Business Tips

How to get customer reviews for your small business

By now, we should all be quite aware of the impact of a review-centric society on a business’s bottom line. Yet, for many small business owners, the looming question is “How do I get people to write any reviews about my business, let alone positive ones?” It can be a daunting question that may lead some to consider ignoring the importance of garnering positive reviews for their business and put little to no effort toward that end. But don’t fall into that trap! There are plenty of reasons to prioritize getting into the review game. We have tips for doing so with less effort.

Benefits of getting customer reviews

Customer reviews are much more than they appear. On the surface, they’re a tool potential customers use to learn what actual customers think of your product or service. But when you dig deeper, reviews can provide:

  • Social proof
    People are more likely to buy, or not buy, things that have been reviewed by others. According to a survey by Zendesk, 90% of people say that positive online reviews influence their buying decisions, and 86% say their decisions are influenced by negative reviews.
  • Free advertising
    If you have a lot of online reviews, it can help you appear higher in search engine rankings.
  • Business insights
    Customer reviews allow you to find out what people really think of your business and make changes accordingly. For instance, reviews might say that customers wished you were open later on weekdays. This revelation may prompt you to update your business hours.
  • An avenue for building relationships
    Regularly read and respond to reviews. It can help you build relationships with customers. This extra effort and attention to detail can help set you apart from your competitors and win you more business.

Tips for getting customer reviews

Whether or not your business gets reviews doesn’t just have to be left up to chance and the whims of your customers. Here are a few things you can do to take matters into your own hands:

  • Send a follow-up text or email
    While you’re fresh in people’s minds, reach out to customers who just completed a transaction or had a positive experience to write a review. If you control who you ask, you’re more likely to get the positive feedback that you deserve that might not have otherwise been offered without your prompting. Think of it this way, most customers who do actually have a 4- or 5-star experience simply don’t think to go and review a business. Typically, customers only think to write a review if they’ve had a bad experience. This can skew the portrayal of your business, probably unjustly because most of your customers have more than likely had great experiences with your business. Fun fact – We are working on a new generation of business communication tools for Sideline that will make sending follow-up messages to your customers even easier.
  • Create a template
    Once you have drafted a text or email request that you like, save it on your phone or computer. That way you can easily copy and paste it the next time you send a review request, saving valuable time.
  • Offer an incentive
    People are more likely to perform an action if they know there’s something in it for them. So, offer customers a coupon or discount for their feedback. Keep in mind, incentivizing a “review” can sound like you’re trying to buy good reviews. Incentivizing “feedback,” sounds like you genuinely want to hear what your customers think in the form of a review—good or bad. Wording matters. A message that has an incentive could say, “Your opinion matters to us! Leave feedback on our Facebook page and we’ll send you a $10 gift card!”
  • Make things easy
    If you want more customers to leave feedback, make sure your review process is easy. If it’s too complicated, people will get frustrated or lose interest, and they won’t do it. One way to make things simple is to provide customers with direct links to all of the places where they can leave reviews right in your email or text request.
  • Get specialized
    While Google and Yelp are good choices for many businesses, particularly those with a physical location, there are a number of industry-specific sites where you may want to encourage customers to leave reviews. For example:

    • Home Advisor if you are in the home service industry.
    • Wedding Wire or The Knot if you are a florist, photographer, caterer, or business that does a lot for weddings even if they are not your only focus.
    • Wag or Rover if you are in the pet service industry.
    • LinkedIn if you are a freelancer or involved with other professional services.

Although the world of real-time customer reviews can seem like a curse to small business owners, it can also be a blessing. Reviews provide free advertising, business insights, and customer service feedback to help your business grow. Now all you have to do is go out and get them.

To learn more about Sideline’s features and how they can make your life easier and grow your business, take a look at some of the blog posts listed below.
Header Image: aldomurillo via iStock