How (and When) to Ask for Online Reviews
Written by John Kennedy on July 23, 2020
In our last blog post, we discussed the importance of online reviews for local businesses. Knowing that positive reviews boost search rankings and have a powerful influence on potential customers, many business owners may be asking, “How can I ask my customers for reviews without coming off as overbearing?” Asking for a review may feel a bit awkward or intimidating, but it shouldn’t. Satisfied customers are generally happy to take a few moments to share their experience. In fact, approximately 70% of consumers will leave a review for a business, if asked to do so (Search Engine Land). If you aren’t prompting them to leave a review, the thought may never cross their mind.
Timing is key!
What is the optimal method and timing to ask for a review? The answer depends on the industry you’re in and the product/service you provide. For some businesses, it is most effective to ask for a review immediately after making the sale. Other businesses will get more responses by asking anywhere from one week to one month after the sale, once the customer has had time to truly experience the product.
For example, an e-commerce business probably shouldn’t ask for a review until the product has been shipped to the customer and they’ve had a chance to use it. However, it would make sense for a dental office to ask a patient for an online review just before they leave. Timing is crucial, so you should consider at what point in time will your customer have all the information they need to give useful feedback.
How to start the conversation
Whether your business is a physical retail store or a tradesman service that travels to customers’ homes, it can be effective to start a conversation that prompts in-person feedback before requesting an online review. After a purchase or service has been completed, use one of these lines to open the dialogue:
- “Did you find everything you were looking for?”
- “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”
- “How was your experience with us today?
- “How are you feeling about your (PRODUCT/SERVICE)?”
- “Do you have any feedback for us to make your next experience even better?”
If the customer replies with negative feedback, it gives you the opportunity to resolve the situation before they go home and leave a negative review. If the customer replies with positive feedback, you can thank them and politely ask them to leave a review so that other people can see their feedback.
Try following up with something like this:
“I’m so glad to hear that! We love sharing feedback with folks who are considering choosing us, so if you wouldn’t mind sharing your thoughts in an online review, it would be much appreciated.”
You can also give customers a physical card as they leave that asks for a review and provides a link to do so. That way, your customer can continue on with their busy day and have a physical reminder to leave a review when they get home and empty their pockets.
Utilize your customer service representatives’ phone skills
If your business has a customer service phone line, this can be a perfect opportunity to ask for reviews. When someone calls customer service with a question or a problem and gets great service, they will hang up feeling satisfied and grateful for the help they received. Customers tend to be impressed by a company that will go the extra mile to resolve an issue. Use that moment to your advantage!
Try adding something like this to the end of your customer service call script:
“If you have any feedback about the service we provided you today, we would appreciate if you left us a review on (YOUR REVIEW PLATFORM OF CHOICE).”
Be careful to only include a review request when the customer is satisfied or when they have expressed gratitude. If they had a frustrating problem and it took a long time to resolve it on the phone, it’s probably not the best idea to request a review at that time.
Request reviews via email
- Email Blasts: If you have an email list of past/current customers, you can send out an email blast to request reviews from everyone who has made a purchase.
- Follow-Up Emails: Email customers shortly after their purchase while you are still fresh in their minds. Unless you are in an industry where customer satisfaction is an immediate response, remember to wait until they’ve had enough time to experience your product/service before sending the email. Make sure to thank them for their business and express how much their feedback means to you. Increase your responses by making it genuine and personal.
- Target “Star Customers”: Your “star customers” are the ones who have been using your service for a long time, purchase from you frequently, and/or have spoken highly of you in the past. These customers are always happy to advocate for you.
Make it as simple as possible for customers to go from your email to your review page. You can use Google’s instructions on creating a short link for reviews that can be included in your emails.
Alternatively, you can use a service such as Reviews.io, which allows you to easily create and automate review request emails that look professional and make it incredibly easy for the customer to leave their feedback. Services like these make it easy for you by eliminating the need to manually send the emails yourself. Plum also provides reputation management services, which includes sending out review requests and monitoring reviews for you.
Your customer base may have different habits when it comes to checking their email, but research conducted by Reputation.com indicates greater response rates in the morning and in the middle of the week.
Include a review link on your order confirmation and “Thank You” pages
If your business offers online ordering, you probably have an order confirmation or “thank you” page that customers are directed to after they place an order. You may have a similar page if you provide downloadable content, such as whitepapers, eBooks, or software products. For some industries, this may be too soon to ask for a review because the customer hasn’t experienced the product yet. However, it can’t hurt to include a review link on this page as well.
We all know what a crucial role online reviews play in the modern business world, especially for local businesses. If you are trying to figure out how to ask for reviews, think about when you can catch your customers at a moment when they are feeling satisfied and ready to provide feedback. Remember to keep it simple and make it easy for them to leave a review. Don’t be afraid to try different methods and see what works for you. If you need some personalized recommendations, you can always talk to a marketing specialist at Plum! We’d be happy to help you create a strategy for getting more reviews and improving your reputation on the web.