From Feedback to Fame: The Ultimate Guide to Harnessing Customer Reviews for Small Business Success

Let’s face it: the Internet has drastically changed the way that we shop for everything from sneakers to carry out.

In fact, most people now start their searches online. And oftentimes, this includes scouring through reviews that others have publicly posted.

No billboard, online ad, or marketing strategy has as much credibility as the word-of-mouth of someone who has purchased a product or service.

For brands, customers posting positive reviews are real-life celebrities and influencers with the power to make – or break – their businesses.Β  They offer authentic insight that no marketing campaign could even come close to.

At the end of the day, however, asking customers to spread the word is one thing… leveraging them is a different ball game altogether.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to successfully cull reviews and use them to improve your brand presence, as well as what to do when the unthinkable happens and someone leaves you a less-than-stellar review.

How to Collect More Customer Reviews

Jay Baer notes, β€œItβ€˜s good business to ask your customers to provide reviews, as long as it isnβ€˜t too aggressive or a quid-pro-quo.”

That means finding ways to encourage people to post reviews voluntarily.

Here are a few strategic ways to start culling more reviews for your business:

  • Provide outstanding customer service, as well as a superb product or service.Β  This in and of itself gives people a good reason to post a positive review.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask people for their feedback.Β  If you provide them with a forum where they feel valued and that their voices will be heard, you will be amazed at how helpful many people will be.
  • Offer incentives on future purchases. Try things like a chance to win a prize or exclusive access to a can’t miss offer. Just keep in mind that whatever you do should motivate customers without going against the review platform’s guidelines.
  • Make it easy for people to leave feedback. Streamline the testimonial-sharing process with a user-friendly feedback form on your website. You might also consider sending a follow-up email with a link to a review platform. Think of a way that enables customers to share their thoughts effortlessly.
  • Encourage people to leave reviews in multiple places. Think beyond Google reviews because people also check places like Yelp, Facebook, and Instagram too. Educate people about the options and provide them with routes to reach them (through emails and platform links).Β 
    • OF NOTE: Keep in mind that review sites aren’t designed to be one-size-fits all.Β  For example, sites like Yelp won’t be very helpful for an e-commerce seller. It’s important to identify which platforms make sense for your unique business.

How to Use Your Newfound Reviews to Maximize Your Digital Footprint Online


Collecting customer reviews is only one step in the reputation management process, however. The real results come when potential new customers actually see these reviews.

Here are some of the most popular ways to ensure that your business’s reviews are visible at the right place and the right time:

  • Display customer reviews prominently on your website. Try banners, pop ups, sliders and widgets. You may even want to consider creating a dedicated section to showcase them.
  • Create social media posts and videos that feature glowing reviews and post them frequently to maximize your reach across platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
  • Create paid targeted social media ads from your reviews, and then showcase them to people who are already interested in what your business has to offer.Β 
  • If you publish newsletters or push out email promos, also consider featuring a testimonial or 2 there as well.Β 

How to Deal with Negative Reviews


Unfortunately you can’t please everyone, and you are likely going to get some bad reviews here and there.

First and foremost, when this happens, do NOT panic!

Businesses that have all 5-star reviews aren’t seen as genuine or authentic, since it’s impossible to be everything to everyone all the time.

Instead of getting upset and stressed out, welcome the criticism. Oftentimes, these types of situations can serve as learning opportunities for how to improve some specific aspect of your business.

When a not-so-stellar review comes in, it’s imperative to do the following as quickly as possible:

  • Step 1: take the time to respond to negative feedback by trying to see the issue from the customer’s perspective. This is truly a situation where cool heads prevail.Β  Resist the urge to respond with something that could escalate things and make them exponentially worse.
  • Step 2: ask for a second chance and go the extra mile to address the issue that led to a poor review the first time around.

Here are a few examples of how to respond to negative reviews that will hopefully get the creative juices flowing:

  1. β€œWe’re sorry that our product fell short of your expectations. We would be happy to either replace it or give you a refund. Please contact us directly and let us know what works the best for you.”
  2. β€œWe regret the inconvenience. Our team will do everything to address the issue. In the interim, please contact us directly to discuss how we can try to make things right.”
  3. β€œHey there, thanks for the honest feedback. Please accept our apologies and give us another chance to improve your experience. We truly WANT to make things right.”
  4. β€œWe’re sorry to hear about your recent negative experience. Our goal is to deliver the best service possible to each customer we serve. Every. Single. Time. Please contact us directly to discuss how we can try to make it up to you.”

At the end of the day, most people want to feel valued and appreciated.Β  Doing something as simple as calmly responding to a negative review can make a world of difference.Β 

Leveraging the Potential of Customer Reviews

Customer reviews – both good and bad – are valuable for your business. The good ones will help you earn customer trust, and the bad ones will (hopefully) inspire you and your team to do better.

The best part is that they cost nothing, yet their dividends can be huge. In fact, most of your loyal customers will spread the word for free.

So, the next time you have a happy customer singing your praises, ask them if they would be willing to write a review about their experience.Β  And if there’s a little hesitation, try to “sweeten the pot” a little by offering some sort of incentive.Β 

You’ll be amazed at the end result.

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