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Offering incentives and making sure the process is easily accessible are two ways businesses can encourage their customers to leave positive reviews. — Getty Images/andresr

As e-commerce becomes more popular, online review sites are increasingly important for customers. One survey shows 95% of customers read online reviews before buying a product or service.

Positive online reviews improve your company’s reputation and can attract new customers to your business. Here are five ways to encourage customers to leave you a review.

[Read more: How to Monitor and Manage Customer Review Sites]

Set up profiles on popular review sites

The first step is to make sure you’re listed on the most popular review sites: Google, Yelp, and Facebook. Google is by far the most important review site, with over 63% of consumers saying they check Google reviews before visiting a business location.

You’ll start by claiming your business on Google Maps to set up your Google Business Profile. The verification process takes seven days, but once it’s complete, you’ll be the only person who can edit your Business Profile.

Though not as popular as Google, Yelp and Facebook reviews also influence a customer’s purchase decisions. So it’s a good idea to set up business profiles on both sites.

Request reviews directly

When customers check online reviews, they’re looking for the quality and quantity of those reviews. As of 2021, 60% of customers said they consider the number of reviews a business has before deciding to purchase its products or services.

So it’s not enough to have just a few positive online reviews — you need dozens of reviews if you want potential customers to see your business as credible. But unfortunately, customers who are displeased are more likely to leave reviews than satisfied customers.

That’s why you must get in the habit of asking every customer to leave your business a review. Explain to them how much positive reviews help your business, and ask them if they’re willing to leave you one.

You can do this by asking customers directly, including links in emails, or including a QR code on receipts that will link directly to your Business Business Profile. Automating this process will create a scalable solution and a consistent stream of new online reviews.

[Read more: Online Reviews: How to Manage & Respond to Customer Feedback]

Customers want to be heard, so it’s essential to respond to all positive and negative feedback.

Make it convenient and easily accessible

Most customers are willing to leave a business a positive review unless the process is too complicated or tedious. So you should make it easy for your customers to find your profiles and leave you a review.

Include direct links through your website, emails, and social media profiles. And once customers begin the review process, don’t ask them to provide too much information. Providing their name, a star rating, and an optional comment is plenty of information and reduces the likelihood that customers will give up midway through the review.

Another way to remove friction from the review process is by providing a template for customers. A template encourages positive feedback while ensuring the customer doesn’t have to put too much effort into leaving the review.

Respond to all reviews

Customers want to be heard, so it’s essential to respond to all positive and negative feedback. Take time to reply to every review by thanking each person for sharing their experience with your business.

Furthermore, you should never ignore or delete a negative review. Always respond in a professional and calm manner without getting defensive. Let the customer know that you’re sorry they had a bad experience, and encourage them to take the conversation to a private channel so you can resolve it “offline.”

[Read more: How to Handle Negative Customer Reviews]

Share positive reviews

You should highlight any positive customer reviews on your website and in marketing emails to your customers. Sharing positive reviews creates social proof for your business and could incentivize other customers to leave a review for your business.

Social media is another great place to share positive customer reviews about your business.

Ask your followers what they love about a specific product or how they enjoyed your services. That way, anyone who visits your pages can read through feedback from real customers.

This story was originally written by Sammi Caramela.

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