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Why Customers Don't Leave Reviews (And How To Get More)


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You've heard the stats.


82% of custome­rs check reviews before­ choosing a business.


If a business has at least five reviews, it increases the odds of purchase by 270%


68% of consumers will pay up to 15% more if they feel like they'll have a better experience.


You know how important reviews are. That's why it's so damn frustrating when customers who seem happy with your service don't leave a review.


Three statistics about how customers interact with reviews and how it impacts your business.

WHAT'S NEXT:

  • Why customers don't leave reviews

  • How to get more reviews

  • Be Careful Offering Incentives For Reviews


Why Customers Don’t Leave Reviews


You didn’t ask

People generally won't go out of their way to do it on their own.


You buried your request

If you include your request for a review with other information, like a receipt, or ask them to do anything else, they'll miss it or feel like it's too much work.


It was too complicated to do

The more steps there are to a review, the more likely customers will quit in the middle of the process.


For example, if they have to have a certain account or sign in to an account, their chances of following through plummet.


They didn’t know what to say

The uncertainty creates resistance, so they don't say anything.


It was asked at the wrong time

Ask too early, and they won't have enough information to give a review. Ask too late, and they'll have already moved on.


You didn’t follow up

People forget, and they're busy.


They’re “outing” themselves

There's something scary about stamping our seal of approval on something publicly.


The experience wasn’t as good as you think

Most people keep minor complaints to themselves, but those minor issues may mean they don't want to leave a review.


A gif from the movie Gladiator where he's saying "Are you not entertained?!" to the crowd.


How to get more reviews

Getting people to leave you reviews is a mix of art and psychology. I've created a list of nudges below that can help you get more reviews.


I've added an asterisk* next to what I would consider "must-do" nudges. The rest are nudges for you to pick and choose from based on where you feel like it makes sense with your business.


*Ask - duh

In order to receive, you need to ask.


Not many people will do it of their own free will unless they're pissed off.


*Time it right

Every industry is different, but consider when they get the full impact of the service you provide.

If you're a hairstylist or house cleaner, it makes sense to ask for a review on the same day your service is completed.


If you offer a travel planning service, waiting until your customer is back home and settled from their trip is likely a better time to ask.


*Follow up & time it well

If a customer didn't leave a review after your first request, be sure to follow up and ask again.

People are busy, they forget, or they start and get distracted.


Just as it's important to time your initial request for a review well, there may be better times for when you ask again.


There may be a time after your service when they have gotten to see more benefits from the work you did.


Example: Dog Trainer

Sending a follow-up request for a review 4 weeks after they've completed your dog training program may make sense as they've seen the fruits of their labor in the real world.


Set the expectation

Let customers know to look out for your review request and where it's coming from.


Example -


"Later today, I'll send your receipt to your email. You'll also see another email from me with a link asking you to leave a review. If you would, just click that link and take two minutes to leave a review with what you had done and how the service went."


In this example, we've set the expectation of -


  1. When they'll get the request

  2. Where the request will show up

  3. The steps to take

  4. How long it'll take to complete it


In the section below, I'll share what to add to your request to get customers more motivated to follow through.


Give them a social incentive (but not a bribe)

We humans can be very charitable, but we're also very self-interested.


When making the request, you can dial into people's desire to be viewed a certain way, especially among their peers.


Let's add on to the example script from above -


"Later today, I'll send your receipt to your email. You'll also see another email from me with a link asking you to leave a review. If you would, just click that link and take two minutes to leave a review with what you had done and how the service went.


Reviews really help me as a small business owner and help the community find the right (service) for them."


That addition leans into a desired identity (being someone who is helpful) and shows that they can influence their community.


Respond to other reviews

75% of customers regularly or always check reviews before purchasing.


By responding to reviews, customers see that you pay attention and it's not a wasted effort.


Fun stat: 88% of customers choose a business that responds to all of its reviews, versus 47% would pick one that doesn’t reply to reviews at all.



*Eliminate as many steps as possible

Think through every click or potential roadblock a customer may run into as they try to leave a review.


Eliminate what you can and provide help for the rest.


Frame the request around "People like us, do things like this"

Show customers that people like them leave reviews.


A simple example of this might be sharing a stat like, "X amount of people who got (service) left a review)."


To quote Seth Godin, who coined the phrase, "People like us do things like this" -


Culture is more important than strategy, than benefits, than features. Culture is more important than price, than governments, than technology.

If you want to overcome a customer's resistance to doing something, tie it into their identity and their community.


Lean into the human need to reciprocate

When someone does something for us, we're naturally inclined to return the favor.


What's given doesn't need to be expensive, just unexpected.


For example, if you offer car detailing services, you might give a 3-pack of car air fresheners before you leave.


You're not tying what you give to asking for a review. A small, unexpected surprise simply makes someone more likely to give a review when you later ask.


Guide them on what to say

Not everyone is great with words, and figuring out what to say can feel a bit overwhelming.

You can provide a few prompts to make it easier for them to know what to share.


Example prompts

  • What problem they were experiencing (the reason for your service)

  • Issues they had when trying to solve it before finding you

  • The actual services you provided (Definitely this one because it helps with SEO)

  • What about the service they appreciated

  • Any constructive feedback they may have

  • How this service will improve their life

  • What would you tell someone considering this service?

  • Before and/or after pictures


Keep it to no more than 3 prompts; otherwise, it'll be overwhelming.


Bonus: Potential customers trust reviews with more details.



Be Careful Offering Incentives For Reviews

It's a common practice for businesses to offer a discount, gift card, or some other bribe in exchange for a review.


But common doesn't mean legal or ethical.


Incentivizing (or buying) positive reviews violates the Federal Trade Commission Act. These reviews become false advertising and can mislead customers.


If you're using a third-party platform such as Google or Yelp, they have their own policies and you can lose your placement on their site for breaking the rules.


DIG DEEPER: Check out these guidelines from the FTC to keep you in the clear.

  • Don’t ask for reviews from people who haven’t used or experienced your service.

  • Don’t ask for reviews only from customers you think will leave positive ones.

  • Don’t ask family and friends for reviews, at least not without ensuring that they disclose their personal connection in the reviews.

  • If you offer an incentive for a review, don’t condition it, explicitly or implicitly, on the review being positive. Even without that condition, the review should disclose the incentive, because its offer may introduce bias or change the weight and credibility that readers give the review.


THE TAKEAWAY

Your reviews influence potential customer behavior. Having enough quality reviews can make the difference between scrounging for customers and having a waitlist. To get more positively impactful reviews, you'll need to design the process so customers follow through.

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