Why customers refuse to write reviews for your business

Reading Time: 7 minutes

You asked for a review. 

Then they decided to ghost you. You went above and beyond for your customer – they told you that they were happy, and they thanked you for your help. They even agreed to write a review for your business. 

Then they disappeared. 

It feels like a slap in the face as if your customers lied to you and they were simply too scared to admit the truth. They didn’t want to write a review, but they were afraid to tell you. 

Why does this happen? 

To answer this question, we’ll need to identify what motivates customers to write reviews.

What motivates customers to write reviews?

Let’s take a look at the research on this.

Researchers found that customers have seven motivations that give us a better understanding of their reasons for writing positive and negative reviews.

  • Revenge. The reviewer, a customer, is unhappy about their experience with you, and they’ve decided to punish you by retaliating in their review. These reviews are typically filled with embarrassing details about your business and lots of emotional language. 
  • Stress and anger reduction. These customers are angry about their experience. They had an expectation, and it wasn’t met. Their review is a form of catharsis; they’re looking for a way to vent to relieve or reduce the emotions they’re feeling.
  • A cry for help. Some customers prefer to request advice from a community (e.g., TripAdvisor or Yelp); they have a problem that you can fix, but they don’t feel safe approaching you with that problem. These reviewers don’t believe you can or will address their problems, so they’ve decided to approach prospective buyers for advice instead.
  • Reducing cognitive dissonance. These new customers have recently made a purchase, but they’re attempting to self-soothe; they’re experiencing buyer’s remorse. Their positive review is their attempt to reassure themselves that they’ve made the right decision.
  • Reciprocity. These customers feel a strong pull towards reciprocity (I have to repay my debt) or likeability (I like you and want to help). You’ve done a fantastic job for them, and they know a positive review will help you;  they feel honor-bound to repay their debt by sharing their experience with others. 
  • Altruism. These customers are highly conscientious; they’ve determined that sharing their honest feedback with prospective buyers is the right thing to do. They do their best to provide a full accounting of their experience with you, whether it’s positive or negative.
  • Message intrigue. These reviews are typically a response to activity elsewhere. They can be triggered by online activity – ads, commercials, or public relations flare-ups. A political or social faux pas, an embarrassing mistake, or an unethical or immoral act. 

These seem obvious, don’t they? 

Here’s the part most people miss about these motivations. They don’t tell us why customers ignore our review requests. 

That’s right. 

You’re dealing with two separate issues. 

So why then? 

Why do customers ghost you when you request a review? Why can’t they just do the adult thing and say No? Lincoln Murphy, co-author of the book, Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring Revenue, explains why customers ghost you.

Customers are: 

  • Disappointed, you dropped the ball
  • Ashamed, they dropped the ball
  • Overwhelmed, you gave them way too many balls
  • Underwhelmed, it wasn’t the ball they thought they bought
  • Busy, they have too many other balls

This is bad news. 

But even if it’s bad news, it’s good news to know. 

It’s your way out. 

If you choose to fix the problem, you’ll unghost your business, earning a coveted review from an otherwise valuable customer. Let’s take a closer look at a few of these reasons and ask ourselves the following questions.

1. Why do customers feel disappointed?

  • You didn’t solve their problem(s)
  • Your product or service wasn’t what they expected
  • Your solution is too hard, complex, or messy to use
  • They couldn’t use what they paid for
  • Customer support is unavailable or didn’t help them
  • Pre and post-sales expectations don’t match
  • They feel taken advantage of
  • Your product or service isn’t a fit

2. Why do customers feel ashamed?

  • They can’t remember doing business with you
  • They don’t remember what you did for them
  • They don’t know what they should write in their review 
  • They didn’t treat your employees well
  • They’re ashamed to admit they paid for but didn’t use your product or service
  • They feel bad for ghosting you
  • They’re struggling with personal insecurities (e.g., spelling, grammar)
  • They don’t want to help you, and they feel they’re being ungrateful

3. Why do customers feel overwhelmed?

  • They’re overwhelmed by your product or service
  • Overwhelmed by the amount of information they need to sift through
  • Overwhelmed by your support team
  • They haven’t gotten a chance to use your product or service
  • They don’t know where to start with your product or service
  • Overwhelmed by the task in front of them and they’re procrastinating 
  • Overwhelmed by the amount of work it takes to use your product or service
  • Overwhelmed by their life or circumstances

4. Why do customers feel underwhelmed?

  • Customers are dealing with bait and switch
  • Salespeople overpromised and underdelivered 
  • Your product or service is poorly executed 
  • Your product or service is not what customers expected
  • Customers are asked to do more than they expected
  • Product or service reliability is inconsistent and unreliable
  • Customer support is inconsistent and unreliable
  • Your product or service requires additional onboarding, training, or support

5. Customers are busy (no explanation needed, am I right?)


This isn’t a comprehensive list. 

Your curiosity and willingness to listen to customer feedback will make all the difference here. If you want to gain an in-depth understanding of your customers, you’ll want to have a heart-to-heart with them as often as possible.

How do you address these issues? You know some of your customers will ghost you when you request a review. How do you unghost yourself and earn a review from these silent customers?

How to get reviews from customers when you’re ghosted

We’re going to create a simple system you can use to attract customer reviews. It’s a three-step process that protects your relationship with your customers, ensuring that you can request reviews from unresponsive customers again and again without being spammy. 

Here it is. 

  • Delight your customers
  • Request a review
  • Walkaway

Let’s break this down. 

You have a list of customers, right? I’ll assume, for the sake of argument, that most of these customers haven’t written a glowing review for your business. 

So it’s time for step one. 

  1. Delight your customers

This is exactly what it sounds like; you’re going to find a way to make your customers happy. The sky is the limit here – you can send them a thank you card, offer discounts, gifts (no bribes), etc. You’re looking for a way to provide them with exceptional value. 

An easy way to do this is with Peter Thiel’s value formula. 

  • Create X dollars of value
  • Capture Y percent of X 

Make sure you’re consistently going out of your way to make your customers happy. It shouldn’t look like you’re buttering them up to request a review later.  

Here’s the key point. 

You have to do something new to delight your customers. This is essential because it keeps you top-of-mind, ensuring that these customers are responsive to your review requests later on. The more delighted they are, the more likely they are to respond. 

At this point, you’re ready for step two. 


  1. Request a review

There’s a nuance to this. Earlier I listed four reasons explaining why customers ghost your review requests, remember? 

So now it’s time to address those concerns directly. 

How do we do that? 

We create a review request autoresponder sequence that sends our requests out via email and text. We’ll create a series of short, concise messages that address these unspoken concerns, starting with the most common reasons why customers ghost you. 

Like this. 


This email template is written for both the ‘busy customer’ and the ‘overwhelmed customer.’ It’s short, concise, and to the point.

Subject: [Customer name], you’re in the top 3%, what do you think?


[Customer name], 

You’re one of our very best customers (top 3%). Quick question for you. 

Did we make you happy? 


Our executives want to know what our best customers think, and we’re reaching out to you. It only takes 60 seconds; share your feedback here.

Can you help? 



This email template is written for both the ‘disappointed customer’ and the ‘customer who is ashamed.’ It provides them with the guidance they need to share their feedback, and it assumes we’re in the wrong, allowing them to save face. 

Subject: [Customer name], you hate us, don’t you?


[Customer name], 

That’s what [Reviewer Name], our customer asked us after they wrote their review. It was actually the opposite. They cared enough to reach out and tell us we had egg on our faces. 

Would you tell us if we had egg on our faces? 

Would you be willing to answer these six questions? They’ll tell us whether we did a great job for you (or not). This only takes [2 minutes].

Share your feedback here.



This email template is written for the ‘underwhelmed customer.’ It’s designed to draw out their negative feedback, getting them to vent their concerns to you so they can share them and you can address them publicly.

Subject: [Customer name], are we overrated?


[Customer name], 

Do you think we’re overrated?  

It’s totally okay if you think we are. In fact, I’m reaching out to ask you to share that opinion with the world. Why on earth would I invite you to embarrass us online? 

Because we want to make you happy. 

If you’re happy, you’ll stay. If you’re underwhelmed, or you think we’re overrated, you’ll leave. I won’t lie, your feedback, it’s going to sting – it’ll bruise all the egos of our executives, managers, and leaders. 

It’ll embarrass us and force us to change. 

We need this. 

Would you be willing to answer these six questions? They’ll show us where we went wrong.

Share your feedback here.


Why would you use this template? 

Because your customers will talk about it; if you take the time to make things better, they’ll love you for it. 

Alright, when do you use these email and text templates? 

You use it after you’ve been ghosted. 

What do I mean by that? Well, this is a round two autoresponder sequence. You get a new customer, and you request a review. 

They ghost you. 

You go out of your way to woo them, to delight them. Then you request a review again, while the memory of the amazing things you’ve just done for them is fresh on their mind. If they write a review for you, great! If they ghost you again, walk away for a period of time until they re-engage with you.  

Then you repeat the three-step delight system. 

Do this, and you’ll find you can earn more reviews from the customers who previously ghosted you or refused to write reviews for your business.

Customers will ignore your review requests. You can win them back

You went above and beyond for your customer – they told you that they were happy, and they thanked you for your help. They even agreed to write a review for your business. 

Then they disappeared. 

It feels like a slap in the face as if your customers lied to you and they were simply too scared to admit the truth. They didn’t want to write a review, but they were afraid to tell you. 

There’s a simple solution. 

Delight them again, then re-request a review. Follow this simple three-step system, and you’ll find you’re able to earn passionate reviews from customers who are willing to stand with you. Use the hidden reasons for their silence, and you’ll attract a steady stream of reviews on-demand.