Checking online reviews has become a regular part of most shoppers’ decision-making process. That includes dog lovers, whether searching for the right dog treats or choosing the best dog trainer, walker, pet sitter, or other dog pro for their best friend. Good online reviews can boost new client inquiries significantly—enough so that it’s worth taking an active approach to collecting them.
If you’re like most dog pros we know and work with, though, fishing for compliments is not a comfortable activity. So here are some tips, and some language, to make asking your clients to say nice things about you online a little easier.
1. Seize the moment
Asking for a nice review out of the blue can feel pretty awkward. Instead, use the moments your clients provide. If you’re doing your job well, you’re probably the recipient of some pretty nice comments from your clients, in person or over the phone, and via email and text. There’s no better time to ask for a review. Thank them, take a deep breath, and just ask. You know they’re happy with you, so the risk of being told no is minimal. All you need is a smooth way to make your request. Try something like this:
“Thank you so much! That means so much to me to hear. We really strive to [whatever the client complimented you on—make our clients’ lives easier by always being there/create real training results that make a difference in everyday life, etc.], so it always feels great to know we’re hitting the mark. I appreciate you telling me that! [If you’re talking to the client, rather than texting or emailing, pause for breath. Your client may have more to say more here, too, like, “You’re super welcome. I really mean it.” Then continue:] I wonder if I might ask you a favor? We’re working to build up our online reviews so we can help as many dogs and their people as possible. If you review online and feel like it’s appropriate, I’d be so grateful if you’d be up for sharing your experience with us on any platforms you use. No worries at all if you don’t do online reviews, but if you do, that would be great.”
Who could say no to that?
2. Survey your clients
In addition to providing invaluable information about how you’re doing, and anywhere you can improve, putting out a short survey helps reveal exactly which clients to target with a review request.
Keep your survey short and easy to use. Use a simple rating system (1-5 scale, for example), and focus your questions on your clients’ experience of your service. For example, depending on your services, you might ask clients to rate your reliability, professionalism, support, their enjoyment of the training process, positive changes they’ve seen in their dog, improvements in the ease of living with their dog, etc.
Also include space for clients to share open-ended comments, but in the spirit of building a quick-and-easy survey, leave this part optional for your survey-takers.
3. Ask happy clients for reviews
Look through your survey results to identify your happiest clients, and reach out to them to ask for reviews. Send a personal email along lines like these:
Dear/Hello, [Client Name]—
First, thank you for taking what I know is precious time to fill out our survey. We really appreciate it.
Second, wow. Thank you so much for your positive input and kind words! It means a great deal to know that we’re hitting the marks we work so hard toward. It’s such a pleasure to work with you and Fido, and to [make your days easier by getting Fido out for a good romp/ helping Fido learn that other dogs really aren’t so scary and worth barking at/ etc.]!
I wonder if I might be so bold as to ask one more favor? We’re working to build up our online reviews so we can help other wonderful people and dogs like you and Fido. If you do online reviews and feel it’s appropriate, I’d be so grateful if you could share your experience with us. If so, here are links to the platforms we’re currently on:
Again, thank you! [Insert something related to your service and the client, like: “It was such a pleasure training with you and Fido!” or “I’m so lucky to spend time with Fido every day. It means the world to be trusted with his care!”]
4. Don’t forget the R+
Reinforced behavior increases, so when you ask clients to engage with you, be sure to reinforce liberally when they do. Thank all your clients for taking your survey, regardless of their answers. And, of course, thank clients when they post online reviews. Sending a simple email is easiest, but consider going bigger if you can. Hand-written cards mean a lot these days, and a small gift (a gift card to the local pet supply store, for example, a bag of high-end dog treats, a hand-picked dog toy, etc.) can make a big impression.
Bonus Tip: Use what you learn
You’ll likely get lots of great positive reinforcement from your survey. Be sure to bask in the glow of that. If you also get some constructive input, don’t let it get you down. Do set aside some time to reflect on and use it to make your services even better. In the long run, used well, it’s the criticism, more than the positive input, that will help your business grow.
That said, some glowing online reviews certainly don’t hurt! So schedule some time to put together your client survey, and start practicing your review request pitch for the next time a client tells you just how awesome you are.