5 Ways to Get 5-Star Reviews

Reviews are an important part of any business – and who doesn’t love having customers who turn into raving fans? Next to word of mouth marketing, 5-star reviews are an excellent way to create that trust factor with your clients right from the start. Reviews can be the decision-maker between you and another company, so it’s worth spending some time and energy on earning those glowing references.

So, how do you ‘get’ repeated 5- star reviews AND a 5-star reputation?

Here are 5 success factors for earning raving reviews from your clients.

5 star reviews begin with excellent client experience. This means crystal clear communication from start to finish!  Respond promptly to all emails and calls so your clients know you run an efficient business they can trust. Clear communication also includes preparing your clients for the perfect shoot. Make sure they understand your process right down to the nitty gritty: where to park, what to wear, how long you’ll spend together, even the shots you’re planning to get! Anything you can do to anticipate their needs and answer their burning questions will help calm their nerves. Calm, prepared clients are happy clients, and they’re also the ones who give 5-star reviews.

If you’re a portrait photographer who does a lot of family sessions (like me!), make sure you help Mom prepare for the shoot.  She has to wrangle her kids, figure out what they’re going to wear, pack snacks, coordinate schedules … needless to say, this process is already stressful for her! Let Mom know she can count on you by being transparent and giving her lots of help along the way. I like to send a list of things to bring, wardrobe tips with photo examples, tips for how to prep kids the night before, and even parking instructions. The easier you can make this process for Mom, the more likely she is to give you a rave review!

Happy clients don’t just need pre-shoot communication, they also need to have a pleasurable in-person experience with you.  Find ways to make the experience of working with you fun and enjoyable. At MDP, I make sure the studio is warm and inviting, complete with snacks, waters and great music for the viewing appointment. During the session, I’ll ask parents what music their little ones love and play their favorite songs, and invite them to pick out a toy to take home if they give me good smiles. The little things make a BIG difference for your customer’s experience.

Customer experience doesn’t end with the session – it includes your sales flow and getting those gorgeous photos into your clients’ hands. In my portrait business, artwork – which I call Heart Art – is everything, and I make sure every client knows exactly what to expect regarding my prices, process, and products right from the start. They get a price menu and lookbook of artwork options via email when they inquire and again when they book. AND they get a hard copy when they come for their session.

I let them know from the start that I specialize in creating artwork for their homes and am transparent about my process and goals. And, more importantly, I make sure early on that my goals align with the client’s goals, and discuss the ways we can work together to make their dreams a reality. I make sure clients know I’m selling photos and artwork for them, not to them. Think of the ‘sales’ portion as another service you provide – you’re helping them get what they want, not trying to get them to pay for what they don’t need.  When your sales process is an extension of excellent service and done with empathy and authenticity, your customers will love working with you (and your reviews will show it)!

Something many photographers struggle with is setting up clear expectations for delivery timelines, and this can make or break your customer experience! My strategy has always been this: underpromise and overdeliver. I promise my clients that they will have their order in 4-6 weeks, but our actual goal is to deliver in 2-3.  This helps us exceed expectations and ends up being a great surprise for our clients! When it comes time to send them their artwork or have them pick it up, I always include a little gift to show our appreciation, like a few free prints and a thank you card for new clients, and use high-quality, branded packaging.  Little touches like these help set you apart and end their experience on a high note.

Reviews can make or break a small business, so I hope you spend some time and energy in earning good ones!  Work them into your client workflows and focus on providing excellent experiences.  As your confidence in your processes grows, so will your client satisfaction and, before you know it, you’ll be earning those 5-star reviews every single time!


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