Online reviews can make or break a business. But most people won’t go out of their way to leave a review—you need to ask them. 

Learning the right way to ask customers for reviews will help drown out negative reviews, improve your reputation, and generate more revenue for your business.

Before you know it, you’ll have hundreds, if not thousands, of online reviews for your business across multiple review websites and platforms. 

5 Steps to Ask For a Review

Asking for customers to leave you a review is much easier if you have a playbook to follow. The entire process can be summarized in just five simple steps:

  1. Establish Your Presence on Review Sites
  2. Set Up Automated Review Requests
  3. Give Your Customers a Reason to Leave a Review
  4. Monitor and Respond to Customer Reviews
  5. Showcase and Promote Your Best Reviews

The Easy Parts of Asking For a Review

Lots of business owners don’t know when to ask for a review. They think the opportunities are scarce. But this is a common misconception. 

There are actually tons of opportunities to ask customers for reviews on a daily basis. The easiest time to ask is immediately following the sale. 

Following a purchase, you can set up automated prompts for reviews through emails, text messages, thank you pages, and other landing pages. This is when it’s helpful to partner with an online reputation management company, as they’ll have the technology you need to automate this process.

If you’re on the fence about working with a reputation management company or handling this on your own, it can’t hurt to start with the free analysis. Then you can make a decision from there.

A full-service reputation management company can also help suppress negative reviews, remove negative reviews, promote positive reviews, and get more reviews than your competition. 

The Difficult Parts of Asking for a Review

The hardest part about asking for reviews is that you can’t control what people say. 

Some customers will have a bad experience with your business. If you’re asking those people to leave a review, don’t be surprised if they share candid feedback. 

Many business owners struggle with negative reviews because they take things personally. The sooner you start looking at negative reviews as a chance to get better and improve your business, the easier it will be moving forward.

There will always be a handful of customers that can’t be pleased, no matter how hard you try. But those scenarios are generally anomalies and shouldn’t be something for you to worry about.

Having patience is another challenge for some business owners, especially if you currently have low star ratings and lots of negative reviews across multiple platforms. You can’t jump from a 3-star rating to a 5-star rating overnight. It’s going to take some time for you to see an improvement. 

But once you start asking for reviews and the volume of online reviews increases, you should start to see the positive reviews outweigh the negative ones. 

Knowing When to Stop Asking for a Review

The other difficult part of asking customers for a review is knowing when to stop asking. For example, if the customer doesn’t respond to your review request the first time, you may want to nudge them with an automated email or text. But how many times should you nudge?

A gentle nudge or two can sometimes work, as some customers may forget to leave a review immediately after the purchase. They may respond positively to the reminder.

However, if you send too many reminders, the customer may feel frustrated with the pressure to leave a review. This could lead to a negative review—simply out of spite. 

When you hire an online reputation management company to represent you, the company can help you find the sweet spot for how many times to request reviews from a procrastinating customer.

Step 1 – Establish Your Presence on Review Sites

Before you can ask customers to leave you a review, you need to guide them in the right direction. “Can you please leave us a review?” without any link or direction isn’t going to get the job done.

For digital requests, you’ll want a direct link to one or more specific review sites. Even if you’re asking in person, you should direct the customer to a specific site.

Claim Any Unclaimed Profiles

Make sure you set up a business profile on all of the most popular review sites related to your brand and industry. Prioritize the ones that already have existing reviews. 

Here are some examples of sites where customers leave reviews online:

  • Yelp
  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Yellowpages
  • Trustpilot
  • Foursquare
  • ConsumerReports

Depending on your business, there might be some other platforms to consider. For example, Amazon sellers would obviously want to direct customers to leave a review on Amazon. B2B software companies would want to establish a presence on sites like G2.

Claiming your profiles gives you more control over what’s being said about your brand online. For example, you can’t remove Yelp reviews from your business profile until you’ve claimed it.

Make Sure All Your Information is Accurate

Once you’ve claimed your business profiles, you need to go through and verify all of your information. The format of everything will obviously vary from platform to platform, but here’s a quick checklist of the information you should have on every profile:

  • Business name
  • Physical address
  • Mailing address
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Website
  • Links to social media platforms
  • Hours of operation
  • Menu (if applicable)
  • Services (if applicable)

You should also use this opportunity to add professional photos to your profile. This is your chance to show off your products, food, customers, employees,  services, and anything else that you’d like to highlight when potential customers land on this site to check you out.

Step 2 – Set Up Automated Review Requests

Once you claim your profiles, you’re ready to send customers to these sites with an automated review request. There are a few different options to consider, depending on how your brand interacts with customers.

Email Requests

Any post-purchase email should contain a section that asks for a review. You can also set up automated campaigns specifically designed around reviews, where the request is the entire purpose of the message.

Experiment with both of these options. But make sure you consider the timing of each message.

For example, let’s say you’re running an ecommerce website. Asking customers to review your product in an order confirmation email may not be so effective because they haven’t received the product yet. You’d be better off waiting until the product has been delivered for at least a week.

But a restaurant would have better luck asking for a review immediately following the meal. If you wait a week in this scenario, the customer might not even remember what they ordered. 

Mobile Requests

You can set up automated review requests via text message. This would obviously require the customer’s permission, but it works well in scenarios where you’re communicating with them over the phone.

For example, when you’re offering phone support to a customer, you can end the conversation by asking if you can send them a review request via SMS messaging directly to their phone.

For those of you with a mobile app, you can prompt customers to leave you reviews with push notifications or in-app messages. 

In-Person Requests

Technically, asking someone for a review in person isn’t automated. But you can look at it as just another step in the checkout flow—like telling the customer the total amount due or asking them to swipe a card.

Having a company automate your review request process with the right technology will drastically increase the chances of your customers completing your request.

Step 3 – Give Your Customers a Reason to Leave a Review

Why should your customers leave you a review? This is not a hypothetical question.

Giving some type of reason or incentive can go a long way. So make sure to include your reasoning in the request, whether that’s in person or digitally. 

Make it clear you’re not just soliciting positive reviews—you want honest feedback. Explain the benefits of getting reviews for your business. Be honest and explain you’re trying to reach new customers. Let them know you value their opinion. Share that you always want the customer to have a positive experience and that you’re trying to get better. 

Stick with one or two reasons, and move on. You can experiment with different reasons to see if some propositions work better than others. 

Just always make sure you’re asking nicely, and make it as easy as possible on whoever you’re asking. Saying please, thanking them in advance, and providing them a direct link to the review site will definitely increase your chances of success. You can also offer a small incentive, like a discount on a future purchase. 

Discount Codes

Providing a discount code to customers as an incentive for leaving a review is one of the fastest ways to get more online reviews. If people feel like they’re receiving something valuable in return for their time and effort, it increases the chances that they’ll leave a review—and may even put them in a better mood while they’re writing it, which could be good news for you.

Our favorite part about this strategy is that it also incentivizes more purchases. If you’re giving customers a discount code, they’ll have even more of a reason to buy something else from your business in the near future. 

Loyalty Rewards

This strategy only works if you currently have a customer rewards program in place. If not, consider implementing a new loyalty program as a way to kill two birds with one stone. You can get more reviews while simultaneously increasing customer retention. 

The amount of points you offer for each review is up to you, and it will vary based on the structure of your rewards program. But something along the lines of 500 points as the equivalent of $5 in store credit is usually sufficient. 

Contest Giveaways

In this scenario, you can offer something of more significant value in a weekly or monthly drawing. Everyone who leaves a review will be eligible for the giveaway. 

Since you’re only giving away one of these prizes at a time, it could be something worth $100 or more. Maybe it’s something as simple as a $100 gift card. Or you could get more creative and give away free products.

Make it Easy

People want to avoid going through a long and time-consuming process to write a review. Even if they have a strong opinion they want to share, the chances of getting a review drop with each step the customer needs to take.

The automated review process we set up in the previous step is definitely helpful, but it’s still not always enough of an incentive to proceed.

One of the easiest ways to reduce friction when asking for a review is by asking customers to rate you on a one-star to five-star scale.

With a star-rating scale, customers just have to click a button to submit the rating. But once they land on this page, you can have a field that prompts them to provide additional feedback in the form of a written review.

In this case, the reason why customers will be more willing to leave a review is because it’s so easy—so why not?

Personalize Your Review Requests

Beyond being an important strategy for managing your online reputation, asking customers for reviews is a big part of your online marketing strategy. And just like the rest of your marketing campaigns, personalization is a key factor in achieving success.

Starting your request with “Dear Sir or Madam” isn’t going to yield the results you’re looking for.

Instead, do everything in your power to make this request personalized to the customer. Examples include:

  • Using the customer’s first name (more than once)
  • Mentioning the specific product or service they purchased
  • Adding the location they purchased it from
  • Status updates related to customer loyalty milestones

Including this type of personalized information is much easier if you’re using a robust CRM platform. Check out our top recommendations if the system you’re currently using doesn’t support this level of personalization.

If possible, try to have the request come from you or a specific person within your company. Not just the name in the email signature but also in the sender line.

This way, the customer feels like they’re getting asked to do something by a real human—not just a nameless and faceless corporation.

Step 4 – Monitor and Respond to Customer Reviews

Your job isn’t over once the request has been made. Now you need to see if customers are actually leaving reviews. 

Then you can see what kind of feedback you’re getting and respond appropriately. 

Set Up Alerts

Manually monitoring all incoming reviews across every review platform isn’t practical or realistic for most businesses. Instead, you can simply set up alerts so you’re notified whenever you get a new review.

Alerts also make it easier to act promptly—which is especially important if you’re responding to negative reviews.

For larger organizations with multiple locations and different managers, having an alert system that goes to the right people will make everyone’s job much easier. 

This also ensures that the customer is contacted by the appropriate person during the reply. A reply from a restaurant manager is more impactful than a reply from the corporate office of a franchise.

Use a Review Dashboard

Google, Yelp, and all major review sites let you set up alerts through the individual platform. But getting bombarded with emails is tough to manage at scale, and there’s a good chance some reviews will slip through the cracks.

This might not be important if you’re only getting one or two reviews each week on a single site. But once you start getting dozens of daily reviews across multiple review sites, you’re definitely going to want everything in a consolidated dashboard. 

Review dashboards are also helpful when it comes to being proactive about your brand image. For example, you could get out ahead of potential problems and respond appropriately to negative publicity if you notice a pattern of similar reviews across multiple platforms.

Act Quickly

Time is of the essence when you’re monitoring reviews. 

Replying a week later isn’t as effective as responding immediately. This not only shows your customers that you care about their feedback, but it also gives you a chance to get ahead of potentially negative reviews. 

Many review sites give users the option to filter reviews by date. So the most recent ones will appear first. 

In the event that someone has a bad experience, a prompt reply from the business owner can make prospects feel better about the situation. Apologizing, owning your mistake, and offering a resolution can save your relationship with a disgruntled customer and show new customers how seriously you take feedback.

Monitor Feedback

Take the time to compile and organize similar feedback. This is one of the best ways to learn where your business shines while simultaneously identifying areas for improvement.

Your reviews will contain tons of valuable information that you otherwise may not hear from your customers.

You don’t necessarily need to take each review as the stone-cold truth. But look for patterns where customers have similar thoughts or experiences.

For example, maybe you’re getting lots of positive comments about one specific employee. Or maybe you’re hearing lots of negative remarks about a particular product.

Whether the feedback is positive or negative, you’re now armed with the insights to take steps in the right direction.

Step 5 – Showcase and Promote Your Best Reviews

Now it’s time to pick out your best reviews and show them to the world. Here’s why this is important.

Some customers are loyal to specific review sites. So if a customer only checks Yelp, then they’ll never see your best reviews on Google. 

Here, the idea is to showcase the best reviews on your website and social channels to broaden the reach and expose them to the widest possible audience.

Customer Testimonials

Some businesses can take reviews a step further by showcasing customer testimonials and reviews on their website. This works really well for service-based businesses and B2B organizations.

Maybe you run a personal training business. While a customer review is great, a testimonial that includes before and after photos will really prove what you can accomplish. 

If you find some customers who have interest in helping you with a customer testimonial, you may want to hire a professional writer, photographer, or video company to package the testimonial. You certainly don’t want the testimonial to seem forced or fake, but you do want it to appear professional and believable, and hiring pros may help you accomplish this.

Case Studies

Case studies work really well in the B2B space. You could put together a study about how much money you helped a business save, how your efforts helped generate a positive ROI, or how they were able to improve internal efficiencies. 

This type of initiative will take a lot more work than asking for a review. But sourcing your existing reviews for potential candidates is a simple first step. Then you can contact those people privately and see if they’re interested in participating.

You do not want to offer a customer free products or a discounted bill in exchange for being part of a case study. Someone may choose to reveal this information on the internet in a way to sabotage your company, making it appear as though you are bribing customers to improve your brand image.

To entice customer participation, you may want to promise link to the customer’s website as part of the case study. If the everything looks great on your site, the customer may even want to include a copy of the case study on their own website.