Reviews can transform your business by building social proof and demonstrating demand for your offer. However, requesting them requires skill.
Google Reviews are the most popular, with 98% of respondents in the 2023 BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey reading online reviews for local businesses. G2 is a comparable platform specifically for B2B SaaS vendors.
They’re not the only places to read customer reviews, however. Facebook reviews and platform-specific testimonials are all equally important.
In this article, we explore why customer reviews matter and cover the most popular review platforms. You’ll learn clever ways to ask for reviews via email, social media, over the phone, in text messages and in person. We’ll finish off with the best times to ask for a review and ensure quality feedback.
Why are customer reviews important?
Positive customer reviews are the backbone of your business’ online social proof. Much like asking a trusted friend for a recommendation, online reviews help potential customers decide on the best product or service to ease their pain points.
The more detailed, relevant reviews a business has, the more likely potential customers will choose them over the competition.
Here are some of the reasons customer reviews are important:
Improved search placement. Almost 90% of consumers used Google to evaluate local businesses, according to BrightLocal’s survey. Improve your local ranking and business visibility on the search engine with high-quality, positive customer reviews. Google also recommends businesses respond to reviews to show they value customer feedback.
Actionable feedback to improve product/service. Receiving negative customer reviews is never enjoyable, but genuine constructive criticism can help improve a product or service. Customer feedback is necessary when evolving a business to reach new heights.
Increased social proof. BrightLocal’s survey revealed that almost half of consumers feel online business reviews are as trustworthy as recommendations from friends or family. Attract genuine customer reviews to increase the social proof of your business.
It’s easy to get caught up in the star ratings, but reviews are so much more. The value for potential customers lies in real experiences. It’s the benefit of seeing how other customers solved similar problems and deciding whether to follow in their footsteps.
For example, when searching Google Maps, potential customers may find a business from reviews alone. Searching “best places to work” shows coworking spaces and coffee shops that users reviewed featuring the keyword “place to work”.
The review may say “Starbucks had free WiFi, plenty of power outlets and was a great place to work for a few hours”. Google Maps users searching for similar amenities now know Starbucks has everything they need. These reviews featuring different keywords are as critical as a five-star rating.
Understanding Google Reviews
Google Reviews help customers decide between local businesses by providing valuable information to users.
Reviews appear next to the Business Profile in Google Maps and Google Search. Every business with at least one review gets a star rating, displayed visually and as a number between one and five. The number of reviews is in brackets after the star rating.
There are three tabs with customer information: overview, reviews and about. Open the “reviews” tab to view a breakdown of the ratings (one to five stars), individual customer reviews and popular topics.
Potential customers may search keywords in all customer reviews to find specific information. For example, the keyword “work” brings up a review stating that the coffee shop is “not a great place to work due to the dim lighting”.
The review also often includes photos. Real images of businesses are especially important for prospective customers.
When opening the photos tab, users will find the images provided by real customer reviews. Artificial intelligence organizes the photos into suitable categories to help viewers find exactly what they’re looking for efficiently. For example, “Food & Drink”.
Google cannot verify customer reviews. But it does check for fake content and remove reviews as needed.
Google Reviews are a powerful tool. Use them to build reputation and awareness.
Understanding Facebook reviews
Facebook’s formal review and rating system is notable because it does more than share customer reviews as posts or featured content.
Like Google Reviews, Facebook reviews give a star rating (one to five) to the business. The number of reviews appears next to the numerical rating. The more positive reviews, the higher the perceived popularity of the business.
The number of reviews is a clickable feature on Facebook that opens a list of customer reviews in the app. Users can scroll through reviews, although there is no way to sort or search. Therefore, the most important factor of a Facebook review is the total overall rating.
Customer reviews and recommendations determine ratings, but reviewers can’t specify a star rating. Instead, Facebook simply asks “yes” or “no” questions of “Do you recommend [business name]?” The reviewer can then post a recommendation, select any tags they agree with and share pictures of their experience.
Only recommendations shared publicly by customers determine a business page’s overall rating.
Understanding platform-specific reviews
Different businesses use a wide range of industry-specific platforms powered by reviews. Good reviews may lead to more opportunities, platform benefits and a healthier bottom line.
Deciding on a platform may be straightforward, but learning the intricacies of a new app or website is a skill in itself. Understanding both general review sites like Yelp, Angi and Glassdoor and more specific platforms like Tripadvisor, Uber and DoorDash is essential to performance.
A quick way to understand exactly how the platform review process works is to write a review. Book a stay, order a product or head out to eat. Following the service, leave a review. Note the features of the platform to use in your own business.
Booking.com, for example, uses specific criteria to book a property:
Value for money
Guests then score the property by filling out a questionnaire. Hotel staff can then improve the customer experience in these areas to receive good reviews.
How to ask customers for reviews
Whether you’re looking to improve the local SEO of your small business with Google Reviews or increase your rating on Booking.com, asking for customer reviews requires real skill.
Some platforms like Google supply useful tools to help with requesting a review. Others may require more work to streamline the process.
Here’s how to ask for a review on any platform.
How to ask for reviews via email
Asking for reviews by email should be the first point of action for beginners.
Email campaigns designed as customer surveys, often made from cold email templates, are among the most popular solutions. Simple emails, including the personalized Google Review URL, may also work well for businesses. Best practices for email review requests include:
Personalize the email subject and body. In a Woodpecker study of more than 20 million cold emails, an email campaign with advanced personalization was more than twice as likely to be opened than an email without it. Use customer names, alongside any other data collated in a customer relationship management (CRM) system like Pipedrive, to make the email memorable.
Ask for a customer review immediately. If you’re focusing on a survey-based email campaign, a star rating is one of the first questions to ask. A company score should be a gut reaction. Saving the most crucial metric until the end might cause customers to give lower ratings.
Keep it concise. One of the most important email strategy techniques is to keep it brief. Get to the point and get there quickly.
An added benefit of using email campaigns lies in the customer data. Test and experiment with different email subject lines to improve open rates and content templates for better engagement.
Verify your Google Business Profile. Ensure your Google Business Profile is visible on Maps and Search. All businesses must have a verified business to respond to Google Reviews.
Reply to customer reviews to build trust. Reading and responding to customer reviews shows your business values feedback and is likely to implement suggestions.
Value positive and negative reviews. Honest, objective customer reviews are the most useful for potential customers. A mixture of positive and negative reviews is more trustworthy. Respond to negative reviews to provide additional context and highlight business values.
Remind customers to leave reviews. Inform customers that it’s quick and easy and show them how to leave a Google Review.
The published guidelines offer transparency into the search algorithms. Follow Google’s best practices and the platform will favor your business. That could be the difference between 100 new organic customers through the door and none.
Social allows businesses to build customer relationships in a personal capacity.
According to Pipedrive’s State of Sales and Marketing report, social media is the most popular digital marketing channel, with 69% of those surveyed using the technique. There are many ways to ask for reviews on various social media platforms. Best practices for social media review requests include:
Specifying the review type. Asking for a review on social media could mean one of two things. Specify a review request on the specific social platform or a review elsewhere on the web. Again, Facebook is the only social platform with a formal review structure. All other social platforms direct customers elsewhere (to Google Reviews, Tripadvisor or Yelp). Include a link to the review platform for the least resistance.
Using platform-specific features. Different social media platforms offer unique features great for communicating with customers. Facebook, for example, allows users to create posts including existing reviews. Instagram allows business accounts to create live stories, active for 24 hours. Find whatever tools are available and get the most performance from the platform.
Avoiding incentives. Offering incentives for reviews may cause the business’s online reputation to suffer. All reviews, positive and negative, should reflect the business listing accurately. New customers may resist the incentives and loyal customers may begin to question their recent purchase decisions.
There is no one set rule across the different social channels. Each platform has its own set of best-practice guidelines for feedback. What works on TikTok may not work on LinkedIn and vice versa. Know the platform-specific audience and play to its strengths.
Businesses that offer telephone support will find lots of opportunities to ask for reviews when chatting about the customer experience.
In customer support scenarios, especially when addressing complex or time-consuming customer support tickets, the primary focus is efficient problem-solving. Not only is that great for building customer loyalty, but it also makes a positive review more likely. Wait until the end of the call to request a review.
Similarly, when you solve problems efficiently, happy customers may express their gratitude and offer positive feedback. In these cases, it’s easy to request an online review. Ask the customer to publish their thoughts on one of your chosen review sites.
How to ask for reviews via text
Asking for a review in a text message falls into one of two camps. Businesses can use either highly personalized messages or automated ones.
Whether using SMS, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp, requesting review via a text-based platform is a great way to boost review numbers. Use your business texting app to send customers or clients a review request. Include a link to reduce the friction in the review process.
At the other end of the scale is an automated SMS review request, great for scheduling requests following a purchase, service or delivery. Automated SMS review requests take the legwork out of asking for reviews, though they remove the personal element.
Choosing one of the two approaches should be intuitive. Customer-facing businesses that offer tailored services (like mechanics and barbers) should send highly personalized messages. Faceless businesses (like courier services and e-commerce companies) can use professional automated SMS messages.
Asking for reviews in person can be intimidating, but the reward is worth the risk.
Every member of the team can help with the review request process. Whether it’s a customer service manager or the business owner, the best practices for in-person review requests include:
Focusing on unsolicited positive feedback. In-person feedback is fantastic to receive, but publishing that customer opinion online is invaluable. When receiving praise in person, express your appreciation before following up with a polite request to publish the kind words online.
Creating review opportunities in conversation. A huge benefit to asking for reviews in person lies in the direct line of communication with a satisfied customer. Create review opportunities by asking questions like “Have you found everything you were looking for today” or “We hope you had a pleasant experience, is there anything we could do to improve?” Follow these questions with online review information.
Reviews are important, but ensuring that customers feel comfortable is the priority. If there isn’t a good opportunity to ask for a review, don’t force the point. Focus on natural review requests where the conversation flows in the direction of positive feedback.
Timing a review request requires skill, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Different businesses, industries and scenarios will have different answers.
Optimizing a review request time is not an exact science. Try to put yourself in the customer’s position, both in their daily life and in the buying process. The timing can be as important as the message itself in maintaining happy, loyal customers. Think about the following when asking for reviews:
Target non-working hours. Aim to target customer review requests outside of working hours for best results. For example, at lunch or during the morning or evening commute.
Immediate review requests. Businesses like courier services, comparison sites and booking apps should send review requests immediately to avoid missing a finite window of opportunity. Supply a linked URL or QR code for a streamlined review request.
Delayed review requests. E-commerce businesses should delay review requests by days or even weeks. Tradespeople and service providers should also consider delaying review requests to account for an introductory period. To ask for a delayed review, consider using automated SMS or email.
Automation is vital when delaying a review to stay organized. Use products and services programmed to request reviews at certain times, then customize them to fit your window of opportunity.
Use these tips and best practices to generate more reviews from happy customers.
Decide on a review platform to build and direct customers (in-person or via email or text message) as efficiently as possible. Use review links to remove the friction while empathizing with the customer and time requests well for maximum impact.
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