• Scott Moon

The Importance of Online Reviews for Small Businesses

A bad review can easily damage the reputation of a small business. On the flip side, positive reviews can make a world of difference when growing your business.



Check out these latest statistics about online reviews:

  • 97% of consumers read online reviews before making a buying decision

  • 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from a friend or family member

  • Over 72% of consumers have more trust in a local business with positive reviews

  • Consumers read an average of 7 reviews before trusting a business

  • 46% of consumers pay attention to the quantity of reviews when making a buying decision

  • Yelp (20%), Facebook (20%) and Google (16%) are the most trusted online review sites

Sources:

BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey - 2017

HBS Working Paper: Reviews, Reputation, and Revenue: The Case of Yelp.com

Local Search and Online Reviews Survey - 2017



The results are clear: managing your online reputation is critical for your business. But how do you do it?

Here are several things you can do to take control of your online reputation and use it to grow your business:


1. Give them a reason to rave! Remember that your online reputation is a reflection of your customer experience. If you want great reviews, you have to start by delivering consistent, world-class service so that consumers want to rave about you (and not rant!).



2. Ask! Part of your world-class service should be asking consumers about their experience in your business before they leave. In a hair salon or spa, 95 times out of 100 the client is feeling incredible after their service. You need to ask every single happy client to write a review



3. Make it easy! Let’s face it. How many times have we been asked to review a business and even said to ourselves that we’d do it, but then never get around to it? It happens. Upset clients are simply more motivated to write reviews than happy clients. So you have to make it as easy as possible by sending an email to each client individually with a link directly to the page where you want them to write their review. Create a really nice message that thanks the client for their business and shows that you value them, then asks them to leave a brief review through the link. If you find you’re having trouble getting people to write reviews naturally, you might consider offering some rewards to thank them for taking the time (extra points in your loyalty program for instance, free travel size product, etc...)



4. Respond quickly and politely to ALL reviews! Many businesses only respond to the negative reviews. The reality is that you should also be publicly thanking the clients that have written positive reviews as this helps demonstrate your world-class service and that you value your clients.


If you do receive a negative review, stay factual, not emotional! When responding to negative reviews, you must always start by acknowledging the client and showing that they are valued. (ex: “Thank you very much for your feedback. We are very sorry to hear that your experience didn’t meet your expectations.”) Stick to facts and avoid laying blame on anyone, especially the client. Try to keep the response short and sweet and offer to help resolve the issue ‘offline’. (ex: “We pride ourselves on striving to exceed our clients’ expectations and would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you directly to see how we can ensure that happens during your next experience with us.”)


If you are able to have a followup conversation with an upset client, be sure that they speak with someone on your team who is very skilled in interpersonal communication. You must realize that you are not likely to ‘fix’ an upset person, but you are trying to limit the damage as much as possible by taking any additional comments ‘offline’.



5. Compare! Compare your average rating on the biggest review sites (Yelp, Google, Facebook) with your main competitors and work to get yourself to the top of the list.



Follow these tips and you should be on your way to building a positive online reputation for your company. Bonus: your bottom line will show you a positive review too!



Looking for more tips for salons and spas? Check out the rest of our Resource Library for valuable content to help grow your salon or spa business!


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