8 Tips to get customer reviews to grow your small business

As a business owner, you probably ask yourself how to create a trusted brand. Why should customers pick you over a known and trusted brand name? The answer is word of mouth. In other digital age words, you need to make use of the digital equivalent: the online review. Discover how.

Jessica True
customer experience notes

Jessica True is a Senior Director, Marketing Strategy & Operations at Dialpad, a modern business communications platform that turns conversations into opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns.

How do reviews help your small business grow?

There are many ways that quality reviews benefit businesses. 

Imagine you’re looking at an item for sale online. If you scroll down and do not find any reviews, you may decide not to add the item to your cart. 

On the other hand, what if you found multiple reviews from real customers describing their experience with ordering, delivery, and quality? You would be far more likely to trust the credibility of the business and feel confident making a purchase based on the insights given by other customers like yourself. 

This is how businesses grow: by strengthening relationships with customers and leveraging social proof to draw in more customers. 

But how do you encourage customers to review your small business?

8 tips to generate more customer reviews

1. Ask for a review

It might seem obvious, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get it. Don’t underestimate the value of verbally mentioning to customers how much you would appreciate their honest feedback. 

Train your employees to bring up reviews to customers – especially customers who seem particularly satisfied. Your in-store staff and online/phone support agents can deliver a human touch by getting the timing right and personalizing the request for each customer. 

For example, at the end of a productive phone call, a support worker should be authorized to take advantage of the rapport they’ve built to say, “It would be great if you’d consider dropping a review about your experience today!”

Remember, the goal is to be heartfelt, not pushy. 

“Train your employees to bring up reviews to customers – especially customers who seem particularly satisfied”.

How to ask for customer reviews

2. Improve customer experience

You don’t just want to collect the maximum amount of reviews you can – you need to prioritize quality reviews. And how do you make sure that the reviews you receive are positive? First, you need to make sure the customer experience is exceptional. 

If a customer is delighted by your product, service, or the experience they had, they’re more likely to take the time to write a glowing review. As well as ensuring that every customer is treated with kindness and respect, you also need support staff and mechanisms to help turn a bad customer experience into a good one if things go wrong.

“If a customer is delighted by your product, service, or the experience they had, they’re more likely to take the time to write a glowing review.”

3. Collect contact details during billing

A key technique to landing a review is to ask for the customer’s email address and/or phone number at the time of purchase. If someone is willing to share their contact details with a business, they’ll likely be open to sharing their experience with others. 

If you’re collecting phone numbers for future communications, it’s worth utilizing software for outbound call centers to manage tasks like call recording, local phone number management, and CRM integrations. 

Email is also a powerful tool. While the purchase is still fresh in the customer’s mind, why not send a friendly follow-up email asking for their honest feedback? Just make sure you have clear data security policies in place, otherwise customers may be unwilling to trust you with their private information.

“While the purchase is still fresh in the customer’s mind, why not send a friendly follow-up email asking for their honest feedback?”

4. Offer incentives on future purchases

A little encouragement goes a long way! Now, to be clear: we are not suggesting that you should buy reviews. Most platforms have strict guidelines about offering any kind of compensation in exchange for a positive review. Fake reviews are a bad look. 

However, this does not mean you can’t offer perks in exchange for a review – be it discounts or coupon codes to use on future orders. These can be a great nudge for customers on the fence about taking the time to leave a review.

This is also a great strategy to win back lost customers. By offering an incentive in exchange for their feedback, you show that you value their opinion and can entice them to buy from your brand again.

As long as the same incentive is granted to two-star reviewers and five-star reviewers, you are in the clear.

A woman viewing discount coupon on mobile

5. Personalize your customer review request

When you’re reaching out to lots of customers, it makes sense to use a template. It’s still important, however, that you try and customize the request wherever possible. This could be as simple as including the customer’s name in the request message, or mentioning their recent purchase as context before asking for a review.

6. Shorten the process

The easier you can make it for customers to leave a review, the more you’re likely to receive. In their already busy lives, customers do not want to spend time “learning” how to leave a review for a company that hasn’t bothered to make it simple. 

Rather than expecting customers to follow an elaborate path, keep the process simple. For example, you could include review reminders on your website, so that customers can reach the form in one click. 

Include a clear call to action in any request for a review. For example, if you want the customer to leave a Google review, use a bold button or link text which directs straight to the review platform.

7. Use automation

Regardless of the size of your business, it can be hard to stay on top of all operations and chase reviews. This is where you can take advantage of automation, incorporating tools into your review process to save you time and ensure no customers slip through the net – regardless of how busy your team is. 

Implementing effective feedback management systems alongside automation tools can further streamline the process, allowing you to efficiently collect, monitor, and respond to customer reviews.

With an automated customer service system, you can set up automated email and text reminders to be sent at key times when they are most likely to oblige. This kind of tool is also helpful in tracking, monitoring, and managing the reviews you receive. As your business expands and reaches more customers, automation tools ensure that your customer communication efforts grow too.

Happy lady smiles and holds her mobile

8. Respond to every review

If and when someone takes the time to review your business, the least you can do is respond. If all you can manage is a simple, well-timed “thank you” on every review, that is still better than not replying at all. 

Ideally, though, your response should be personalized and uniquely worded. It’s also good practice to respond in the same polite, friendly manner, whether the review is expressing positive or negative sentiment. 

Speaking of negative reviews – don’t get discouraged! If 100% of the reviews on your site were excessively positive, users might start doubting their authenticity. All real businesses will have unhappy customers now and then. 

Take bad reviews as an opportunity to learn and grow. Try to respond promptly, acknowledging your mistake, and writing a personal apology (even if you don’t think you’re to blame). Offering resolution or compensation is a nice touch, as well. 

You may find common themes popping up in more negative reviews. For example, if multiple people complain that items are too expensive, it may be time to reconsider how much you should be charging

When visitors to your site see that you respond to every review – good and bad – it leaves a positive impression of your brand. You’re proving that the business is truly invested in customer sentiment. This incentivizes newer customers to share their thoughts with a business that they can trust to respond.

Final thoughts

It’s worth taking the time to reach out to customers and encourage them to write reviews – the difference it makes to growth is outstanding, especially for small businesses still building their image and reputation. 

Reviews are a way of proving your credibility and creating more sales. Plus, they can be a great part of any content marketing strategy – letting you talk about your products using quotes from actual customers, not just your own words.

Make sure the process of leaving a review is simple, perhaps by integrating automation. Reach out to your customers through a variety of channels, personalizing your request as much as you can – and don’t forget to reply to any feedback you receive. 

“Reviews are a way of proving your credibility and creating more sales”.

The human touch is everything: you’re a small business, not a faceless corporation. By connecting to customers on a human level, you can be sure to grow and thrive.

*The purpose of this page is solely to provide information and should not be considered as financial advice.
**Melio does not provide legal, tax or accounting advice; you should consult a professional advisor before making any financial decisions.