Giving your customers the option to read and submit their own product reviews is one of the smartest sales tools you can use. Research suggests that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation (according to a survey by BrightLocal). Not offering reviews or ignoring them risks alienating nearly 90% of online shoppers. But many businesses don’t know how to get customers to leave business reviews. Most people don’t leave reviews unless they are prompted in some way. This article explains some ways to ask and make it easy for your business to get reviews.

First step, verify your business listings.

On Google, business reviews appear next to your listing in Maps and Search. Businesses with higher ratings appear higher up in search results. The first step in how to get customers to leave business reviews is to verify your business so that it is eligible to appear on Google Maps, Search and other Google services. We recently posted about how to claim your business pages. Once you’ve done that, reach out to your customers and ask for reviews.

Create a process for asking for reviews.

Once your service is completed or the product is received, send a follow-up email inviting the customer to leave a review. Include a link and instructions on what to do clearly laid out. Explain clearly that you want an honest review. Whether the review is positive or not, respond appropriately so the customer knows you read it and you care. If you’re worried about a negative review, then load up on the positive reviews!

After completing a project or making a sale, send a simple wrap-up email with a thank you message and a direct link to the form for them to leave a review.

Make it easy and automatic.

There are online tools for creating a direct link to Google Reviews. Alternatively, create a direct link. Search for your business name and click on the Google Reviews link that appears. Put the long search query that appears into a URL shortener. This gives you a usable link to take people directly to a review page. Yelp offers downloadable “Find us on Yelp” banners that you can use on your website or print out for your store. Place a Reviews tab on your Facebook page by setting your page as a Local Business and following next steps for creating a Reviews tab.