Why Won’t Happy Customers Write A Review?

Irene Abdou, a photographer, asked this question on a recent post about how willing folks are to leave a review. And it is a question that more than a few small business folks ask: “I’ve never understood WHY people who are happy, though, still won’t write a review. That would be a great research topic…”

happy customer

7 Reasons Happy Customers Don’t Leave A Review

Having looked at a lot of businesses I have seven main reasons:

1- Some industries are not very reviewable. Who wants to publicly proclaim that they just got dentures or a teeth cleaning? These industries fall on a continuum from the dentist, who few would want to review to restaurant where everyone is more than willing to express their opinion. And there are a number of businesses in between. Many of which, like Pest Control for example, are almost as hard to get reviews for as dentists.

2- The business just didn’t stand out. Maybe the customer was happy enough to come back but not so happy that they are willing to risk their reputation on your behalf. In this day and age, exceeding, not just meeting, customer expectations is crucial to a successful review campaign.

3- Similar to the above is the business that just doesn’t have any or very many reviews. Few people want to step out from the herd, express their opinion and later be proven wrong. It is harder at first but gets easier for the business as you move along the continuum of review gathering.

4- Often there is a weak social link between the business and the customer. Just an email might not be enough to induce the customer into creating a review. There really needs to be a personal ask as well. Folks do things for many reasons but social obligation is one of the most important motivators.

5- It varies a lot by age group. It also varies by economic class, urbanicity, region and other issues. It could be that any given business’s core demographic or age group is not predisposed to leaving a review.

6- People are busy. Sometimes they just feel that they don’t have the time.

7- Finally, it could be that the customer did leave a review but the review site, (i.e Yelp), didn’t like the fact that they were an infrequent reviewer and decided not to show it.

4 Answers To Getting Reviews

From where I sit, the answer is straight forward, if not easy.

1- Run a great business that exceeds the expectations of the client. The shock and awe of exceeding their expectations goes a great length in helping get more reviews.

2- Ask every customer with a personal ask and follow up with an email or a SMS to create a social bond.

3- Be persistent. Sometimes you need to ask more than once.

4- Keep asking and don’t fret over one or two or three that didn’t leave a review. Their reasons are, as noted, many and you just need to keep on moving on and asking.

About The Author

Mike Blumenthal is a co-founder of GatherUp and helps oversee our research, industry insight and agency offering. Mike has long been regarded as the foremost expert on local search and Google Maps, earning the nickname “Professor Maps”. Mike also co-founded Local University, which provides small business and agency training in sustainable local search marketing. His motto: All Local All the Time.  He writes at his blog and does a twice a week LocalU podcast about Local marketing. 

One Reply to “Why Won’t Happy Customers Write A Review?”

  1. Thank you so much for writing an entire blog post in answer to my question! You’ve wowed me. I didn’t expect that AT ALL.

    The following line in your post stood out to me: “Maybe the customer was happy enough to come back but not so happy that they are willing to risk their reputation on your behalf…” That gave me food for thought. It had not occurred to me that someone might be happy enough to come back but not happy enough. I’ve always assumed that if someone comes back, you must be 5 stars in their mind. Though now that I think about it, I would certainly go back to a restaurant I give 4 stars to. Perhaps it depends on how much you spend at a business though. I’d go back to a 4-star restaurant because it doesn’t cost that much, and I go to restaurants fairly frequently. If I was going to invest a substantial amount, though, I think I would stick with 5-stars.

    You also mentioned lack of time. On a few occasions, I’ve had a client leave a review months after I asked for it (with follow-up). I’m always surprised when it happens, because when it takes so long, I usually imagine the person didn’t truly want to write a review, even though they had agreed to do it.

    And finally, I’d hazard another reason. I get the impression that some people simply aren’t comfortable writing. Maybe they don’t know what to say. Maybe they don’t think they’re good writers. And as a result they do nothing. Years ago, when I would ask for reviews, I would actually give people ideas of questions to answer in their review, or I would ask them to write about certain aspects of the work we did for them. For some reason – I don’t know why – I stopped doing that. Maybe it’s time to go back to that.

    Thanks again for thinking about my question!

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