To say that customer reviews are powerful is an understatement. A few sentences in a review can have more influence on consumers than an entire website. A difference of one star—or even a half-star—can be all it takes for a shopper to choose a competitor over you.
But in order to get those sentences or that extra star, you need to ask your customers for reviews. Asking for reviews can feel awkward or self-serving, but the truth is that people generally love to share their opinions; they just don’t know the opportunity is there.
In this guide, I’m going to cover the importance of online customer reviews and various scenarios that you can turn into opportunities to ask for reviews. Plus, I’ll share some great examples of how to ask that you can adapt to your own business.
The importance of asking customers for reviews
Chances are, you can already attest to the power of customer reviews from your own shopping experiences. Think about the number of times you’ve been on the fence about making a purchase and only followed through because other customers’ glowing reviews gave you the confidence to do so. Or maybe you were never on the fence at all, because you knew exactly what you wanted to buy because you heard great things about it from someone you know.
The fact of the matter is, what other people have to say about your business carries more weight than what you have to say about your business, even if they are complete strangers. In fact, 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
If that is not enough to get you to leave your comfort zone and start collecting reviews for your own business, here are some more stats that might give you the boost you need:
• Consumers are willing. In December of 2019, a BrightLocal study showed that 76% of those who are asked to leave reviews go on to do so, and that this was a 70% increase from the prior year.
• Consumers find reviews to be helpful. In a study conducted by Podium, 93% of consumers said that online reviews for local businesses are as helpful as product reviews on sites like Amazon.
• Consumers see out reviews. According to Google, mobile searches for “reviews” have increased by 35%, and searches for “best” have increased by 80%.
Only 18% of consumers say they don’t read online reviews. That means 82% of your audience can be influenced by reviews written about your business.
How to ask customers for reviews
There are just as many ways to ask customers for reviews as there are communication mediums within your business and marketing efforts. These include:
• In person
• Over the phone (or via text)
• Through your website (ideally, a reviews page)
• Via email (email blast, personal email, company email, email signatures)
• Via social media (direct message or post)
• Via thank you pages
• On receipts/invoices
We’ll be covering all of these and more in this post, but remember that you don’t have to stick with just one method of asking customers for reviews. In fact, you should have a few strategies running at once to ensure a steady stream of feedback is coming in about your business. Multiple and recent reviews help earn you more trust from customers and also help your business to rank higher in search results.
How to ask for a review in person
Asking for a review in person can be intimidating, but it is the most effective approach. If the opportunity presents itself, seize it!
Ask in response to praise
The easiest scenario would be that of a customer who approaches you with unsolicited praise. In this case, express your appreciation for their taking the time to provide the feedback, and then make the suggestion. For example:
Happy customer: [singing your praises]
You: That is so great to hear. We really try our best to [do what you’re being praised for]. And thank you so much for taking the time to provide your feedback.
Customer: For sure, thank you for providing such great service!
You: You know, those kinds of comments really help prospective customers to feel more confident in choosing us. If you wouldn’t mind writing what you just said in a quick review on [platform of your choice], that would be awesome.
Create opportunities with conversation
You don’t have to wait for a customer to come to you to ask them for a review. More often than not you’ll need to strike up a conversation with them that will provide the opportunity. You can do so by asking questions about their experience with your store, services, or products upon checkout. Good questions include:
• Did you find everything you were looking for today?
• Is this your first time [using the product you’re about to purchase]?
• How is that [product you’re purchasing]? I’ve tried [a similar product] but I have yet to try this one for myself.
• How was your experience in our store today?
In-person review requests are the most popular method. (Note: As we will mention later in this post, we do not recommend asking in exchange for a discount, cash, or free gifts/services.)
Don’t force it
Important: Don’t ask for a review upon a customer’s first positive remark about your business. This will render your conversation ingenuine and you will come off as not caring about their experience but rather just about getting the review. Reviews improve your reputation, but you won’t get any (and your reputation will plummet) if you don’t ask in the right manner.
Instead, get a read on the customer. If their response is short and indicative that they don’t feel like talking, don’t force it. If they respond positively and offer more information or feedback, continue the conversation. As it comes to a close, ask them for the review. For example:
“Well hey, thanks for the feedback. We love sharing that kind of stuff with potential customers so they can feel more confident about choosing us. If you’re comfortable with it, it’d be awesome if you could share any of what you said to me in an online review.”
How to ask clients for for reviews over the phone
If you own or operate a business that is customer support-heavy, you and your employees can find plenty of opportunities to ask clients for reviews over the phone. But choose who you’re asking wisely. If you’ve just helped a client through a long or difficult problem, it’s probably not best to ask them for a review.
However, if you have a self-proclaimed satisfied customer (ideally if they express gratitude for your help), this is a great time to ask for a review.
“I’m glad we were able to help you today and we so appreciate your business. We would love it if you shared this experience on [link to the online review platform of your choice]. Seeing glowing reviews from existing customers makes others more comfortable knowing they’ll get the support they need should an issue with our services arise.”
You’ll make your customer feel appreciated and valued which not only increases customer loyalty but will also increase the chances of them actually giving you that review.
Examples of asking for reviews via email
Using email to ask for reviews is a solid approach for businesses. First of all, it’s still a great channel for communicating with your customers: 91% of consumers open their email on a daily basis, and 58% of consumers check their email before doing anything else online. Second, you can include the link to the review platform right in the email and even test out different formats and language. Here are three approaches and examples of using email to ask customers for reviews.
This is an email that would go out to your customer list. You may want to do one broad email or segment it out as you see fit. This type of email could be as short and simple as a 1-10 scale rating, or it could include some brief copy.
Review request email example #1
Positive reviews from awesome customers like you help others to feel confident about choosing [business name] too. Could you take 60 seconds to go to [link to review platform] and share your happy experiences?
We will be forever grateful. Thank you in advance for helping us out!
Review request email example #2
Did you know that the number of [business name] fans has doubled in this year alone? We must be doing something right! Let us know what keeps you coming back for more. This enables us to continue providing the best experience possible for you, and helps others understand how [ business name] can make their life easier.
Review request example #3
Dear [first name]
Thank you for your recent purchase. We hope you love it! If you do, would you consider posting an online review? This helps us to continue providing great products and helps potential buyers to make confident decisions.
Thank you in advance for your review and for being a preferred customer.
Even a simple 1-10 rating could work for an email blast. Image Source
Nothing can make a customer feel quite as appreciated as when they receive a personal email from the business owner. Choose a handful of loyal customers who have done a great deal of business with you, or customers with whom you’re hoping to cultivate lasting relationships, and send them a personal note thanking them for their business and asking for the review.
Involve your employees in the process. Stress the importance of customer reviews to your staff and ask that they send personal emails to customers. Let them know that they would be personally contributing to the growth of your organization and they’ll feel empowered to participate in the initiative.
Note: Be sure to keep email correspondence short and sweet. People are busy and you’re already asking them to take the time to write a review—don’t make them read a two-page letter about it!
How to ask for reviews in a purchase confirmation
Whether the purchase confirmation is an email or thank you page, asking for a review immediately might seem too soon, since the customer most likely hasn’t had the chance to try out your product or service just yet. However, they can still provide feedback on what it was like to navigate your website, interact with your staff and/or sales team, and go through the purchase process—three very important factors that consumers take into account when considering a business. And this is when the process is fresh on their mind. Also, for many customers, it may not be their first purchase, so if this is their third time purchasing a product from you (or the same product), they might be more inclined to give their positive feedback.
Here are two short and sweet ways to request reviews or feedback in your after-purchase thank you pages:
“Thank you for your purchase! If you enjoyed your shopping experience, tell us (and others) about it!”
“Thank you for your purchase! If you are happy with your [new product], please take a minute to review it here [link to review platform].”
If you are able to go with a branded and designed email, you can gain some inspiration from these brands:
Chewy’s email is a great example of providing the actual items the customer purchased and a link to review each. And I particularly like this one by Biscutteers because they include others’ reviews. This helps give customers a starting point so they’re not starting from scratch, while also boosting their own reputation.
How to ask for a review after a download complete
If your business offers downloadable content or tools, this is another opportunity to get reviews. Audience members or customers who frequently download your content are clearly those who trust your business’s expertise and products. They may not leave a review upon their first download, but as they continue using your free resources they may feel inclined to express their appreciation for your useful information and guidance. In this case, your thank you page might have a review request, such as:
“If you find our information to be helpful, write a review! Reviews help us to not only improve our products and services but also to let others know that we care about delivering the best quality.”
“Could others benefit from [business, product, or service name]? Let them know by writing a review!”
If you offer downloadable content or tools, you could include a review request in your landing page or thank you page as with this example:
How to ask for reviews from vendors
If you do a lot of B2B work, consider your vendors and partners for reviews. Other business owners understand the value of a review, and leaving one on their website or listing may be enough to get one from them without even asking.
However, there are opportunities to ask for reviews from them as well. If you find yourself in a meeting with a client or a business partner, don’t be afraid to simply say,
“Mr. Smith, I really have enjoyed working with you on this project and value your insight. Would you be willing to share your experience with our company by contributing a short review for our testimonial page?”
“Positive feedback from not just customers, but also the partners we work with really helps us to continue attracting more great customers and partners such as yourself. If you wouldn’t mind leaving a review, we would really appreciate that.”
You can include a CTA to leave a review in various places on your website, but many businesses benefit from having a dedicated reviews or testimonials page accessible via their main navigation (as this is one of the first things a prospective customer seeks out when considering a business).
One way to do this is to simply have a page that provides links to each of the platforms for which you have listings, such as the example below:
Another approach, which I would recommend, is including existing reviews on the page in addition to the CTA to leave a review, such as with the example below:
Many content management systems have a plugin or script that allows you to aggregate your reviews from other platforms into a feed on this page. But you can also add them manually. Either way, it is best to have the reviews appear on the page in text form (as opposed to screenshot or image). This is because reviews are often packed with important keywords that can boost your SEO, but Google won’t pick up on these words if they’re in image form.
Additional ways to ask for a review
There are lots of creative ways to ask for reviews for your business. Here are a few more that you can have some fun with.
Include a card in your product packaging: With a design tool like Canva, you can easily create little cards that encourage reviews. The card can say something like:
• “Did you enjoy working with us? Leave a review!”
• “How did we do? Let us know by leaving a review at [link]!”
• “Got feedback? We’d love to hear it! You can leave us a review at [link].”
Request reviews via text messages or social media: Asking for reviews in either of these manners is effective because because like email, you can include the link to the review platform right in the text
Add a review option to your chatbot: The great thing about using a chatbot is that you can basically set up a survey right within the chat—and set up filtering such that only your customers can leave them.
How not to ask for reviews
While you are encouraged to ask for reviews, there is a right and a wrong way to go about it. Here are some approaches you should avoid.
Incentivizing with gifts or discounts:. You should not, under any circumstances, offer a discount or free gift in exchange for leaving reviews. This is against the terms and conditions of many review platforms like Yelp and Google, and can lead to a high volume of low-quality or star-only reviews (with no explanation). The purpose of reviews is not primarily to benefit the business but to empower prospective customers to make informed decisions. However, something like this would be perfectly suitable:
Buying reviews. Again, this policy is in place to keep review platforms honest and accurate.
Asking apologetically. Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews. People (as mentioned above, 67% of people) are generally willing to leave reviews. People like being heard, and will be extra willing to lend their voice to a company they feel has met their expectations, as a way of returning the favor. Plus, you are empowering them to give other consumers just like them the confidence to make an informed decision
Forgetting to follow up: Don’t forget to respond to reviews. First off, this is a way of acknowledging and expressing appreciation for the customer’ taking the time to do so. Second, this can help you to build customer relationships and retain more of them. Finally, it shows the rest of the public that you are attentive to the voices of your customers. Responding also builds engagement and activity on your listing, which Google takes into account when ranking business listings.
So what is the best way to ask customers for reviews?
There are many ways to ask for reviews, but the most effective method and/or platform will be different for each business. As mentioned above, your best bet is to have a few strategies in place at once, and to experiment within particular methods to find out which one(s) work best for you! Just remember these key takeaways:
• Reviews aren’t selfish; they empower your customers to help other consumers make smart and confident decisions.
• Be genuine and don’t force it.
• Make it as easy as possible for the customer to leave a review (including using short, easy-to-remember links for printed materials).
• Remember that customers are willing to leave reviews.
• Respond to reviews, good and bad!
A steady stream of good-quality reviews is essential for your reputation, ranking, and ultimately even your revenue. So follow these tips and get a review strategy in place asap!