One of the most important tools for any small business is customer reviews. With the explosion of websites like Yelp and Citysearch, it is easier than ever for people to share their opinions about your business. But even with so many easy ways to leave feedback, unless they have a negative experience to share, the average customer isn’t going to look for ways to leave your company a review. So how do you get them to take the time to do it? Follow these quick easy steps!

1. Set Up Profiles on Multiple Review Sites. It’s a lot harder for customers to leave reviews if they can’t find a place to do so! Consider all the sites that are relevant to your business: Yelp, Angie’s List, Google Local, Yahoo Local, LinkedIn, or CitySearch.


2. Don’t offer incentives for a positive review. This almost always backfires. It can turn off customers, including people who would have left a review on their own without a prize. Yelp also has a strict policy against having fake or solicited reviews and their filters will remove posts that try to game their system. You’ll end up with no reviews and some angry customers who may think you deleted their comment.


3. Make it easy for customers. Send people links to where they can leave reviews. You can include links casually in your signature block at the bottom of emails and on things like equipment in your office. Linking to review sites on your own website and Facebook page can help too. Yelp offers downloadable “Find us on Yelp” banners that you can use on your website or print out for your store.


4. Reminder emails account for a huge percentage of review conversions. If you’re going to remind people to leave reviews, do it quickly so they don’t forget or lose interest. The longer you go from the time of service to the time of request, the lower the likelihood of getting reviews.


5. Monitor review sites for comments and respond to them. Thank customers for positive feedback and stay levelheaded about negative reviews. Use them as a learning opportunity to figure out ways to improve your business. If appropriate, offer to do something to make the situation right for the customer. Sometimes seeing how businesses handle things when customers are unsatisfied is even more persuasive to potential customers than positive reviews.