That 3-star rating got you down in the dumps? You’re not alone. As of mid-2018, Yelp users had generated more than 100 million reviews for every single type of local business, including restaurants, boutiques, salons, dentists, mechanics, plumbers and more. Businesses just like yours. And unfortunately for you, not all of these are rave, 5-star reviews.

Why should you care?

The fact of the matter is, people trust online reviews. 97% of consumers read online reviews before making buying decisions in 2017. Why are online ratings and reviews suddenly so popular? Because the way search engines and social media sites serve up their results, almost every search now includes at least a few online reviews. So consumers conducting local searches are more and more likely to see these reviews mixed in with top results.

If your online reviews are negative, or (worse) nonexistent, you’re unlikely to get chosen by local consumers.

Still not sure?

What if I told you gaining a single star in your average rating could increase your revenue by 5 to 7%?

Now that would be worth your effort.

Here are a few top ways to get online reviews from your customers—reviews that could increase consumer trust and bring you new and repeat business.

1. Have a presence on more sites than one.

Yelp, Facebook and Google are some of the leading online listings sites where reviews reign supreme. To start getting reviews on these sites, you’ll need to claim your business listings, then ensure your information is accurate and consistent.

If you’re in a highly niche business, you may have a more specialized review site you’ll want to focus in on. For example, contractors, plumbers and handymen may be more concerned with a site like Home Advisor than with they would be with OpenTable, a site focused on restaurant reviews.

2. Ask for feedback first.

Nothing beats face-to-face or over-the-phone interactions when it comes to customer service. Back-and-forth emails and long strings of text messages are traps for miscommunication and heightened emotions, because people are faster to say things they would never have dreamed of saying to your face.

Use the facetime you get with customers to ask for honest feedback.

It will do a couple things to boost your reputation:
  1. It gives you the opportunity to uncover any unhappy customers you may not have been aware of. Remember, these people, if unaddressed, turn into lost business and even those annoying negative online reviews you seldom see coming.
  2. It helps customers verbalize their true feelings. This better prepares them to leave you a detailed review online.

When customers are dissatisfied, jump on the opportunity to make things right. And when customers seem pleased with your service, use these opportunities to seal the deal and ask them to leave you an online review.

Nervous they’ll turn you down? Don’t be! 70% of customers will gladly leave you an online review when asked (nicely, of course!) to do so.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to tell them where you want them to leave their reviews online! There are so many listings sites out there, consumers may be tempted to leave a review for you on a site they’re most familiar with, instead of on sites that will be more likely to influence your business’s reputation and search engine optimization (SEO).

3. Request reviews on receipts.

Whether you deliver handwritten, printed or electronic receipts, always include a callout at the bottom thanking them for their business and soliciting an online review. In case you’re busy or missed the opportunity to mention it in person, this is a subtle way to remind them to show you some love.

Here are some friendly (even fun) ways to ask:
  • We live off of referrals! Leave us a review on (your favorite listings site) to help us grow.
  • If you love us, let us know! Rate us on (your favorite listings site) to share the love.
  • Ratings and reviews really help us out. Leave yours on (your favorite listings site).

Pro tip: It may be tempting to add a simple “How’d we do?” However, if you’re really not sure about how well you did, that’s an awfully dangerous question to ask before directing customers to answer it online. If you want to gather feedback this way, direct them to your email first, so you can run interference on any salty, less-than-pleased customers.

4. Place a button on your website.

You may think of your website as a way to get found and get new customers and clients. But the truth is, your current customers also use your website. They use it to learn more about you, double-check things they thought they knew, and most importantly, take action. If they’re visiting multiple times (and hopefully they are), it’s most likely to place a new order, book additional services, or even pay you.

Why not add one more call to action, on a page repeat customers are visiting? In addition to your “Contact Us” or “Book Now” button, incorporate a second button or hyperlinked text. Call it something like “Leave Us a Review!” and direct consumers to your favorite review site.

5. Place the same button on your social media.

Many customers who liked working with you will also visit and follow your social media sites to stay in touch with your business. Like your website, if they’re visiting your social pages, it could be to view content you’ve posted, but it could also be to interact with you again. Add this same “Leave us a Review!” button. Or if you’re out of buttons and don’t want to change them, post content every now and then directing your followers and fans to review your business.

Keep in mind, if customers are already following you on social media, it’s because they’re already fans. So these individuals in particular are highly likely to leave positive reviews.

6. Turn your reviews into conversations.

If your reviews are stale, or consumers can see you’re not responding, they’re less likely to trust your business or leave a review themselves. So it’s critical you engage with your reviews and respond to those both positive and negative as quickly as possible.

Tools like Thryv instantly notify you when a customer’s left a rating or review on any number of your active listings. Then, it lets you respond on the spot, without having to hunt around for it online.

Pro tip: Thryv even shows you your overall ratings across these sites, so you can take proactive steps to improve your customer service and your online reputation. Check it out.