“Delighted customers are the only advertisement everyone believes.”
– Ron Kaufman, Author and Motivational Speaker
Creating an effective customer review solicitation strategy can be a powerful way for your business to generate positive reviews, improve your online reputation and boost sales.
Consider these facts:
- Approximately 93% of Internet users have made buying decisions based upon an online review. (Source: Podium)
- 84% of people trust reviews online as much as personal recommendations. (Source: BrightLocal)
- Positive customer reviews make 73% of customers trust a business more. (Source: FinancesOnline)
- 57% of customers visit a company’s website after reading positive reviews. (Source: Boast)
- Approximately 49% of people only choose business with at least four-star ratings. (Source: Reputation X)
In addition to instilling confidence among both regular and potential customers, online reviews allow you to connect with them and gain valuable feedback that can positively affect your business operations.
Here are the top 7 ways for your business to create an effective review solicitation strategy:
1. Determine Your Best Online Review Platforms
Identify the platforms where your target audience is most likely to leave online reviews. This includes such popular online review sites as Google Reviews, Yelp and industry-specific platforms.
According to ReviewTrackers, 85% of all customer reviews are contained on just four sites:
- Google (73%)
- Yelp (6%)
- Facebook (3%)
- TripAdvisor (3%)
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) referral tracking can help inform you which review sites are sending traffic your way.
2. Make it Easy for Customers to Leave Online Reviews
Provide clear and simple instructions on how your customers can leave reviews, including links to relevant online review sites. Also consider sending a follow-up email after a purchase or service that requests feedback and provides links to review sites.
In some cases, it may even be advantageous to reach out personally to a satisfied customer via email or call and ask if they could submit a review detailing their positive experience with your business.
The less time that elapses between your customer’s interaction with you and your review solicitation, the more likely you are to gain a review.
3. Set up a System to Regularly Solicit Reviews
You will need to set up a system to collect and manage customer reviews. This may involve:
- Ensuring You Own Listings/Profiles in the Platforms Noted Above so You are Notified of New Reviews
- Designating Someone to Quickly Respond to Both Positive and Negative Reviews
- Using a Review Management Tool such as Podium, Birdeye or Trustpilot
In our testing, review solicitations that come from the highest level management or owner are more effective than appeals that come without attribution to an individual or that come from someone with a generic title.
Also, consider placing a few positive customer reviews on your website home page, as well as more specific reviews on product and service pages throughout your website.
4. Monitor Your Online Reviews
Regularly monitor your online reviews to address any negative feedback. Even if you choose to not use an additional third-party tool, most of the platforms noted above have settings that enable you to be notified if someone leaves a review.
The platform will send that notification to the address that owns the listing or profile. Therefore, if that is not the email account you use every day, look for ways to be notified when that other account gets an email from an email address that would send a review notification.
Then identify areas where your business can improve your products or services. Staying on top of your incoming reviews also helps you identify and report fake or fraudulent online reviews.
5. Promptly Respond to Both Positive and Negative Online Reviews
Demonstrate that your business values customer feedback and you are committed to providing superior customer service by creating a consistent strategy to promptly respond to both positive and negative Google reviews. This will help you not only attract new customers, but also enhance your credibility and build long-term loyalty among your existing customers.
To reply to your reviews on Google, you’ll first need to claim your Google Business Profile (GBP). This will give you access to respond publicly to all your Google reviews.
Share positive reviews on your social media feeds or as testimonials on your website. In addition, make sure to express appreciation for positive reviews and let the customer know that you appreciate their valuable feedback.
If you are a brick and mortar business, this free tool from Google can turn your reviews into social media posts, table tents, posters and more.
6. Seek Amended Reviews
Let’s face it, the holy grail of review solicitation is getting a negative review turned into a positive one. After you successfully resolve an issue, reach out to the customer and ask if they will update their formerly negative review to highlight the steps taken by your business to achieve a successful resolution.
Consumers will see that you took hold of a negative situation that nearly every business encounters and made it good by valuing your customer’s opinion and situation.
7. Reward Employees Who Get Mentioned in Positive Reviews
Consider implementing a plan to reward employees if they get a verifiable mention within a positive online review. This encourages and incentivizes your employees to consistently achieve a high level of service AND solicit customer reviews at the time of service.
Above all, always provide your customers with a great experience powered by exceptional customer service. This will ensure that the positive reviews keep flowing for your business for years to come.