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How To Ask For Customer Reviews Without Alienating Your Customer

This post originally appeared on Mashable, and is written by Nellie Akalp. Nellie is a regular contributor to Tweak Your Biz.

No amount of advertising, tweeting, or direct mail can impact customers the way a customer review can. That’s because in the era of social media and online reviews, it’s not what you say about your business that matters; it’s what others say about your brand.

Don’t believe me? 90% of people are influenced in their buying decisions by positive online reviews, and 86% said their buying decisions were influenced by negative reviews.

How to Ask for Customer Reviews Without Alienating Your Customer

While online reviews are a precious commodity for any business, soliciting reviews from customers can be a delicate situation. In many cases, the biggest obstacle that small businesses have with online reviews isn’t getting negative ones: it’s getting them at all. Many small business owners can be skittish about asking customers for reviews, worrying that they’ll annoy and turn off a once happy customer.

However, if the success of your business truly hinges on online reviews, you’ll need to learn how to effectively ask for reviews from your customers. Here are seven tips to help you overcome the awkwardness and encourage customers to leave reviews:

# 1. Make writing a review as dead simple as possible

The average customer is not going to search for ways to leave your company a review (unless they have a negative experience to share). That’s why you need to make it as easy as possible for customers to offer a review. Put direct links to your review profiles in multiple places; for example, in a thank you or follow-up email.

# 2. Be present on multiple review sites

Everyone has her own preferred review site, so you’d do well to have a presence on multiple sites. This can make the process more seamless and comfortable for your customers. For example, there’s Yelp, Angie’s List, Google Local, Yahoo Local, LinkedIn, TrustLink, etc.

Ask customers to leave a review on their favorite site – never pressure them to write reviews on multiple sites. And be careful about pushing customers to write a review on a brand new site. For example, if a non-Yelper feels compelled to create a Yelp profile to give you a review, Yelp’s SPAM filters will most likely flag their review and all that hard work will disappear into thin air.

# 3. Be candid

If you feel shy about directly asking for a review, don’t feel that way. It’s a part of doing business these days. You can help your case and foster goodwill by being as candid and open as possible with your customers. You can say something as simple as “Your opinion matters to us and to other customers, so we’d really appreciate it if you take a few moments to review your experience” or “Do you read online reviews? We do, and so do other customers. That’s why we’d love if you take a few moments to review your experience.”

# 4. Tread the incentives line carefully

Many argue that offering any kind of incentive for reviews corrupts the process and should be avoided at all costs. However, like me, you probably appreciate the fact that anyone writing a review is taking time out of their busy schedule to benefit the overall community. Offering a small incentive (such as 20% off discount) can be a good way to show your appreciation and encourage customers to take the time to write a few words. You just need to make sure your offer is for writing a review, not just for writing a good review.

You can also surprise reviewers by sending them a discount code or other offer after they’ve posted a review. That way, you know your incentive didn’t impact their decision to write a review, but you still get to give a small token of appreciation for their efforts.

# 5. Consider your demographics

If your customers are millennials, they’re already accustomed to sharing every experience online and will most likely share their thoughts without much prompting. Bombarding customers under the age of 30 with requests to post a review will probably turn them off.  However, if you have older, or less social media savvy customers, they may need a little more prompting or hand-holding.

# 6. Turn reviewers into brand evangelists

While a positive review is great for your business, the real value lies in the reviewer. Think about it. That person took the time to describe and share the great experience they had with your business. How you can further leverage this relationship? For example, you can produce video testimonials from your top customers to post on your website. Nothing tells a story better than well-produced, sincere video clips from real people.

# 7. Don’t ignore the negative reviews

While your goal is to solicit good reviews, you’ll most likely encounter a bad review or two. Bad reviews aren’t always a business-killer, but how you handle a negative situation can be. Listen to and address the negative reviews; you may have a chance to turn an unhappy customer into a brand advocate.

At the end of the day, the best path to having great reviews is to offer a great product and customer experience. If you’re doing all you can to create a remarkable experience for your customers, there’s no reason not to remind them about the importance of sharing reviews.

Images:  ”Testimonial button key on white keyboard/


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Nellie Akalp is a passionate entrepreneur, small business advocate and mother of four. As CEO of, a legal document preparation filing service, Nellie helps entrepreneurs start a business. Incorporate an LLC,or set up Sole Proprietorships (DBAs) for a new or existing business.

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  • Hi Nellie, I believe that incentivising customers to review is perfectly acceptable and is good business practice. However, as you’ve described the offer should be for writing a review, not just for writing a good review. While criticism may be hard to take – it is extremely valuable when it comes to improving products, service and what we do.

  • Nellie Akalp

    Hi Niall –

    Yes, you are right on! 🙂

    Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and comment!

  • Javier Gómez

    Great post! If you request for a review by email, what should be the header of the message? Any suggestion or best practices?

  • Scott Painter

    I’m thinking I’ll add a link to this article with my ask for a review. The ask has become less about please do me a favor and more about this is how business is done.

  • David

    Thanks; this is really helpful! One question: I am a children’s entertainer at birthday parties. Is there a window in which I should ask for a review? For instance, if I performed at a birthday party 2 months ago, is it still ok to email and ask for a review? What about 6 months ago?


  • Such a good point. I’ve been searching for vendors and came across one that I really liked. They received a bad review from another customer. But, they responded to the customer and kindly and professionally addressed any issues or concerns. Suddenly, the bad review didn’t seem so bad anymore.

  • Lacy

    Hi David! I work in Digital Marketing and am happy to provide my thoughts for you. To answer your question, I think it depends on the relationship you built with the client. If it was a great party and the hosts were pleased (perhaps they even referred to you to their friends), I would absolutely ask for a review.

    You can go back as far as 6 months with no problem if you feel that you established a strong rapport with them. I’m not sure I’d go much further than that, simply because they may state the time you worked for them in the review and readers may wonder why they haven’t rehired you since that time.

    In that email, you could even ask for additional business, but do so in a comfortable manner. Ask the host in the email how they and the children have been and mention leaving a review. Be sure to include a link to the best online site to review you on so they don’t have to search themselves. At the end you could throw in a little something like, “If you happen to know of any birthday’s coming up that you think I’d be a fit for, I’d be happy to connect with the parent.” It’s not pushy, but let’s them know you’re available and interested in performing for their friend’s, as well. Hope that helps!

  • David

    Thank you for reading and responding to my question, Lacy! This is really, really useful advice. Very appreciative.

  • Great article! Lots of important insights here

  • Justin

    Can someone give me a good example of what to say to a customer when asking for a review.

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