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I remember back in the day when I was running my computer repair business. I often fixed my family and friend’s computers, free of charge. The only thing that I asked of them was to write me a nice customer review to help build my business’ online reputation. But did they write customer reviews? Occasionally–but often they didn’t.

I frequently lamented how frustrating it was to fix somebody’s computer for free without receiving so much as a kind review in return. What was going on? The one that stung the most was my own mother. Despite repeated requests asking her to write me a nice review, she never did. 

It’s not like my mom was not tech-savvy. It wasn’t that she was ungrateful that I helped her with her computer. It was most certainly not because she didn’t love me. So why didn’t she write me a nice review? That’s a very good question, and it brings up an important point: people are busy. The internet is complicated. People are selfish, and nobody cares about your customer reviews more than you. Not even your own mother. The fact that it’s difficult to get even your own mother to write a review perfectly illustrates how challenging it can be to get your customers to write you nice reviews.

I wasn’t one to give up so easily. I learned some techniques that greatly increased the likelihood that somebody I asked would write me a nice review. What I learned was that you must make it as easy as possible and you might even need to bribe people sometimes. Sometimes doing people a favor or going above and beyond with your level of service is just not enough to get customer reviews. At the end of the day, what worked for me and is currently working for some of our customers to gain more reviews and build their online reputation is to employ a power of persuasion called reciprocity.

The Power of Reciprocity

One of the specific techniques that has worked well for us is buying $5 Starbucks gift cards and giving these cards to clients at the same time that you’re asking them for a nice review. We like to say, “thank you so much for your business, if we buy you a coffee would you kindly write us a nice review?” Using this technique, we’ve been able to substantially increase the likelihood that one of our customers would write us a Google or Facebook or Yelp review.

This is because if you give somebody something, they feel obligated to give something back. Hence the power of persuasion technique that is reciprocity. But even this technique alone proved to not be enough. Customers were only writing customer reviews about half the time! So, what we started doing was printing out review cards as well. The review cards simply said “happy with our service? Please write us a nice review”.

The review cards had three choices: they could write us a customer review on Yelp, write us a customer review on Facebook or they could write us a customer review on Google. Whichever one is easiest for people. We began texting people shortened links to make the customer review process that much easier for them. The shortened links that we use allow us to track the number of people who use the links and write us a review. They look something like this:




The true genius of these links is that when they click on them, they are directed right to the review writing process. They literally must do nothing except start writing their review. Texting these review links to their cell phone further increases the chances that they will write a great review.

So, a Starbucks gift card, review cards, and texting the link right to their cell phone all helped contribute to a high success rate for getting customer reviews. The bottom line is that reviews have become perhaps the most important online aspect for nearly any business. They are so important that business owners must do anything and everything to get them.

Robert Portillo, founder of Nimbus Marketing, and his family.

About the author:

Robert Portillo is the founder of Nimbus Marketing. Nothing satisfies him more than expressing his thoughts well. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two sons. He can often be found at local farmer’s markets, hiking trails, and the beach.