This is How You Can Ask Customers for Reviews

Simon Bühl 3/16/2023

In this post, we will show you how to successfully ask customers for reviews and what you should consider in the process.

Table of contents
  1. Why are customer reviews important for companies?
  2. So how do we still find support in this abundance in the World Wide Web?  
  3. Which rating platforms are important for companies?
  4. What should be considered when asking customers for reviews?
  5. How can companies ask their customers for reviews?
  6. 3 templates and examples for asking customers for reviews
  7. How can companies counter negative reviews and portray them in a positive light?
  8. How can companies automate and simplify the process of collecting reviews?
  9. How can companies ensure that reviews are authentic and not forged?
  10. Tools that help companies collect customer reviews
  11. Conclusion

"Have you looked into the reviews?" For us, in our private lives, looking at customer reviews has long been part of almost every purchasing process. So neglecting this point as a company is definitely not a good strategy. But don't worry!

Our guest author Simon Bühl not only explains important basics to you, but also provides you with solutions on how to deal with the topic of customer reviews correctly from now on.

Why are customer reviews important for companies?

Customer reviews are extremely important for a company, as the developments in the area of virtual and augmented reality are fascinating and rapid, yet our online everyday life consists of screen views that do not make products tangible or qualitatively perceptible. So how is a potential customer supposed to know if the quality is right?

The ability to assess the quality becomes even worse when it comes to services, where we have certainly all been fooled by marketing talk, only to find out afterwards that the service provided was not as great as promised.

So how do we still find support in this abundance in the World Wide Web?  

We trust the experience of others! This can be done through seals of approval (Stiftung Warentest etc.), but even more interesting is the feedback from other real customers, who ideally have the exact same need as I do and are very satisfied with the solution offered. Conversely, customer reviews are therefore essential trust elements for companies to make their own products and services more attractive to interested parties or ultimately generate the conversion.

In addition, every customer review also means content that is not only interesting for the relevant search engines, but can also be integrated into your own customer communication

Which rating platforms are important for companies?

The question about the right platform often precedes the consideration of one's own goals: If I want to boost trust in my products, I should target product platforms like Amazon and collect customer reviews here.

Or systems like REVIEWS.io integrate into my shop, if my shop system allows it. Systems like REVIEWS.io are review and feedback management systems that make it easier for you to collect feedback and improve interaction with customers.

If I not only want to build trust in individual products, but rather push my own web shop efficiently (especially if it is brand new), then platforms like Trusted Shops or eKomi are a good start.

However, if the topic of service or, for example, general brand awareness is important, then reviews on Google or platforms like ProvenExpert are important. ProvenExpert also aggregates the reviews from other systems and bundles them for an even greater statement about your services and/or products.

So we see: There is quite a comprehensive range of review platforms. Therefore, aggregation platforms that bundle different review channels can be interesting under certain circumstances. However, this usually only makes sense if there is already a relevant number of reviews on different platforms.

By the way, review platforms have long since arrived in everyday recruiting. Interested applicants can find out on platforms like Kununu whether former and active employees are satisfied with the company they are aiming for. Again, it's all about trust.

What should be considered when asking customers for reviews?

The question of the right person to address for a review of the purchased product is not so straightforward to answer depending on the industry and case. Here, data can bring the decisive advantage, provided that your own system stores and assigns it sensibly.

An example: If a product was bought from you "as a gift"? Then one can assume that the buyer is not the person who can formulate a corresponding review. However, you can counteract this by changing the wording in the approach and not asking how your own experience with the product is, but whether the gift was well received. The magic word is personalization based on aggregated data.

By the way, some industries are particularly "susceptible" to gifts, like the entertainment or ticket industry: With high sales figures in gift-rich times like just before Christmas, you can hardly assume that the purchase information matches the actual visitors of the event. So you have to look more at the context of the survey: If your goal is to strengthen trust in your ticket shop or event software, then a customer survey along the lines of the data collected at the time of purchase makes sense. If it's about the event itself, then the survey should rather take place with the visitors or "manually" on site and through subsequent triggers.

Choosing the right medium should also be part of your thought process: Let's take the example of the event visitors, a direct survey on site by corresponding staff could be useful. Or you lay out survey forms on site, which you make more interesting with a trigger (a raffle among all participants). Creativity is ultimately required, or again the question arises, what exactly do you want to achieve. Because if you want to collect a lot of data and these should be directly aggregated and clustered, then the digital way is the much more interesting: Mailings or messages via messenger are among the options, either as one-off surveys or automated shipments following trigger points such as a purchase or the visit of a certain page.

Another advantage of a digital process is the possibility of personalization: You can adapt the customer survey individually to each individual customer, depending on which data is available to you. The possibilities are limitless: You can address existing customers differently and ask different questions than new customers. Perhaps you might prefer to get a customer review only from customers who have bought something from you at least 3 times? With the appropriate data base, no problem!

You can also control the approach: Do you stay generic or do you address the customers by name? You don't even have to answer the questions yourself, as A/B tests are perfect for such things. Believe me: It's usually always better to let customers decide than to cling to your own idea.

Finally, there's the question of timing. A generalization on this would be unprofessional, but it usually helps to imagine your own behavior as a customer: Could you review a product 3 days after purchasing it? Probably not, but certainly after 2 weeks. Again, your industry plays a very big role.

Another example: When can you evaluate if you are happy with an insurance company? When you sign the contract? Certainly not, because at that point you can only evaluate how much you liked the consultation. You can basically only evaluate an insurance company in the event of a claim, i.e. when a damage has occurred or when a pension contract is paid out. This is precisely the time when you as a company should ask for a review or shine with customers! However, you should never be intrusive.

In the example of the insurance company, you should therefore not ask for a review while the demolition company is still removing the house destroyed by fire, but rather when everything has been perfectly regulated and the customers have "moved into" their dream house again. Here again it helps to imagine yourself as a customer: When would you make a review?

How can companies ask their customers for reviews?

As outlined in the previous section, a digital review has many advantages, as does the use of a well-known review platform. This gives an interested party the opportunity to compare with competitors, which strengthens trust.

To ask your customers for reviews, you basically need the information on who your customers are and when a trigger for a survey has occurred (e.g., a purchase).

1. Create a data base

So you need a corresponding data layer, ideally stored in a suitable CRM or CDP tool. Both abbreviations, CRM for Customer Relationship Management and CDP for Customer Data Platform are often used synonymously, many however use the term CRM in the B2B context and CDP in the B2C context, ultimately boiled down, both are systems for recording, organizing, and aligning data to achieve one's own strategic goals. CDP, however, usually goes one step further and also collects, among other things, behavioral information from customers. A prominent software for this is from the American manufacturer Salesforce.

By the way, if you want to learn more about individual abbreviations or technical terms, you can also look in the OMR Glossary.

2. Channel selection

Once you have this information structured, it's about choosing the right channels. Again, the selection is once again very large, but it is recommended to first look where you are already "on the move". An obvious channel for asking for customer reviews is email. So if you have a Tool for newsletters and/or mail automations in use, you should also implement an appropriate process for customer reviews here. The same naturally applies to messengers like WhatsApp, if you communicate with your customers via these channels anyway.

If your brand only works in social media, then you should also collect the corresponding customer reviews here. Here again you have the choice: Do you create a general post in which you ask for reviews? Or do you specifically play ads with the request for feedback and link to the form to all people who, for example, bought something from you 10 days ago via retargeting?

You don't have to do everything at once at the beginning: Decide on a channel where you feel comfortable anyway and start here on familiar terrain. Whether you then use other channels or optimize the existing one with the help of A/B tests is again up to you.

3. Choosing triggers

In order to increase the motivation of your customers to take the time and write a review, you can also set triggers like discount codes or similar. But be careful that your request for a review does not seem strange or leave the impression with customers that you are desperately trying to "buy" reviews.

Just like customer reviews should ideally be authentic and honest, you should also ask for them: authentic and honest.

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3 templates and examples for asking customers for reviews

 
 

Theoretical example in general:

Hello / Moi / Good day,

we thank you very much for your purchase with us and hope you are satisfied.

If you could take a moment, we would very much appreciate a review on [platform with link]. Your feedback not only helps us, but also other interested parties to make the right choice.

Thank you very much and best regards

Your [Company name] Team

 
 

Practical example for products from the lifestyle sector:

Hello [First name],

Thank you for your purchase!

We're really curious how you like your new [company name] product. Have you already had time to try it out? What particularly delighted you?

If you are satisfied with us, we would appreciate a review on [platform with link] or a message from you.

Continue to enjoy your new product and best regards

Your [Company name] Team

 
 

Practical example for products from the textile sector:

Well ... tried out the new favorite piece yet?

For a pleasant and long-lasting wearing experience, we already show you HERE [Link to the care page] a few tips & tricks for proper care.

We are of course tremendously interested in your opinion on our product. Therefore, we would be very happy to receive a review in our shop [Link to the shop] and/or on [platform with link] from you!

Thank you again for your purchase and the very best regards

Your [Company name] Team

 
 

You notice even from these three examples that it very much depends on how you communicate with your customers on other channels. Instead of copying an example from the internet, you should look at which communication suits you, your brand and especially your target group.

The practical examples brought along from practice, by the way, are actively in use and flush daily customer feedback onto the stored platforms.

The content of the request can also touch on other topics, if they are suitable. You can see this in the second practical example (care tips). However, these excursions should only be short: Stay focused in your message and try not to include 20 other points.

The practical examples shown here from practice, by the way, have personalizations in use thanks to CRM systems in the background. This means specifically that customers are addressed by their correct first name and also the correct products or product names are displayed, whereby the link to the review in the shop leads directly to the right product page, among other things. If you do not have such technologies (yet) available, of course you can stay more general.

How can companies counter negative reviews and portray them in a positive light?

As strange as it may sound: A negative review isn't necessarily bad! If you only get negative feedback, that would be something else and possibly the right time to rethink your own business model. However, if your customer reviews are predominantly positive, then a negative review in between can even create more trust in you and your brand.

Why? When you look at reviews and see only effusive praise and 5/5 star reviews for a product or company, don't you become suspicious? It is well known everywhere that dubious providers also trick on established review platforms.

So if you receive a negative review, but deal with it confidently and best of all directly derive improvements or action recommendations for the customers from it, then your overall portfolio of reviews looks much more authentic and at the same time you signal to all interested parties: I take my customers' concerns seriously, even when things get critical.

Confident handling means that you deal with the review, but in a professional way. Yes, even when the inner child screams "No, you're stupid!" ;) But don't slide into the other extreme and submit to any opinion. It's all about eye level, as it is almost always in life, and stay factual. An emotional argument has, to my knowledge, never ended well on the internet.

If it's feasible, you can offer a solution to the problem directly. So with your reaction, look more to the future than to the past. If the criticism is more complex, you can also name a contact person to whom the customer can turn directly to find a solution together. Whether the author of this accepts the offer or not is ultimately irrelevant, as long as you have offered your support confidently and courteously in the public eye.

But definitely avoid publicly offering discounts or replacement services, as you will at worst attract people who also leave negative reviews just to receive compensation. Or in the next sales talk you will be confronted with the demand for a discount, because "someone in your customer reviews" certainly got it just like that. Still: Stay confident.

And finally, my personal opinion: Don't let everything happen to you! Your focus should be on respectful, confident interaction at eye level. But you can't entirely influence whether your counterpart sets this focus as well. The Internet, unfortunately, is also a breeding ground for unsound discussions and, at worst, for unwarranted hatred. So make sure you stay true to your own values and, if necessary, simply endure it when you encounter a "troll". I'm very sure that other internet users can't take unsound reviews as seriously as you should.

Most rating portals, by the way, offer the option of requesting deletion for such unsound feedback. Only rarely resort to this with a view to your authenticity, as not every negative review is equally bad, but can make you look better than before.

How can companies automate and simplify the process of collecting reviews?

There are enough finished solutions from which you can draw to automate your review process. A manual approach only makes sense if you are specifically looking for testimonial statements for your website. Otherwise, the administrative effort would be much too high!

You also have to consider that some review processes start even without your intervention, worst of all even without your knowledge. A classic in e-commerce is for example Amazon: If not everything runs through your own warehouse, but other retailers sell your goods, then for almost all brands at some point the time comes when they appear on Amazon. Often the brand owners don't know anything about it, because the item listing can be done by any dealer with access to Seller Central.

In the worst case, these item listings do not even meet a certain minimum standard and basically damage the brand image, but that again is a completely different topic. Important for the subject of customer reviews is the fact that from the time of listing your products can also be evaluated. And either unmoderated or even worse, not confidently and professionally. Even if you don't actively use such platforms, you as a brand owner should regularly look for yourself there and check if action needs to be taken. Sounds strange, but believe me, we have experienced this more often than we would like.

If you use a shop system, there are often already integrated solutions for customer reviews. The simplest variant would then be that you also give a hint in the direction of rating with transaction emails (order confirmations) triggered by the system. However, in this case, you usually do not have the possibility to choose intelligent timings or to track how well this approach performs, except for counting the reviews of course.

Therefore, add-ons from third-party providers are usually better. Depending on the shop system, different possibilities are offered, so solutions like Reviews.io work excellently with Shopify, but not with Shopware. As with any integration, therefore, one should first check or ask how things work together. However, the most data-driven and simultaneously creative scope is provided by a CRM system (and/or CDP), which not only collects information but also uses it automatically at the right time, thus providing a simple and efficient way for customer reviews.

A CRM system directly helps you answer open questions related to timing, approach, right person, and medium, as the necessary information is usually available and can be used. Even the topic of approach or how you appear in content to your contacts can be controlled through this, as almost all tools have solutions for A/B tests you can fall back on to find the best way. You are also completely free in your choice of platform that your customers should use for the reviews. So whether you ask for Google reviews or other feedback is entirely up to you.

How can companies ensure that reviews are authentic and not forged?

Even with the hardest suspicion, it doesn't make sense from a cost/benefit point of view to take off your sunglasses in a CSI manner and send off a profiler. However, there are indications that can point to forged reviews. With a view to your competition, there are relatively simple hints whether someone has helped with their own reviews. For example, masses of excellent reviews in a short period of time are often an indication that someone has cheated here and a competitor is drawing a pretty picture.

However, when it comes to your own reviews, it gets a bit more difficult, unless an unfounded shitstorm indicates that someone has some dark figures after you. And yes, unfortunately there are providers for that too.

To ensure authentic reviews, you can, for example, using an appropriate system, allow only reviews from people who are really customers of yours / were. This is often visualized with appropriate badges, with something like "Verified purchase" or similar.

Tools that help companies collect customer reviews

As platforms for customer reviews, you can start your research with tools like REVIEWS.io, or ProvenExpert. Also use the search in the OMR reviews to view the feedback from other users to find the right solution for you!

The same of course applies for the mentioned CRM or CDP systems. An overview can be found in the CRM category of OMR Reviews. There it can be a good start to look at solutions from Salesforce CRM

, HubSpot CRM , Emarsys, or Klaviyo, among others.

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Conclusion

You see: Asking customers for reviews is a broad field where there are many things to consider and you are rather embarking on a journey that you should constantly adjust.

If you want to remember only one statement for the moment with all the complexity, then preferably this one: At every step, simply think about how YOU would feel in the situation as a customer or how you would behave.

Whether you're getting started in a rough and ready way or first building a sophisticated CRM solution is up to you, so just one very personal recommendation: First of all, look at what your goals are and how you can best achieve them. Set milestones with measurable outcomes and a timeframe so you can work towards them in a focused way. And then just get started without completely dissecting everything. When it comes to customer reviews, it's about authenticity, so you too can make mistakes on your way to the perfect strategy.

Simon Bühl
Author
Simon Bühl

Simon Bühl hat sich mit der BrandUp Factory GmbH auf Bestandskunden Marketing für E-Commerce spezialisiert. Mit smarten Lösungen u. a. im CRM- und Mailmarketing unterstützen sein Team und er zahlreiche Marken (B2B, B2C und D2C) dabei, Datenschätze zu heben und Kunden zu echten Fans mit hohem CLV zu transformieren. 

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