How to Ask for Online Reviews from past Customers

Seth Spriggs

What if there was a magic bullet you could put on your website to help win prospective customers’ trust and favourable opinions before they even reach out to you? There is – online reviews from your past customers.

An annual review of consumer attitudes and influences found that a whopping 92 per cent of consumers of local businesses read online reviews, and that 80 per cent of consumers trust online reviews and much as personal recommendations. Even better? Other research has found that 86 per cent of customers are willing to pay more for good customer service.

This means your existing happy customers can play a powerful role in helping you earn the trust – and dollars – of prospects who find you online. Yellow Pages profiles put starred reviews front and centre, but in order to showcase the great things your customers have to say, you first have to get them to post their opinion.

So how do you harness the positive power of happy past customers? Here are some top tips for getting great customer reviews online.

1. Ask and ye shall receive

The most important step to getting reviews online? Ask. Happy customers don’t always proactively seek out ways to give you their opinion, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t eager to share their great experiences. Let customers know you value their feedback and give them an easy way to provide it.

2. Timing – and wording – are everything

There’s a right way to ask customers for reviews, and both the timing and the wording of your feedback request can make a big difference as to how it is received.

When it comes to phrasing, use words such as “opinion” or “feedback” to show customers that it’s what they think about their experience – and not the transactional value of their opinion – that matters to you most. And be careful not to specifically ask for positive or good reviews (or to use any other prescriptive language), as it can come across as pushy.

There’s also a fine art to timing your request. Ask too early in your relationship and you risk coming across as presumptuous, too late and the experience is no longer fresh in the customer’s mind, nor are they driven by their satisfaction. The right time to ask is soon after they’ve made a purchase or renewed an order.

3. Timing (the advanced secret)

There’s an even better time to ask for a review: if a customer proactively communicates their satisfaction, whether by phone, email or in person, tell them how happy you are to have this feedback and ask if they would mind sharing this experience online (then make it easy for them to do so, whether via form, your social media profile, or on a review site).

4. Be responsive

How you respond to feedback – whether good or bad – tells prospective customers a lot about how you do business. Take the time to thank happy customers for their kind words and reach out to those who are less satisfied to see if there’s an opportunity to make things better.

5. Don’t fear the negative

To that point, if you’re avoiding showcasing reviews for fear you won’t like everything everyone has to say about you, know negative reviews don’t have to be a deterrent to future business. Research shows that consumers trust reviews more when websites feature both the negative and positive, and how you respond to complaints is an opportunity to authentically show consumers your business’s core values.

6. Penny for your thoughts?

Sometimes offering a reward for feedback can have a double payoff, incenting customers who need extra motivation to take the time to share their opinion, and, if the incentive is tied back to your business in the form of future discounts or other offers, spurring even more sales. Just be sure any incentive is tied to leaving a review in general, and not a specifically positive endorsement, or it could be seen as buying reviews.

So what are you waiting for?

Positive reviews are a great way to bolster consumer trust and favourable perceptions of your business, and Yellow Pages profile tools help put your great customer experiences front and centre. And always remember, positive reviews hinge on good customer experiences in the first place.

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