The Ultimate Salon Owner’s Guide To Managing Online Reviews
In a published survey, 78% of people believe online reviews are at least “somewhat reliable”. And 59% of online shoppers view them as trustworthy as a reference from a friend.
That’s huge… especially considering reviews are often the first thing someone sees on Google. It’s all the more important now for business owners to take notice of their online reputation. It is becoming easier and easier for people to share their opinions publicly. And this is most likely to happen when someone is either very satisfied or very unsatisfied.
So the questions is, what is the proper way for a small salon or spa to manage their reviews?
Let’s dig in…
Track your reviews
First, be sure you have claimed your accounts with Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, and any other relevant sources. With Administrative access to these accounts, you will be able to read and respond to reviews.
To look even further, you can setup a tool called Google Alerts. This tool will send you a notification if your business name is mentioned online. It checks websites, blogs, videos and other discussions around the web.
How to get better reviews
If you don’t have any or many reviews, kindly ask for them. Sounds simple, right? Then why aren’t you doing it?
The next time you have a satisfied client leave your chair, ask them. You are more likely to get a positive review on the day of service rather than later.
If you don’t get that review, you may consider following up with some of your most loyal clients. These are the people who are most likely to help you out. Send out a personalized email or text message, kindly asking for an honest review. Don’t ask for a 5 star review. These need to be believable to the public.
And lastly, don’t incentivise with an offer for a “free” anything. If someone is getting paid with something, their review may not be honest. If you do decide to give an incentive, follow the rules. You may setup a drawing, where writing an honest review will get them an entry. That’s as far as we would advise going.
Respond to all reviews
First, decide who will handle your reviews. This person needs to be:
- Level headed and reasonable
- Not someone with a short temper
- Someone well-written and friendly
- Someone that can maintain a level of professionalism
- Someone who knows your clients and can be genuine in their response
Be sure to respond to reviews as quickly as possible. Thank them for their honesty and for helping to support your business. Be genuine, be kind, be gracious.
And the next time that client comes in for an appointment, thank them again in person. Write it down on your calendar, do what you have to do to remember. It will go a long way.
How to respond to negative reviews
If this has happened to you, don’t lose hope. Negative reviews or experiences can even happen to a great business. The difference is all in how you respond to it. And Yes… You. Should. Respond.
If possible, have a manager reach out to the client offline first by phone or email. This shows your customer you care and you are engaged. Ask them to elaborate on their experience and the issues that came up. Don’t interrupt, listen respectfully to them. Also, ask what you could have done for them to have had a different experience.
Never argue with them. Remain calm. Be kind. Be understanding.
Your hope is that they will change their mind about your business and possibly even change their online review (although don’t ask them to). Assure them that their experience is important to your business and you want to learn from this. Offer to add-on an upgraded service if they were to let you try again with another stylist.
If that doesn’t work or you are unable to reach the client, respond to the negative comment online. Provide as much detail as possible about the event or issue. Don’t blame, don’t go on the defense, don’t act crazy. It will only look bad on your business.
Assure them that your establishment strives to make clients look and feel great. Thank them for their opinion and let them know that you would love the opportunity to have them back to the salon.
How to remove fake negative reviews
It can be infuriating when someone leaves a fake review. Sometimes this can come from the hands of a competitor, an ex-employee, or just a jerk. Regardless of who created the fake review, be sure it is in fact, fake.
Check the name in your customer database, verify with your employees, etc. If you are sure it’s fake, here’s what to do:
1. Flag the review (Google’s Instructions)
Open your reviews and hover over the area next to the review stars (as shown below). When the flag appears, click it and you will be sent to a page where you can report it as a violation of Google’s TOS. You will need to fill out the form with the appropriate information and your business email address. It can take several days so be patient.
2. Call, Email or Live Chat with Google
If the previous step does not succeed with a removal of the review within a few days, call Google. To do this, you will need to login to your listing here. Once inside your dashboard, locate the ‘Support’ link on the left navigation bar. Another window will pop up (shown below) and there you need to click ‘Need more help’ at the bottom. Follow the diagram below and you will be able to speak to someone at Google about your problem. Please have your evidence ready, be patient, be polite and be persistent.
3. Go down the legal route
If all else fails, fill out the legal removal request form on Google’s website. Continue to follow up and hopefully, that negative review will be removed in time.
In this day and age, it really is worth the time and investment to stay on top of your reviews. Handling them professionally will also help to maintain a better Google ranking and presence. I genuinely hope this post has given you some guidance on what to do in all review situations.
Till next time…
Now, it’s your turn
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