Customer reviews are the lifeblood of successful organizations. Positive reviews, in particular, can increase your online visibility, add credibility to your brand and encourage more people to buy from you. The stats don’t lie – customers are willing to spend 31% more on a business with excellent reviews.
The problem, however, is getting reviews in the first place. Most businesses are stumped and are left with a bevy of questions:
- When and how do I ask for them?
- What are the benefits of asking?
We’re here to break down the process, including the number one thing you should never do.
Why do customers leave online reviews?
To request reviews, you first need to understand their purpose. For customers, this is an opportunity to share their side of the buying story. It’s a real, unfiltered take on a product or service that socially validates it to other potential customers. There’s a trickle-down effect – the more people that share positive impressions, the more likely others will too.
On the flip side, a negative review can change a consumer’s mind in a heartbeat, even if they’re on the verge of buying. Too many of these can cannibalize your sales efforts and make things that much harder. As we all know, trust is easy to lose and hard to gain.
1. Timing is everything
The key to getting more reviews is sending out your requests at the right time. You need to factor in the time of day and the customer’s emotional state. According to data, the two best times to ask for reviews are between 2-3 pm and 6-7 pm. Why? In non-pandemic times, people are visiting businesses during their lunch break or after work. Send your requests then or automate them so that they appear at the point of sale or care.
You also need to factor in the emotional side. It’s important to send your request when recipients are at their happiest – after they refer another customer, while browsing other products and services on your site or after they’ve tagged your brand in a social media post. The perfect time will ultimately depend on the type of product or service on offer.
2. Choose the right method
When sending out a request, you have several different methods at your disposal: email, SMS, landing page. You can also include review links after checkout or on thank-you pages as an optional final step. But the most common way is still email. According to research, as much as 70 percent of reviews come from post-transactional review request emails.
Whatever channel you choose to use, make sure it is optimized. If you’re asking a person to take this extra step, you need to make things as user-friendly and convenient as possible. Doing so increases the odds that they will complete your request. Let them know how long it will take, give them multiple options for leaving a review and start things off with an open-ended question to facilitate a dialogue.
3. Create the right incentive
Everyone’s time is valuable, so it’s good practice to give your customers a reason to leave a review. Offer them a discount or coupon codes, entrance into a contest or a gift card. However, it is important that you don’t try and sway their opinion beforehand – you want their honest feedback.
4. Keep things short, simple & personal
When sending out your review requests, you’ll want to keep things brief, easy to understand and personalized to each recipient. If the review or survey takes too long to finish, it likely won’t be completed. To avoid this, you’ll need to know your goals ahead of time (i.e., measuring loyalty or gaining feedback on your customer service). This will help you tailor your approach and ensure that you get the right info.
If you’re sending requests en masse, you’ll need to automate the process. But you don’t want to come across to the customer as a robot. Use your own voice and individually acknowledge each recipient so that they feel like they matter. This will help increase open and respond rates.
Keep in mind, if you’re using a rating scale in your review/survey, provide middle categories or a neutral option, as this will provide more accurate data. If you’re not using ratings, then stick to “Yes” or “No,” or pre-selected multiple-choice answers.
5. Test, measure and adjust
Even after your business launches a successful review request campaign, you can’t just sit back and let things run. To get the best response rates and useful feedback from your customers, you’ll need to constantly tweak and calibrate. Think about it – people’s interactions and experiences aren’t static but constantly changing over time. If you get negative feedback while asking for reviews, respond and make the necessary adjustments. Soon enough, you’ll have a steady stream of reviews.
The number one thing you don’t want to do as a business is buy or elicit positive reviews. While you can offer customers incentives for completing a review, you don’t want to pressure them to leave a specific type of review, as this can destroy your credibility. Please avoid asking things like “I’ll give you a discount if you leave a review,” “Will you leave a review that says…?,” “Don’t leave until you review us!” or the dreaded “Our business will fail unless you leave us a review…”. As mentioned before, reviews/surveys are supposed to be honest and authentic; if they’re not, you’re betraying your customers’ and potential customers’ trust.
And to be honest, would you really want all your reviews to look the same? To improve your products and services, you need to hear what your customers really have to say. Keep in mind, even if you push them for a favourable review, they can go back and change it later anyways. If you find that your customers are having trouble answering, offer prompts to help them out.
In the end, the best way to get positive reviews is to make your customers happy. The more satisfied they are with your product or service as well as how you resolve their concerns, the more likely they are to post something favourable.
Once you have your customer reviews, it’s important that you set aside time to respond to them. We’ve outlined the best way to do this, along with how to deal with negative feedback.