How do you compel potential customers to choose your business? To make the best decision, consumers arm themselves with as much information as possible. Online reviews are a helpful source guiding their search.

Are reviews as powerful as recommendations from friends or family? While many businesses rely solely on word-of-mouth referrals, reviews are growing in their significance. Studies show that 88% of consumers read online reviews and trust them just as much as they would a personal recommendation. 

Without a doubt, reviews have a significant influence on buying decisions. But do you need all 5-star reviews to win new business? Surprisingly, perfect ratings can actually make consumers suspicious. Positive reviews are actually more credible when some criticism is mixed in as well.

Of course, not all reviews happen organically. Every business wants more reviews; how do they get them? The answer may surprise you: just ask nicely! Well, there is a bit more to it than that. Follow these 7 steps to maximize your reviews.

1. Deliver a positive experience to your customers

Providing stellar customer service lays the groundwork for a plethora of positive reviews. Focus on not only performing high-quality work, but also on providing excellence in the customer experience. Satisfied clients will be happy to write glowing reviews for your business, sometimes without you even having to ask.

2. Give them time to reflect on the experience.

After your work is complete, wait awhile before asking your customers for reviews. Asking on the spot can be off-putting and can detract from what would otherwise be an enjoyable exchange. Allow them to see and feel the results of their purchase, which will make for a much more impactful review. Hopefully, their satisfaction will only increase before you start bombarding them for reviews!

3. Check in with your customers to ensure their satisfaction.

To ensure your customers are happy with their experience, contact them after they have had time to process and see how they feel. If you have the time, give your customers a phone call. That way, if they have any concerns or questions, you can do your best to address and solve them.

Ensure that your customers are satisfied before making this request of them. Then, make it as easy as possible for them to write the review. Send them an email after your exchange with hyperlinks to your review sites.

4. Automate the process of asking

Calling each and every one of your customers to check in can be very time-consuming. Not all businesses have the resources to facilitate this. If you want to get more reviews efficiently, automate the process of asking! Marketing automation software can make it happen.

Try one of the many email marketing automation programs that exist, or find marketing features within a more comprehensive system.

One of the ways to achieve this is through sending an email blast to your entire customer list that includes links to where you would like to be reviewed. A different approach is using built-in marketing features that allow you to send time-based messages, such as “Thank You” emails the day after a transaction that includes review links. By combining your review request with a message of appreciation, you are killing two birds with one stone.

5. Express how much their feedback means to you

You are asking for your customers to take time out of their day to do you a favor. Compel them to write the review by expressing how much their feedback matters to you. By establishing an emotional connection and demonstrating how important their review would be to you, you will greatly increase the likelihood that they will actually take the time to write it.

6. Remind them

Your customers are not all going to jump at the chance to take time out of their day to write you a review, regardless of how happy they may be. You will have to remind them to get optimal results. After sending them the initial email with review links, follow up about a week or so later to remind them if they haven’t already completed the review. Make this reminder gentle, and continue to convey how meaningful their feedback is to you.

Exercise caution in your reminders to avoid annoying your customers. First, give plenty of time between the initial email and the reminder to avoid bombarding their inbox. If your customers feel like your requests are excessive, they will not have a favorable opinion of your business, which could result in a negative review.

7. Thank them!

After your customer has gone out of their way to help you (and hopefully you have gone above and beyond in the level of service provided to them), don’t forget to express your sincerest gratitude! Make your customer feel appreciated.

Thank those customers who follow through and complete a review. Continuing to demonstrate that you truly care about your customers and their opinions will strengthen the relationship that they have built with your brand.

While developing a strategy for growing your business’ online reviews may seem complex, it really is as simple as asking. Many business owners forego reviews simply because they are too afraid to ask.

That fear prevents you from reaping the benefits of collecting customer feedback, including the motivation that is sparked by praise, as well as the increase in business that results from plentiful positive evaluations. Incorporate these steps into your business processes to see a major surge in reviews!

About the author

Kerry Hayden is the Marketing Communications Coordinator at HouseCall Pro, an all-in-one business management platform for home service professionals. HouseCall Pro streamlines and automates business processes, increasing organization and efficiency.