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Why Would a Customer Give You a Google Review?

December 1, 2020 | Google Reviews

You’re a small business owner or manager and you need Google Reviews, testimonials and maybe even videos you can post to your social media feeds.

But, why would a customer give you a Google Review or video testimonial? What’s in it for them?

This blogpost will examine peoples’ intrinsic motivations to help out a business, business owner or manager – WITHOUT resorting to any monetary incentive or reward.

(BTW, evidence from HBR shows that Google and Glassdoor reviews are more accurate when they are paid, not free)

Besides the fact that we have millions of Google Reviews already online – presumably most of these are unpaid – what other reasons do people have give your business a positive review?

Here are 4 strategies business owners can follow to gather positive Google Reviews and video testimonials for your social media.

Table of Contents

We’ll look at the following:

  • Your Process to gather a Google Review or Video Testimonial
  • Your Proximity to the customer
  • Cooperation from the customer
  • Your Personality on social media

Each of these strategies involves a few elements – let’s examine these elements below.

Process to Gather a Google Review

Each business has its own unique workflow.  In small, local businesses  Google, Yelp and Glassdoor recommend the following sequence of customer steps:

  1. Customer enters the front door.
  2. Customer engages with the product or service somewhere in the store.
  3. Customer completes a transaction at the point-of-sale.
  4. Customer leaves the store.
  5. Customer goes home or back to work to complete the Google Review.

These last 2 steps are key. Firms like Google, Yelp and Glassdoor would prefer to keep the last 2 steps in this order because, in their opinion, having the customer complete the review at home reduces bias?

But, does it? According to this report on review bias online by the Harvard Business Review (HBR) reviews are often…

“…highly polarized, with many extreme positive and/or negative reviews, and few moderate opinions.’ HBR

The HBR authors reason that reviewers are most likely the few people who either totally LOVE the business, service or product or they absolutely HATE it.

That’s why they leave the review.

Fortunately (or, perhaps not?), extreme reviewers are the minority.  Most of us are simply satisfied.

Or, maybe we are slightly dis-satisfied.  But, not dissatisfied enough to take the time to write a blistering online review on Google, Glassdoor or Yelp.

This leaves what the HBR authors call a ‘U-shaped curve’ where most of the reviews fall at either end of the scale.  Plus, these reviews are the most extreme opinions.  They are the outliers. By definition, their scores deviate the most from the average.  Just a few reviews at either end can shift the average quite a bit.

The problem is, for consumers, reviews are where many of us START our shopping experience.  We rely on accurate reviews to guide our online shopping.

How to Get More Accurate Online Reviews?

The Harvard Business Review authors advise 2 tactics to get more accurate online reviews:

  1. Offer a pro-social rationale to your customer WHY they should leave a review or testimonial.
  2. Offer a monetary reward.

What is a ‘pro-social rationale’ ?  Simply, tell your customer WHY their review is important to OTHER PEOPLE LIKE THEM:

“Our results show that people are more likely to leave online reviews when they’re reminded that doing so helps other people.

Simple, pro-social incentives also led the distribution of reviews to be less biased, creating a more normal bell-curve distribution of reviews.”


So, the process to gather online reviews matters.  A lot. How about the monetary incentive mentioned by the HBR authors?

We then tested several types of incentives — both monetary incentives, and “pro-social” incentives, in this case reminders that leaving a review would help other job seekers — to see how online company reviews changed with each.

For the experiment, we used Amazon’s Mechanical Turk marketplace; all participants were paid $0.20 each to review their employer, and some were paid more, to test the effects of extra monetary incentives.

Our results show that people are more likely to leave online reviews when they’re reminded that doing so helps other job seekers.

Simple pro-social incentives also led the distribution of reviews to be less biased, creating a more normal bell-curve distribution of reviews.

As you can see, the monetary incentive was not much money – only $0.20.

But, offering any incentive, technically, violates the Google Terms of Service governing your Google My Business page where your Google Reviews are located.

I can’t advise you to do that; but, if you decide to try to balance out the extreme reviewers and gather more moderate, middle-of-the-road reviews then here are the steps we recommend at WOW Promoter.

  1. Customer enters the front door.
  2. Customer engages with the product or service somewhere in the store.
  3. Customer completes a transaction at the point-of-sale.
  4. Customer completes a video review at the testimonial kiosk located at the point-of-sale. At this time, offer ‘pro-social motivations’ explaining WHY their review can help other people.
  5. Customer leaves the store and goes home or back to work.

Notice that the last 2 steps of the process are switched.

If you decide to offer ‘pro-social motivations’ at the 2nd to last step, maybe you also offer a small candy, a cup of coffee or a sticker with your logo on it?

Your choice; but, it makes a difference.

Process Infographic to gather a video testimonial
Process Infographic to gather a video testimonial

How Does a Testimonial Kiosk Help Online Reviews Become Less Biased?

According to the Harvard Business Review authors…

“Both in controlled experiments and in a real-world business setting our research shows that providing monetary and pro-social incentives can lead to more balanced and representative online reviews.”

I would never have guessed this but the $0.20 incentive caused enough people to leave a review that smoothed out the ‘U-shaped curve’ and led to a normal, bell-shaped distribution of reviews.

Guide your Customer but give them Choice

The Google Terms of Service (TOS) prohibit ‘review gating’ where a service provider. like a doctor, tries to influence a Google Review – usually in the positive direction.

The doctor, according to the TOS, should not attempt to selectively cause positive reviews;  such as by having the patient fill out the review while sitting in the waiting room with the help of the nurse.

For more detail on regulations affecting your ability to post online content, including video testimonials of your customers, read our blogpost.

Proximity to the Customer

A second strategy to facilitate a positive online review is to leverage your Most Valuable Partners (our term) to give the review immediately at the point-of-sale.

Note:  Other terms for MVP customers might be Promoters in the NPS system or customers who experience ‘surprise and delight’, according to Jay Baer in his book, Talk Triggers.

MVP customers are those people who absolutely LOVE you, are already telling their friends and neighbors about your business and actively promote your business.

We discuss the effect of proximity in social media and how Mirror Neurons play a role in how much your customers trust you.

How to you identify your Most Valuable Partner customers?

Identify your BEST customers in two ways:

  • Intuitively
  • Process-driven using online surveys

As a small business owner working with your customers every day you know who LOVES you and who doesn’t.  You know this intuitively because to work IN the business.

You know what your customer says,  how many times they come back to visit your business and by the friends and family they refer.

Unfortunately, your knowledge doesn’t scale.

As soon as you take a day off, you miss out on those customers who come in on your day off.

You need a process to gather data on each customer and ask HOW MUCH they like/love your business.

This process is simple – many commercial applications exist – it’s called the Net Promoter Score (NPS).

We discuss the NPS, how to score, what the score means and how you should respond to good scores – and to poor scores.

The NPS score is emailed to the customer as the question:

“On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely is it that you would recommend our organization to a friend or colleague?”

Answers are given from 1 to 10; 1 is ‘extremely unlikely’ and 10 is ‘extremely likely’. The NPS is a 1 to 10 scale with scores broke down as follows:

  • 1 through 5 are labelled ‘Detractors’
  • 6 through 8 are ‘Neutral’
  • 9 to 10 are ‘Promoters’

We want to identify the Promoters and ask them for Google Reviews and Video Testimonials. You can use any number of commercial vendors to gather your NPS scores by email or kiosk and the cost is fairly modest. We’re not aware of any free NPS vendors.

Cooperation from the Customer

So, why would a Promoter give you a Google Review? Why would they want to get on video with you as demonstrated by Dr. Pimple Popper who routinely interviews her patients on video?

Cooperation is in our genes

Why would a customer – even a Promoter who just gave you a 9 or 10 on the Net Promoter Score survey – cooperate with you?

Why take that next step to give a Google Review or, even more, a video testimonial like Kodak Black gives Dr. Miami?

Two expert sources support the statement that we are genetically programmed to cooperate:

“Humans became a cooperative species because our distinctive livelihoods made cooperation within a group highly beneficial to its members and, exceptional among animal species, we developed the cognitive, linguistic and other capacities to structure our social interactions in ways that allowed altruistic cooperators to proliferate.”  

A Cooperative Species:  Human Reciprocity & its Evolution, p.196 Bowles & Gintis

The second source is Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of Influence:  The Psychology of Persuasion, the 1984 book that brought us the term ‘social proof’.

This book has become a bible among internet marketers, perhaps because of the vivid descriptions and easy prose Dr. Cialdini uses to describe his ‘weapons of influence’.

One of those ‘weapons’ is the Consistency Rule; the idea that we, as social beings, are compelled to remain true to our initial decisions.

“It is, quite simply, our nearly obsessive desire to be (and to appear) consistent with what we have already done.” Dr. Robert Cialdini, Influence, p. 57

In other words, since we are asking your CURRENT CUSTOMER for a Google Review or a video testimonial, they will tend to say ‘Yes’ because to do otherwise would be INCONSISTENT with their previous decision to become your customer.

The Consistency Rule is borne out by repeated social science experiments and one key to the Rule is your customer should have made a public acknowledgement of their desire to support you  or your business.

This can be as simple as their spoken statement, which we can a ‘trigger’.

We discuss triggers and how to ask for the review or testimonial once you hear the trigger in our How to Ask for a Testimonial blogpost.

Your Personality on Social Media

“All the world’s indeed a stage and we are merely players…

Performers and portrayers…

Each another’s audience outside the gilded cage.

Living in the limelight, the universal dream

For those who wish to see…

Those who wish to be…”

Limelight By Geddy Lee, Rush, 1981

Social media is a stage and some of the biggest and best performers show their outsized personality on video – think Gary Vaynerchuk, Grant Cardone or Mr. Beast on YouTube.

Is it an act?  Maybe.

Does it matter if it’s an act?  Not if the act is done well.

Much of social media is a combination of education and entertainment – infotainment.

But, you don’t NEED an outsized personality to shine on social media.  Most experts agree that AUTHENTICITY and VALUE beat an overly-hyped or promotional stage presence on social media.

Take a look as Dr. Pimple Popper interviews her patient in this heart-touching video.  She shows he 3 best personality qualities:

  • Vulnerability
  • Compassion
  • Humility

– no hype, no outsized ego or personality, just her authentic self.

How Can You Develop Your Online Personality?

Again, you be you – don’t try to be Dr. Pimple Popper. Audiences will respond to your unique charms and mannerisms.

Maybe you have an accent, maybe you speak with odd or funny mannerisms – people LIKE that!

It makes you unique, different and INTERESTING! Lean into your special idiosyncracies as you develop your online personality – the best testimonial videos have YOU in the video along with your customer.

See the videos above with Dr. Miami and Dr. Pimple Popper.

What are Your Best Personality Characteristics for Online Video?

Only you or your close family and friends can answer this question.  To give you some insight, we have developed this Personality Characteristic Checklist we’ve used to explore any special ‘gifts’ you might have that will lend themselves to online video production.


Why should anybody give you or your business a Google Review?  Why should they give you a video testimonial? Here’s what we’ve discussed in this blogpost:

  • The Process to gather a Google Review or Video Testimonial is unique to your business.
  • Your Proximity to the customer is a HUGE advantage.  Local businesses can get face-to-face with the customer so USE this in your online video.
  • Cooperation from the customer can also work for you.  Many people are simply waiting to be asked to give you a review.
  • Your Personality on social media is key.  You’re probably ALREADY on stage everyday if you’re a small businessman or woman.  The internet is simply a bigger stage.  But, video is like a microscope so don’t overdo it.