Online reviews can make or break a company. In consumer products, for example, negative reviews can and will convince customers to buy better-reviewed competitive products.

The same is true in spades for SMBs and local businesses according to a recent survey conducted by the online marketing firm Yodle. Weirdly, though, just a measly 7 percent of consumers are asked to write such reviews.

And that’s ironic, nine out of ten customers say they’d post a positive review… if anybody had bothered to ask! With that in mind, here are some suggestions for ensuring that you get the glowing online reviews you truly deserve:

1. Be worthy of a good review.

You’re not going to get good reviews if your product or service sucks. Your goal should be to make every interaction with customers better than they’d expected. This includes the customer’s interaction with your product and your people. The general rule here is under-promise but over-deliver.

2. Get your employees on board.

Explain to your employees the importance of online reviews and encourage them to request a review from any customer who seems more than satisfied. Note: the better you treat your employees, the more honest the review request will seem. The last thing you want is a “my boss is forcing me to ask” vibe.

3. Train your employees.

Based upon your business and its offerings, devise scripts so that employees know how to ask. Example:

  • Employee: You seem pleased!
  • Customer: I am! This is easier than I thought!
  • Employee: Terrific! Hey, would you mind giving us an online review?

After you’ve tested the scripts with some real customers and honed them so you’re sure they’re effective, get your employees together, break them into pairs, and do role play until asking seems natural to everyone.

4. Ask at the “point of happiness.”

If you’re interacting face-to-face, ask for the customer to write and post a review as soon as you see that “knowing look of appreciation.” If on the phone, confirm that the customer is pleased, then ask for the review. If you get an email praising your firm or its offering, reply with thanks, then ask for the review.

5. Make it easy.

If your interactions are face-to-face, hand the customer a card showing the links to your review pages. (Use to make URLs easier to enter.) If the customer is holding a mobile device, ask for the review right then and there. If your interactions are on the phone or online, have an easy-to-find webpage with the links to your review pages.

6. Offer discounts to reviewers.

Most review sites allow you to post coupons and events on your review page. Actively cultivating customers who are already writing reviews is obviously going to result in your business getting more of them. Provide any customer who uses such a coupon or attends such an event with service that’s even better than your already high standard.