Customer reviews are the cornerstone of every successful business, and without them, your business will crumble.
The reason for this is obvious. Customers don’t trust businesses as much as they used to. In fact, Hubspot Research shows that 65% of customers don’t believe press releases from companies. Moreover, 71% do not trust sponsored ads found on social networks, and 69% do not trust ads at all.
What customers trust, however, are real reviews from other customers. In fact, BrightLocal survey reveals that 68% of consumers must see at least four other reviews before trusting a brand.
By collecting reviews, you’re not only helping your company increase its sales, but you’re also helping your customers understand what your business is all about, allowing them to feel more secure about their purchase.
So how do you get all those much-coveted reviews from scratch? Here are some tips.
1. Ask Questions
Most customers aren’t exactly thrilled when being asked directly to leave their feedback, but may become more inclined to respond when you initiate a conversation starting with open-ended questions.
For example, instead of just saying “Please rate your recent purchase”, you might want to ask “How was your recent experience with customer support?” or “How are you liking our product?”
Asking these kinds of questions also allows you to make sure your customers are happy before they submit their review. The last thing you’d want is to ask them to rate your product or service, only to learn later that they’ve had a terrible experience.
This email from Bioclarity is a perfect example of an open-ended question that effectively and sneakily asks for a product rating.
2. Offer Incentives
The secret to getting a review from a customer is understanding that their time is just as valuable as yours, and that in some cases, there has to be something in it for them to make them want to write a review for you.
Incentives can be as simple as a free sample of your merchandise, a contest ticket for a chance to win a bigger prize, or a discount code for future transactions. However, keep in mind that there can be legal ramifications in giving away incentives in exchange for reviews. For instance, it is illegal to buy Amazon reviews, and doing so can get your account closed, and you might even be sued.
Even Neil Patel agrees that giving your customers incentives can motivate them to write you a review. What’s wrong, however, is to bribe them to leave you a positive feedback. While you do hope to receive a good review, never specify it whenever giving your customers an incentive.
Notice that in the example above, Snap Deal simply left an option for the customer to leave a review and did not specifically ask for a 5-star. In fact, the “Love it, Like it, or Hate it?” question above even brought up the possibility of a customer leaving a bad review.
You should see offering incentives as a means to know what your customer genuinely thinks about your product so that you can further improve it, and not as a way to obtain positive reviews that you didn’t really earn.
3. Follow the Uber Method of Rating Customers
One of the easiest ways to obtain customer reviews without asking for one is to give reviews to your customers first. Depending on the industry you’re in, you may be able to view user profiles and leave them a positive review after an amazing experience with said customer.
Uber’s feedback system sets a very good example for this. The ride-hailing company gives equal importance to passenger and driver feedback, both of which are invaluable to the company. Making reviews a two-way system has actually helped Uber grow their business, as this allows them to monitor customer complaints and weed out bad drivers, essentially improving their service over time.
There is no shortage of bad Uber reviews, but because they’re honest and transparent about them, they are helping drivers and passengers make informed decisions before booking a ride.
Providing feedback to your customers is a non-direct, discreet nudge that may prompt them to return the favor. Whenever possible, you should always give before you ask.
4. Allow Your Customers to Test-Run Your Product
Today’s consumers love voicing out their opinions about the products and services they use. Sometimes, they’re actually doing it already without being asked. You’d want to make sure that their efforts are being redirected towards giving your brand a positive image.
Inviting a few people to test your products is a safe, relatively inexpensive way to obtain those very first reviews you want so badly. All it takes is letting them in to try out a new product line or a premium feature. Doing this makes them feel special, like they are a part of a select group somewhat responsible for all the future improvements and decisions your brand will have to make. It also allows you to spot errors at inception before you go all out on a large-scale production.
5. Respond to All Reviews – Good or Bad
Whether you’re a fledgling startup or an established brand, you will encounter negative reviews every now and then, and there’s nothing much you can do about it. However, how you handle the reviews or accusations thrown at your product or service is what sets you apart from your competitors.
In case the first reviews given to you are negative, all is not lost. While this may not be something you originally wanted, customer feedback is instrumental to the success of any business, as this allows you to see things from a different perspective.
Responding to negative reviews gives you a chance to turn the experience to a more positive one, which says a lot about your brand’s values.
Your very first customer reviews can help decide the fate of your business. After all, without them, there’s no way for other people to discover your product or service, no matter how good it may seem. Moreover, getting an adequate number of genuine, impartial reviews gives you a lot of insight that will help you determine if you’re building your brand in the right direction.