More threads by Garrett Sussman

Mar 15, 2016
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Are You Losing 5 Star Reviews to Hidden Customer Expectations?


Why won?t they do it?

Why won?t most customers write a review for your agency? How do you get reviews for your clients? It seems like getting customers to respond is an uphill battle.

You?ve under-promised and over delivered. Your customers are satisfied and very happy with the results you?ve provided.

So, why won?t they share the good news?

There?s a select few, a small group of customers, who seem eager to post reviews. But these customers are in the minority. Most can?t be bothered to write a review.

Reviews are easier to get in some industries

It?s far easier to get reviews in industries where relationships and personal, one-on-one interactions play a key role. Personal trainers, doctors, coffee shops, hair stylists ? they all have an easier time getting reviews.

Which makes sense.

Customers are far more willing to leave a review because it helps the individual employee and the business. That?s great for your clients ? if they?re in industries with relationships and lots of personal interaction.

What about industries where there?s little to no personal interaction? In legal, manufacturing, or skilled trades for example?

Are they out of luck?

Only if this key ingredient is missed

The vast majority of customers aren?t thinking about offering you a review. They?re preoccupied with their work and their life. So what does that have to do with you getting reviews for yourself or your clients?

Most of the time they?re completely unaware.

They don?t know what you want specifically and even if they did, they?re preoccupied with their own problems. But, even when they?re not distracted they need to be primed.

They need you to manage their expectations.

Customer expectations impact your ability to win customer reviews. These expectations also affect your overall conversion rate and positioning.

Customers come to you with expectations

That?s pretty normal. When we buy something we all have expectations. Here?s the problem.

Customers typically won?t tell you about these expectations. They simply assume you already know. It gets better.

In their mind, you?re responsible for these expectations. If you want a (good) review, and I assume you do, you?ll need to meet their expectations which you know nothing about.

Here?s the thing.

Most businesses do the same thing to their customers. It?s common for businesses to hope and pray that customers will love their product or service so much that they?re willing to post an incredible review and immediately share with everyone they know.

Admit it.

At one point you had a vague hope or expectation that this would happen to you.

Am I right?

Trouble is, if we don?t do a good job sharing our expectations (and asking for what we want) we probably won?t get it. If we don?t talk to our customers, we can?t flush out their expectations.

But where do you start?

You start with the structure of expectations

An important study defined the differences in customer expectations, specifically as it relates to professional services. These expectations are present on both sides of the agency/customer relationship. They?re also part of the B2C relationship.

Left unmanaged, these expectations ruin your chances of getting a review.

Fuzzy expectations

Customers expect something from you. They have this vague idea of what ?it? looks like. This ?it? factor will make them happy, motivating them to leave you a glowing review.

But they can?t seem to tell you what it is. It could be anything from a hidden fear, false belief or perception, or an idea floating in the back of their head.

  • It?s too hard
  • It takes too long
  • I don?t know what to say
  • I only have bad things to say

Customers often have a variation of these fuzzy expectations floating around in their head somewhere.
What about agencies?

  • I don?t really care if they write a review
  • They probably won?t write a review
  • I don?t want their review
  • I only have bad things to say

What about your client?s customers?

  • I don?t want to spend this much money on this
  • This product doesn?t do what I really want but I don?t know what I want specifically
  • I don?t know if this will work for me
  • I won?t write a review if it doesn?t give me the results I want

Fuzzy expectations are everywhere but, faulty as they are, they can?t be fixed until they?re exposed.
So that?s exactly what you do. You gently flush them out, bringing these expectations out into the open like this:

Hi Jan!Working with you has been a pleasure. Obviously you?re one of our best customers.

Would you be willing to answer a 6 question survey? Only takes 3 min.

It would really help us out.


P.S. We want to hear it all, the good, the bad, the ugly. Feel free to be brutally honest.

Can you see what?s happening here?

We?ve crafted our request around our customer?s fuzzy expectations. They see the easy-to-miss details that answer their expectations before they?ve asked.

Implicit expectations

Implicit expectations are things we believe to be ?obvious? or simply ?common sense.? That?s the problem though. These unspoken implicit expectations are typically not common knowledge.

And there lies the problem.

These expectations aren?t explicit. They?re not obvious.

  • ?You already know what you need to do to get a positive review from me.?
  • ?I?ve already done this with other agencies so the process should be shorter, faster, easier, better.?
  • ?Write out what you want me to say and I?ll post it wherever.?
  • ?You know I?m not authorized to post a review on my company?s behalf.?

What does this look like with your client?s customers?

Tile created a bluetooth tracker to help you keep track of your stuff. Most customers who were unfamiliar with the industry or it?s technology, simply assumed Tile tracked everything regardless of distance. They made an implicit assumption about their product which led to thousands of disappointed and unsatisfied customers.


Customers believed their assumption was obvious, except that it wasn?t. And who did they hold responsible for their assumption? The seller.

Here?s what makes implicit expectations dangerous.

They become explicit when they?re violated or ignored. As soon as customers figure out you can?t read their minds and haven?t given them what they want, they?re angry. Their expectation is treated as if it were explicit from the very start.

Which means you?re much more likely to burn bridges and get a negative review.

Here?s how you find and reset expectations:

Hi Jan,

Quick question for you. Let?s say someone you?re working with asks you for a review. What would you expect from them or expect them to do first before you gave one?

You?re a thought leader at your company so I thought you?d be the best person to ask.

Appreciate you!


When you use hypothetical scenarios as a way to ask for help, you create safety. You?re able to discuss the ?obvious? and ?commonsense? realities customers normally wouldn?t share.

Here?s the best part.

You decrease the risk of appearing incompetent or inept. You?re able to agree with the ?obvious? truths customers share without judgment or condemnation.

Then, once you have the information you need, incorporate it into your request for reviews from future customers. Do it well and the conversion rates on your requests for reviews shoots up and to the right.

Unrealistic expectations

The automatic assumption with unrealistic requests is that they?re simply impossible. But that answer falls short of explaining what an unrealistic request actually is.

Here?s a better way to look at it.

An unrealistic expectation is any expectation you?re unable or unwilling to meet.

The tricky thing with unrealistic expectations is the fact that they can be fuzzy or precise, implicit or explicit.

Your customer?s willingness to write a review could be dependent on things you (a.) aren?t aware of (b.) can?t do anything about or (c.) wouldn?t help them with even if you could.

Unrealistic expectations make it tough to get reviews out of customers, but it also makes it tough to keep your customers.

  • ?I?ll only write a review if they 3x my conversion rate.?
  • ?If my product isn?t here in one hour they?re getting a bad review.?
  • ?You?ll do what I want if you want a good review or recommendation.?
  • ?I want you to do something other than what you?ve promised. You didn?t, so I won?t give you a review.?

These unrealistic expectations lose their power when they?re exposed. Exposing expectations gives everyone, including your customer, the opportunity to assess the expectation.

In this article, Andrew goes on to highlight a few more ways to set customer expectations. Read the entire post here.

How do you manage client expectations?

Whoa, so many great tips. You guys delve into the psychology of getting reviews so well!

I love this from the last email example in this article on your site:

"If you’re willing to share it there [your review] it would really help others who are on the fence. No pressure or obligation, we think you’re amazing either way.

Stay awesome!"

Hope folks click over to read the rest of the great ideas!

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