Beyond the Stars: How to Get Effective Reviews from Customers

Beyond the Stars: How to Get Effective Reviews from Customers

You’ve heard it said that consumers are the new marketing channel. When they talk, others listen. You should listen, too, so you know how to get effective reviews from customers.

Here’s what we mean.

There are 5-star reviews and there are effective reviews. Unfortunately, getting the former doesn’t guarantee the latter.

” ‘Good’ is not always positive. Remember, a ‘good’ review is the type of review that’s useful to the people who come along behind you.” – Alan Henry

Put another way, most businesses see 5-star reviews as the ticket to success, while most customers just want the insights that come along with those stars.

Of course, star ratings do matter. But if there’s no substance to the actual reviews, customers may look elsewhere.

The following example is instructive:

vague online review

Image Source: TrustPilot

If most of your five-star reviews look like this one, don’t expect prospective customers to be overly wowed.

It’s About Quality, Not Just Stars

We’re betting when you research service providers or products online, you pay more attention to detailed reviews and recommendations than the generic star ratings.

In fact, the more detailed the review, the more likely you are to visit a business’s website and enter the conversion funnel.

What Effective Reviews Look Like

You probably already encourage customers to review your business. But how can you nudge them to leave truly effective reviews?

Mad Dog Cycles review, Yelp

Image Source: Yelp Reviews

Before we talk strategy, let’s look closer at the benefits of effective reviews:

  • Effective reviews motivate businesses to continually refine their products and services.
  • An effective review also helps prospective customers make good decisions
  • This kind of authentic feedback restores consumer trust in online reviews as a whole.

Now, take a look at these tips from Trustpilot:

Customer Reviews tips

Image Source: Trustpilot

In a perfect world, every customer would follow these tips. But real-world customers require a little encouragement.

Attributes that Drive Action

No surprises; there are lots of review platforms are out there—with Yelp, Facebook, and Google firmly in the lead. And don’t forget niche reviewing sites like Healthgrades, TripAdvisor, Zillow, SeniorAdvisor, and … well, you get the idea.

If customers are reviewing you, they can do so on virtually any review platform. Why not guide them to the most helpful review options?

First off, a few basic rules:

  1. Determine which niche review sites are most critical to your industry.
  2. Direct customers towards a specific (non-Yelp) review platform where you want to see more reviews.
  3. With help from Banyan, customize your review invitation message to make the process easy.
  4. Carefully follow review policies to ensure your reviews stay secure and visible.
  5. Respond promptly to all incoming reviews.

Banyan reviews, customized review request mockup

Unsurprisingly, it takes consistent, daily effort to get effective reviews. So, get in the habit of asking.

How to Get Effective Reviews, Not Just Stars

What else can you do to get effective reviews?

Bottom line, incredible customer service is the most important key. And when things don’t go well, a prompt response is also critical.

“Although it can be difficult to swallow at times, you want your customers to leave honest reviews of their experience. If you do your part in providing what you promise, (rest) assured that the majority of your reviews (will be) positive.” – Fresh Lime

One more thing. Every positive experience can be turned into an effective review if you remember to ask while customers are with you.

Be Realistic

Of course, no one business has a perfect track record. And that’s okay.

According to Amy Osmond Cook (Forbes contributor), when online reviews average an A-minus, conversion rates tend to be higher.

Studies appear to support Cook’s claim. On average, star ratings between 4.2 and 4.5 hit the sweet spot and help customers convert. Such reviews also look more authentic and build trust.

So you don’t need all five-star reviews to win new customers. But you do need effective reviews and responses:

TripAdvisor review

Image Source: TripAdvisor

Be Respectful

As the above example shows, it pays to be respectful and responsive to every review. Your goodwill and prompt response will go a long way toward protecting your online reputation.

As needed, take conversations offline for customers who appear to be in attack mode.

In short, keep it classy.

How to Get Effective Reviews, SeniorAdvisor review

Image Source: SeniorAdvisor

Specific vs. Generic Information

So, what is it that makes some customers go into detail in their reviews while other reviewers say next to nothing?

Here’s exhibit A, a review from EMI Health:

Patient review for EMI Health

Image Source: Google Reviews

Not only did the reviewer share specific details about her experience, but she also strengthened a B2B relationship.

Even better, EMI responded promptly and respectfully.

Now, for exhibit B, a dermatology review:

Example of patient review, generic comments

Image Source:

While both examples are positive, the first includes more meaningful details about the reviewer’s experience.

Why the differences?

Some of it has to do with customer personality (not something you can change). But time crunches and vague requests can also lead to ineffective reviews.

Ask On Site

You can safely assume that most customers are in a hurry. If so, they’ll probably leave a star rating but not make specific comments.

To counter this tendency, ask customers for a review while they’re still with you. As needed, walk them through the basics and give them time to complete the review.

Here’s another easy idea you can try:


Rephrase Your Request

What do you ask customers before you text or email them the review link?

More often than not, comments like, “We’d love to know how your experience was today. Would you be willing to write a review and share the specifics with us?” are most effective.

The word “specifics” basically plants a seed in your customer’s mind that may blossom into a more detailed review.

You could also lead with, “You are one of our favorite customers. Would you be willing to share a little of your history with us in an online review? We know that would be valuable to other customers.”

The trick is to ask for reviews in a way that motivates customers to get specific.

Post Helpful Reviews

To encourage more insightful reviews, it also helps to post some of the best on your website in the form of testimonials.

This strategy puts effective reviews front and center for your website visitors.

Testimonial page from Marschall Road Animal Hospital

Image Source:

Also, when customers get specific, don’t be short on the praise! Tell them how much their words mean to you and how helpful their comments will be to others.

Customized Review Requests

As mentioned above, it matters how you ask customers to review you.

Generally, a simple “How was your experience?” will prompt a more detailed response than “Can you rate us?”

If you’re a Banyan reviews customer, you can also customize the invitation you text to customers.

Let’s say you’d like more helpful reviews on Google and Healthgrades. After connecting to your Google My Business page and Healthgrades in the Banyan app, you pull up a review template similar to this one:

Customized review invitation message, BirdEye

With a flexible template, you can customize your message to motivate effective reviews.

For example, you can change your default image and adjust your message to something like, “Hi Garrett, we’d love you to share the details of your visit today! Just click this link.”

Likewise, you can enable Facebook Recommendations on your Facebook Page so that customers can use specific tags to describe their experience.

Read more about Facebook Recommendations

Where to Go from Here

The world of online reviews grows every day, fed by the average consumer’s appetite for information:

“Today’s consumers consult an average of 10.4 sources of information before making a purchase. Voracious information seeking has become deeply ingrained … and we can envision no scenario in which they will see traditional marketing as a better provider of product information.” – Harvard Business Review

Well, there you have it. Online reviews are here to stay, and they’re much more than just star ratings.

As you work to provide your customers with a great experience, they’ll want to tell others. The easier you make the process, the more effective those reviews will be.


Need help with your reviews strategy? Check out our Banyan Reviews page.