By Anica Oaks

With over 60 million visitors per month, Amazon is an excellent way to expand your business, whether you operate a brick-and-mortar company or sell only online. On Amazon, customers are permitted to give online reviews and star ratings to vendors. These reviews are much like word-of-mouth recommendations or complaints about your company, except that they are online and visible to the world. In 2013, studies found that 79 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as a review from a friend or family member. This 7-step process will help you get good reviews from your customers and provide you with the 5-star rating you hope for as a seller on Amazon.

1. Provide Excellent Customer Service

Just as customers should receive excellent service when they walk into a traditional retail store, customers expect the same service from an online store. Most negative reviews on Amazon come from customers who felt they were misled about a product. If you are selling something that is used, be honest about the condition. Provide accurate, detailed descriptions of everything you sell and answer any questions from potential customers immediately. If a customer complains, do whatever you must do to appease their dissatisfaction, even if it means providing shipping labels to return the item to you.

2. Heed Constructive Criticism

If you get a negative review or one that does not rate you at 5-stars, read what the customer did not like as if it were constructive criticism. Try to fix whatever happened that the customer did not like. If the customer complained that shipping was too slow, look into that particular customer’s transaction to see what happened so that it does not happen again. Contact the customer to apologize as well.

3. Include a Thank You Note in the Package

Since you are probably shipping with a packing slip, consider adding a thank you note as well. Even a pre-printed note thanking the customer for purchasing from your store can easily be added to any package. If at all possible, include a handwritten note, thanking them for their purchase, although this may be difficult for high-volume sales, such as retailers like A customer who feels as if the company appreciates their business is more likely to leave a positive review.

4. Send a Follow-Up Email

Amazon automatically sends an email asking customers to leave feedback, but it is generic and many customers simply ignore it or delete it from their inbox. A few days after shipping the item, send a follow-up email to see how they like the product, thanking them again for purchasing and reminding them to leave feedback. You could even include a link to the page making it easier for the customer. There are even programs that will allow you to send customized automatic feedback request emails.

5. Use Social Media

Post a request on your social media pages, even personal ones, asking your friends and followers to provide feedback for you. It is possible your friends and followers purchased from you in the past, so their feedback will be legitimate. Amazon does not discourage sellers from soliciting reviews, so you will not be violating any seller rules by doing so. It may be beneficial to provide a free offer in exchange for the review, such as a discount coupon or free product for them to try. Keep in mind that this type of solicitation may result in some negative reviews, so use caution in what you offer as a free gift. You want to be sure it is a good product that will encourage a 5-star review.

6. Contact People Who Reviewed Similar Products

On your product page, find the sections titled “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” and “Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed.” If the items purchased or viewed were not on your product page, the customers were checking out or purchasing from a competitor. Go to the competitor’s page and click on the “Customer Review” link. Sort reviews by the newest review and click the most recent reviewer’s name. If the reviewer left contact information, such as an email address, send them an email introducing your company and asking them for a review. If there is only a name, you may be able to find them on social media. You may want to offer a free product for them to try with the agreement that they will review the product on your Amazon product site.

7. Solicit Amazon Top Reviewers

Amazon creates lists of reviewers they consider to be esteemed and valued for their opinions. A reviewer who is considered an expert will have “Top Ten Reviewer” or “Hall of Fame Reviewer” next to their name. Contact those reviewers and ask them to provide one for your online store. Top reviewers at Amazon review everything and many post hundreds of reviews each month. Now, many of the top reviewers are part of an elite, invitation-only Vine Voice program where companies send them products for review. Companies pay a fee to belong to the Vine program and the reviewer receives the product for free with the only stipulation that they write a review and not resell the product. Companies who wish to be part of the Vine program should contact Amazon to learn what is required.

Although this 7-step process is not guaranteed to give you 5-star reviews every time, by following them you are more likely to make your customers happy and get excellent reviews across the board more often.

A recent college graduate from University of San Francisco, Anica loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. Follow Anica on Google +.