There is no doubt that customer reviews are important—especially when it comes to small, competitive businesses like photography. Ideally, every customer would post glowing reviews of your work. However, some people need encouragement to do so, whereas others may be set on extreme criticism no matter what.
Getting customer reviews is the best way to offer future customers real-life proof that your work is worth every penny and that you deliver what you say you do in your marketing and consultations.
Here are some strategies for getting more reviews and for responding to the bad ones.
With seemingly every customer transaction requesting a review these days, some clients may have a bit of “review fatigue.” This can make it challenging to get reviews for your photography business. You know how important reviews are, but you don’t want to feel like you are inconveniencing your customer.
So, how can you encourage your clientele to post their reviews without appearing demanding or giving incentives? Turns out, the simplest way is to be direct and honest, and Just ask.
Here are a few easy strategies for getting more customer reviews for your photography business:
Here’s an example of a post-shoot email:
Thank you again for a great shoot! I had an amazing time working with your family and hope you did too.
I’ve started editing your photos. They’re so beautiful—I can’t wait for you to see them!
In the meantime, I’d really appreciate it if you could write a short review for me to use on my website. Reviews help my little business more than you know, so even a few words would be extremely helpful. Insert the link to the site you want the reviews on.
I’ll send the photos to you by [date].
And here’s an example of the second follow-up email:
I wanted to check in and see how you’re enjoying your images. You and your family were wonderful photo subjects and a joy to work with! Please let me know if you have any questions.
I would also really appreciate it if you would write a review for me (here - insert link to platform you want the review on)! It doesn’t have to be formal—just think about how you would describe my services to a friend. Feel free to respond to this email with a few sentences…it makes a huge difference in growing my business!
If the client still doesn’t write a review after the second email, let it go. Stay consistent in following this process with every client and many of them will be more than happy to write a brief review!
When you get a great review, share it on social media. Thank the client who wrote it and let your audience know how much it means to you when customers review your business.
Great reviews will encourage more people to book you, and posting them can also remind existing clients to write a review, too.
When you get a positive review, respond promptly with gratitude and enthusiasm. You can make your response more meaningful by including something appreciative or personal about the customer, such as their promptness, preparation, or cooperation during the session.
It’s also important to send a thank you directly to the client’s email and tell them how much their kind words mean to you and how important they are to your business.
It’s disheartening and even sometimes downright infuriating to receive a bad review for your hard work. Sometimes bad reviews can come from someone you haven’t even photographed and they just decided to take their bad day out on you and your business.
If that’s your usual approach, you aren’t alone. Many business owners simply don’t respond to bad reviews. Some believe that any acknowledgment gives negative reviews credence, while others hope that ignoring them will lessen their impact.
Unfortunately, not responding to bad reviews can hurt your business far more than help it. Ignoring your clients, even the rude ones, can give the impression that you’re bitter or that you don’t care about client concerns.
So what is the best way to respond to a bad review? Providing a direct, polite, and clear response shows that you are professional, confident in your work, and caring toward all your clientele.
The way you respond to a bad review depends on the situation. Do you think the review is unfair? Or do you know that you messed up? Here’s how to effectively handle both scenarios.
Acknowledge: With careful, fair, and professional language, start by thanking the reviewer for taking the time to post a review.
Refute: If you know that the session went well, you met agreed-upon expectations, and you provided quality results, politely refute the client’s claims. State your perceptions and provide any evidence or reasoning to support your view. Choose your words carefully to avoid sounding argumentative.
Repair: Show that you’re willing to repair the relationship by offering to schedule a meeting or phone call to address their concerns. You can also express your willingness to make any necessary provisions to better their experience.
Here’s an example:
“Thank you for your feedback, [Name]. I hold my work to a high standard, and I’m sorry that you weren’t happy with your experience. I would love to hear more about what you feel went wrong, as you and your family shared positive feedback during and after the session. I’m happy to schedule a meeting or phone call to learn more about your concerns and do whatever I can to improve your experience.”
Acknowledge: Again, thank the reviewer for their post using careful, fair, and professional language.
Concede: If something did go wrong with the session or product, politely concede any circumstances that were beyond your control (e.g., inclement weather, camera malfunction, car broke down, etc.). Try to avoid sounding like you’re whining or making too many excuses. You’re simply acknowledging what went wrong. This indicates strength of character and a reasonable, professional mindset.
Repair: Use the same strategy mentioned above to repair the relationship. Offer a way to personally address their concerns, along with possible measures to better their experience.
Here’s an example:
“I appreciate your feedback, [Name]. I’m so sorry to hear that you didn’t have a positive experience. The thunderstorm on the day of your shoot was unfortunate, and I apologize that you weren’t satisfied with the backup location. I would be happy to schedule a meeting or phone call to discuss your concerns and determine how I can improve your experience.”
In either scenario, we highly recommend sharing the situation with a friend or another photographer and asking for their advice on your reply. Choose your confidante wisely—they need to be calm, pragmatic, and aware of the longer-term implications of your response.
Always ask for reviews, even if it feels uncomfortable to you at first. By making it part of your workflow, you’ll get used to requesting reviews and learn which strategies work best for you. Customer reviews are an important part of growing your business so you should prioritize asking for them as an active and ongoing growth strategy.
Along the way, you’ll likely get a few bad reviews—everyone does. Try your best not to take it personally. Respond politely and professionally, remembering that your response to negative reviews speaks volumes to your character, professionalism, and customer service skills.
Keep in mind that most customers are savvy when it comes to reading reviews. They are likely to notice, and disregard, if a client is being unfair or rude. Don’t get into a petty chain of responses back and forth. Your single response to their review is thorough and considerate enough. If the client has more to say, they can contact you directly.
Treat bad reviews as potential learning experiences (when the client isn’t being unreasonable) and a good reminder to reach out to your favorite clients and ask for reviews. A few negative reviews in a sea of positivity implies that the issue may be with the clients and not with you, or at the very least that poor experiences are rare for your clientele. And reading positive reviews from your many happy clients will help you get your motivation and confidence back!