Given how connected customers are in today’s digital world, businesses can’t avoid ratings. Buyers can find customer reviews on your company website, third-party sites like Yelp and Google, and even on social media.
Instead of dreading this input, make customer reviews work for you by mastering how to ask for—and deserve—excellent reviews.
In this guide, learn what customer reviews are, why they’re important, how to ask for a review, how to handle negative reviews, and ways to tell if a customer review platform is credible.
What is a customer review?
A customer review is a reflection of a customer’s overall experience with your products or services. You will usually find customer reviews on Yelp, Facebook, Amazon, and Google.
Many prospects will browse a business’s reviews to determine if the products or services are worth purchasing based on the feedback of past customers. According to research from Dixa, 93 percent of customers will read online reviews before making a purchase.
Customer reviews can be positive or negative and can go a long way in determining who will purchase from you.
Importance of customer reviews
From retail to B2B and SaaS, reviews impact how customers perceive your business—ultimately affecting your profits. Below, we explore the benefits of customer reviews.
Customer reviews are powerful because they come from real people and often feel more authentic to buyers than traditional marketing. Research shows that 49 percent of customers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations from family and friends.
Customer reviews are essentially word-of-mouth marketing online. In our digital age, customers can get feedback from people they care about and know in real life and other consumers who have real experiences via online reviews.
Get valuable feedback
Reviews provide insight into what’s working well for your customers and where there’s room for improvement—from your product quality to the effectiveness of your customer support.
Reviews enable businesses to keep an eye on their brand at all times. You can’t be everywhere and doing everything at all times, so reviews allow you to get abundant feedback.
Improve the bottom line
Like a community forum within a knowledge base, reviews can help customers get answers to their questions before they reach out to your support team. For instance, a customer can go to a restaurant’s Yelp page to see what’s on the menu. Or, they can read Amazon reviews of a product to learn how it works or determine whether there’s a warranty.
When there are fewer support requests coming in, agents can focus on high-value tasks and urgent inquiries. As a result, agents can spend more time providing high-quality customer experiences. And good CX directly impacts your bottom line—according to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report, 60 percent of consumers have purchased something from one brand over another based on the service they expect to receive.
How to get positive customer reviews
Getting more reviews is a two-step process. First, you need to give your customers an experience worth reviewing, and then you must make sure you encourage them to share.
Companies that receive positive feedback consistently create review-worthy experiences through excellent customer service. That doesn’t mean you need to spend a ton of money or do something elaborate. Everyday things stick with customers, like solving issues quickly or reaching out before a problem escalates. Showing you care with your actions is how to get customers to leave reviews.
Online retailer Zappos has arguably the most famous customer service culture of any modern-day business. The company encourages its support team to stay on customer calls for as long as they need to so they can solve the issue and build relationships.
Below are some helpful ways to earn customer or client reviews.
- Listen to customers’ needs
Use customer feedback to create a better experience. Feedback can include comments in satisfaction surveys, pain points mentioned in your community forum, or something customers continuously tell agents.
Postmates is one company that’s hitting customer listening out of the park. For example, the customer experience team partners with the product and analytics teams to use customer feedback for product decisions.
- Actively engage with customers
Give your customers the opportunity to connect with your company by cultivating an online community on social platforms. Assign specific team members to respond to customers’ comments and questions, and use chatbots for 24/7 interaction. This is also a great way to boost your customer engagement strategy.
- Show customers your appreciation
Feeling unappreciated can send customers to your competitors. But when customers do feel valued, they’re more likely to share their experience with others. To show customer appreciation, consider creating a loyalty program for long-time buyers and invest in social causes your customers care about.
This also plays into meeting customers where they are. For example, you don’t want to ask your customers to leave a Yelp review via email. Instead, make sure the type of review you’re requesting lines up with the appropriate channel:
- Ask for Facebook reviews via Facebook Messenger.
- Ask for a website review via a follow-up email.
This shows that you appreciate their business as well as their time.
If you’re regularly creating great support experiences but your reviews aren’t taking off, give your customers an easy way to rate your company. If a customer has to work hard to leave a review, they likely won’t. Here are some ways to request a review from customers.
- Offer multichannel review options
The first step to increasing customer reviews is to make the experience as easy as possible. Consider linking to your Yelp page in your social media customer service bio and email newsletters. Set up your messaging software so customers can leave their reviews directly through the channel they’re using to connect with you.
Likewise, if you’re communicating via email, customers should be able to leave a review in the body of the email.
- Follow up on recent purchases or interactions
Automatically request input by email after a recent purchase or customer service interaction—this is one of the most common ways businesses ask for reviews. Use your customer service software to send customers a satisfaction survey after an interaction, with an option to leave a review.
- Offer incentives
Many customers who aren’t writing reviews need some extra motivation to do so. Incentives like discounts or free company swag can give customers the push they need.
What to do with your customer reviews
Once you start receiving customer or client reviews, there are several things you can do to help keep the momentum going:
Respond to all reviews
Not only do you need to follow up on interactions, but you also need to respond to all reviews, including negative ones—45 percent of customers say they’re more likely to visit a business if it responds to negative reviews.
Share positive reviews on your platforms
Show off positive reviews to spread the good word and encourage more customers to leave feedback. Consider sharing them on your website and your social media channels. For example, you could:
- Reshare positive Facebook reviews in a post on your blog
- Use positive reviews from your website as quotes to post on Instagram
Many review sites, like Google, allow users to mark reviews as helpful. Take advantage of this to highlight the top reviews.
Reward customers who review
Aside from incentivizing customers to leave a review, you can also reward customers who do. Consider giving out a surprise gift after a customer writes a review, like a discount code they can use towards their next purchase. This can add an extra “wow” factor to your customer’s experience and help encourage customer loyalty.
How to handle negative reviews from customers
Even for the best brands, negative reviews are inevitable. It’s impossible to please 100 percent of buyers 100 percent of the time. Don’t lose sleep over them, and don’t try to take them down. Hiding this feedback can destroy customers’ trust in your transparency. Instead, learn how to properly manage negative feedback.
Here are a few helpful tips that can help you respond to a negative customer review:
Publicly acknowledge the customer and thank them
When customers write negative reviews, they do so to be heard. Openly acknowledging that you’ve received their message is a positive start to fixing the problem.
Thank the customer for taking the time to share their experience as soon as you can. Responses are most effective when done quickly—the customer is eager to resolve the issue, and other consumers are watching.
Among consumers who read reviews, 96 percent read businesses’ responses to reviews. Responding promptly and courteously will likely boost other reviewers’ impressions of your brand.
Offer a private conversation
After you acknowledge the complaint, your customer service team should send the customer a direct message to resolve the issue in more detail. Another option is to leave the ball in the customer’s court and provide a support email or phone number in the public response.
Don’t forget to respond publicly—from the public’s perspective, it could look like you didn’t respond at all or you’re trying to hide something about the interaction. Switch to private messages only when the issue resolution is too specific to be helpful to a larger group of readers.
Personalize your response
Make sure your reply is tailored and personalized to the customer. To start, address them by their first name (if given) as you begin your response. You can also mention something specific that they referenced in their review.
Avoid posting the same response to every review—this can come off as robotic and suggest you’re uninterested in making amends with customers.
Try to resolve the issue
A survey from Yelp found that 88 percent of customers are more likely to look past a negative review if they see that the business has responded to it and made an effort to address the issue.
Not every reviewer will get back to you and give you a chance to fix the issue. But if you can resolve it, it will go a long way and help you retain customers.
Customer review examples
Customer reviews can come in many different forms, and your responses will vary for each one so you can keep your message as personal as possible. To get an idea of what this looks like, here are examples of both positive and negative customer reviews:
Positive customer review
Example business response
Thank you so much, Miranda! We appreciate you taking the time to leave such a kind review. Our team is happy you enjoyed your birthday experience with us, and we’re looking forward to your next visit!
[Team Member Name]
Negative customer review
Example business response
Hi Michael, thank you so much for sharing your feedback. We’re sorry that your experience with us didn’t match your expectations and that you received the wrong sizes. We’ll make sure to consider your feedback and do better in the future.
Please feel free to reach out to us at [contact information] so we can make it right!
[Team Member Name]
Common customer review sites
An important component of managing your customer reviews is understanding where customers post them and where they go looking for them. Use this quick guide to get up to speed on common review sites:
Popular third-party customer review sites
|Google Business Profile
|B2B SaaS companies
- While Google ranks as the top review site overall, Yelp is popular for brick-and-mortar businesses, with 40.47 million monthly visitors.
- Online retailer Amazon has made a business model out of reviews. Many ecommerce shoppers buy more from Amazon than any other website due to the sheer volume of customer reviews.
- Glassdoor offers employer reviews. Today, many job seekers turn to Glassdoor before even filling out an application.
3 ways to tell if a review platform is credible
The table above is by no means exhaustive. Thousands of review sites exist, but not every site is trustworthy. When trying to determine if a review platform is legitimate, ask yourself these questions:
1. Does the site go beyond ratings to include quality content?
73 percent of people believe reviews with written comments are more important than ratings. Consumers want to know the “why” behind the reviewer’s score and the details of their experience. A legitimate site should encourage reviewers to provide a written explanation for their feedback, not just a number rating.
2. Does it filter for spam reviews to keep ratings authentic?
Technology can create a good user experience, but customers want reviews from people—not bots. For example, Yelp allows businesses and consumers to report harmful or spammy reviews. The company also has a team dedicated to reviewing all inbound flags.
As a business owner, sometimes it’s appropriate to flag a review, like if a customer goes after an employee with demeaning language or if an ex-employee aggressively bashes a business. Reviews are about helpful—not hurtful—content.
3. Are the reviews verified?
Another way to assess credibility is to see if the reviews on the site are verified. This means the reviewer is a verified customer who’s purchased a product or service from the company they’re reviewing.
It’s important to note that not every review platform has this capability, but some platforms (like Google Business Profile) will indicate under the reviewer’s name whether or not they’re a verified customer.
Provide good customer service to attract positive customer reviews
Receiving good reviews starts with providing good customer service. That’s where customer service software comes in—it helps streamline interactions between you and your customers and makes it easy for your buyers to get a hold of you on the channel of their choice.
To ensure your customer service is top-notch, use sophisticated customer service software for streamlined support to help attract positive customer reviews.