One of the million dollar questions many owners of small businesses find themselves asking is how to get their customers to leave reviews or offer feedback. Not only is this crucial information for the betterment and growth of the business, but it gives potential future customers inside information about how your company operates. But why is it that people will thank you over and over for a job well done, but it’s like pulling teeth to get them to leave a review? If you want feedback you have to make it easy for customers to provide it. Here are six ways to encourage your customers to share their experiences and leave a review:
1. Ask In Person
Asking someone to leave a review in person is one of the most effective ways to get the feedback you’re looking for. Studies show 7 out of 10 people will leave a review if they’re specifically asked to, so you just have to ask. When a customer is raving about their experience to you, it’s easy to throw in something like “would you mind putting all of that in an online review for us?” or “We’re so happy you’re happy. Will you leave a review about your experience?” Most people will be happy to share if you ask them to.
2. Pre-Screen First
If your face-to-face interaction with the customer is limited, asking for feedback via email is the next best option. However, it’s important to ensure you're consistently delivering good results before making this an automated or blanket request of your customers. There’s nothing like going out of your way to ask an unhappy customer to leave a review. A follow-up email after the business transaction is complete is a good way to gauge the happiness of your customer. If they seem content, you can respond with a final thank you and a request for a review. If you are using an online template, you can include this in the email. If they’re less than thrilled, you can use it as an opportunity to show that you're response to customer feedback and take swift action to rectify the problem.
3. Make It Personal
Customers can tell when they’re getting an automated request, and it doesn’t exactly make them feel like a valued customer. An email requesting a review that feels personal will get much better responses than an impersonal one.
- Use an email address that they recognize. Using an email that they’ve had correspondence with is even better. It makes them feel like the email is being sent from a real person instead of an automated function.
- Personalize the message. Use their name, thank them for the specific service/product they bought. If there was something positive or memorable from your interaction, mention that as well “I hope your daughter loves her new computer!” or “Thanks for doing business with us! Enjoy that cruise!”
- Clear away anything in the email that makes it look generic. The goal is to come off as personable as possible. Use a simple, easy-to-read button that they can click on that directs them to where they can leave their review on your website
- Change up the subject line. Using their name in the subject line, “John, would you do us a favor?” or “Thanks for doing business with XYZ Company, Ellie” not only catches their attention but also adds to the more personal feel you’re going for
4. Make It Easy
If it takes more than a few seconds for customers to find out where to start their review, chances are they’re going to give up. If they have to jump through a bunch of hoops, sign their life away or have to navigate a clunky webpage, they’re not going to waste their time. When determining how successful your email campaigns are in generating reviews, consider the number of reviews actually left, not just the open rate. Provide links to the major website or platform on which you’d like customers to leave a review, such as Google and Yelp.
5. Be Creative
Although being high-tech and mobile friendly are essential in generating reviews, don’t be afraid to go old school and provide a way for customers to leave reviews while they’re in your office. If you have a physical location that customers frequent, put up a cork board and leave index cards and pens for customers to leave their reviews right in the store. You can type up and use their feedback on your website too!
6. Watch Out - Be Careful With Incentives!
It may seem like a good idea to give your customers an incentive to leave reviews, but you may want to be careful. The FTC has penalized companies for offering discounts and rewards in exchange for a glowing review. The law about incentives and reviews says that if you do provide incentives for reviews, you must make it crystal clear that your reviewers are compensated for their opinions. Asking for reviews is something you should definitely be doing; rewarding people for leaving them may not be.
Finally: The Take-Away
90% of customers report checking a company's reviews before making initial contact. Generating authentic reviews is part of the growing process, so it's important to be patient with the process. Remind your customers how valuable their feedback is to you, and how much it helps you help them. Most customers will be more than happy to leave a review; you just have to ask.