Everything you need to know about Customer Reviews: an ultimate guide + free response template


Table of Contents

We’re going to cover everything you need to know about customer reviews so that your small business succeeds in this ever-changing, digital shopping world. If you stick to the very end, you’ll get to download an entire document of templates for responding to reviews of all types (just scroll to the very end!).

What are customer reviews?

Customer reviews are messages written by past customers evaluating the products and services they’ve purchased for others to read. This gives their opinions and impressions a voice by which others can choose to purchase or not, depending on the positive or negative nature of the review.

Reviews used to just be a nice bonus to simply confirm one’s choice; but now, reviews have the ability to greatly impact a business depending on the ratings given, comments left and even the responses to those reviews. So, let’s uncover what makes these comments so important.

Why are reviews important?

Reviews have great power. They influence people’s decisions. It doesn’t matter that the reader doesn’t know the writer; they still trust them just as much as if it were a personal recommendation. The writer’s opinion dominates any other words written in advertising copy by the business. Reviews either reinforce a company’s claims and bolsters their reputation or the review completely dismantles and harms public opinion.

All that being true, a business owner must manage all the locations people are leaving reviews (like social media accounts and Google My Business). To not be aware of what’s being said hinders your ability to build relationships with your audience. And, even going a step further, every business ought to not only be aware, but should also be responding to every review. 

Here are a few intriguing things to note about customer reviews:

  • Reviews are essential to provide ‘social proof’
  • Reviews make your business more visible
  • Reviews make you appear more trustworthy to new potential customers
  • Reviews encourage a conversation
  • Reviews are crucial to decision-making

Interactions with your customers (both loyal and disgruntled) deepens the trust and credibility of all those reading the reviews months down the  line. If you want to get valuable dos and don’ts of responding, check out this blog post!

What percentage of customers write reviews?

Knowing that 90% of consumers read about 10 reviews before deciding to trust a business, it’s a bit shocking to learn that only 10% of customers actually leave reviews regularly. And the overwhelming desire for a person to leave a review is heightened by a negative experience.

With all those numbers, it is vital for business owners to reach out to their regulars and ask them to leave a review. It may feel awkward, but, when asked, most people are more than willing to help out a business they truly enjoy (as long as the process is simple). If you want to learn more about asking your customers for reviews, check out this blog post for more tips!

How do I encourage customers to leave reviews? 

Due to such an influx of online shopping and extensive research done prior to even in-person shopping, business owners are dealing with very informed consumers. Before someone even steps into their store or calls on the phone, they very likely already understand exactly what they want and have lots of social proof backing up their decision. 

But how do you get your happy clients to leave their feedback?

First, you need to remember that 93% of your customers already know the power of reviews because they find them helpful for themselves.

Second, remember that 76% of people are more than willing to leave a review if they’re asked.

If it’s just that simple — to ask — why aren’t more businesses getting positive reviews from all their happy customers? There is typically one main reason:

The happy customer didn’t get around to leaving the review.

The question becomes, why?

Once you’ve asked them to leave a review and they energetically said, “Sure!” what happened after that? They walked out of your store, threw their receipt in the trash, and put your product on your shelf. Out of sight, out of mind.

Instead of heading into that trap of automatic response, you have a few ways to ensure higher probability of getting them to actually follow through:

  • Send them home with a nicely designed feedback card to drop in a box on the way out of the store.
  • Email them a thank-you with a direct link to your GMB reviews.
  • Set up a convenient feedback page on your website.

Each of those methods can be adapted to any industry and every type of positive interaction. If you want to encourage immediate feedback, consider using a QR code for them to scan on their phone before they walk out your door. For more tips on the best ways to collect customer reviews, check out this blog post!

How do I manage customer reviews?

First things first, when you started your business one of the first things you probably did was register your business with several online directories, like Yelp and Google (among many others).

If you haven’t done that, yet… What are you doing? Stop here and go do that right now. Check out this list of top directories and work your way through them. This is tedious and time-consuming, but you’ll be so glad you did it (and if you really don’t want to spend the time, talk to me… I’ll set them up for you).

Okay, if you’re still here, you’re ready to move along to the next step in managing your reviews. Here are a few things to get you started:

  • Set up the notifications on each of those directories so you’re informed when someone leaves a review.
  • Pick one person in your business (it may be you!) to monitor and respond to all the reviews.
  • Be sure to answer all the positive reviews by thanking them.
  • Do necessary damage control with all the negative reviews and turn them into a positive for your reputation.

For more helpful insight on how to respond to reviews of all types, check out this blog post

What are some ways to use customer reviews?

Some of the best in the marketing business have really creative ways to use reviews so they are prominently displayed. Let’s look at some ways for you to optimize and make the most out of your customer reviews!

  1. Publish your top reviews in other prominent places.

Everywhere from your website home page to creating a special case study featuring your most-beloved customers, reviews are the best way to gain credibility from new people stumbling onto your site.

  1. Promote the good, while consuming the bad.

What I mean by this is while you’re publishing the best reviews (as mentioned above), you should be taking the negative ones and learning what you can, whether it’s improving customer service to finding ways to upgrade your products.

  1. Pilfer all the best ideas for future developments.

Your reviews will often have the most creative ideas. Don’t feel guilty about taking those and running with them!

  1. Listen to the verbiage. 

Sometimes the worst thing about a brand is that they are out of touch with their customers. They can’t reach them because they can’t identify. By listening to your customer reviews and taking note of how they express their thoughts, you can mirror that phrasing in your marketing copy and generate more interest since you’re speaking their language.

If you’re interested in learning more about using your customers for your marketing strategy, please let me know and I’ll create another resource for you.

Best review sites

Just in case you want a quick rundown of the top ten directories (for any business) you should definitely be registered, here they are:

  1. Google My Business
  2. Facebook (create a business page)
  3. Yelp
  4. Bing Places for Business
  5. Better Business Bureau (BBB)
  6. Yellow Pages
  7. Manta
  8. Foursquare
  9. PlanetRate
  10. SiteJabber

Again, there are many directories and some geared specifically to certain industries. So, check out the links I’ve provided to search out the top ones for you.


By now, there’s no doubt about the importance of collecting and managing your customer reviews. It really takes the persistence of scheduling in the necessary time each week to respond appropriately. To help with that, I’ve created a template of review responses for ease.

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(where I got my nuggets of wisdom)








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