In today’s technology-driven society, people are able to locate information on most people, places, and things with a simple click of the mouse. The instant gratification that the internet provides is just one reason people go online now more than ever before. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, 73 percent of Americans go online on a daily basis, with 21 percent revealing they go online almost constantly, 42 percent several times a day, and 10 percent go online about once a day.
In the past, people relied on word-of-mouth recommendations from family and friends, but the Internet’s ability to provide instant information has led many to begin making choices based on the personal reviews of other internet users, even those they don't know personally. A BrightLocal survey of consumers, for example, found that 91 percent of consumers regularly or occasionally read online reviews. Also, the survey found that 84 percent of those surveyed trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, 87 percent say that a business needs a rating of three-to-five stars before they will use it, and only 14 percent of consumers surveyed would consider using a business with a one-to-two star rating. This means that online reviews matter.
“Paying attention to your online reputation is vital to growing your business and continuing to attract new customers,” says Roxanne Borger, director of client education at MindBody. “Other people’s experiences are the impression searchers get before they even set foot inside your business, and you want them to be able to imagine themselves there having as good an experience as your reviews describe. Word-of-mouth is one of the top ways spas are getting new clients—and that includes online reviews. That said, review sites should really be viewed as another arm of your marketing strategy. If you encourage reviews in a proactive and effective way, the words of your happy clients will be invaluable in helping to attract new clients.”
Online reviews are important as they allow customers to voice their opinions about their experiences—both good and bad. Here are some words of advice to ensure online reviews help—not hurt—your business:
“Make it easy for customers to leave a review everywhere and anywhere they interact with your business. Send a request and link in booking confirmation emails, include it in your newsletter, and place it on your website. Sometimes offering an incentive helps—perhaps a discount on their next service—but keep in mind that some review sites have restrictions surrounding this.”—Roxanne Borger, director of client education, MindBody
“My recommendation is to ensure that managing reviews is a priority and that there is a dedicated person who has time blocked on their schedule to monitor and respond.”—Amanda Wisell, marketing manager, Springer-Miller Systems
“A business owner should always be conscious of how its brand is portrayed digitally. Whether this is online reviews or comments on social media platforms, keeping up with reviews is all part of brand maintenance.”—Colleen Lemos, senior public relations specialist, Millennium Systems International
“Using software to help you request reviews from happy customers is a best practice. If clients get a reminder by email or text after a great visit or service, they’re more likely to take action and provide a review. Show appreciation to people who are positive, and be reasonable and apologetic when a bad review appears.”—Corey Kossack, founder and CEO, Frederick, a marketing automation platform for spas, salons, and other local service businesses
“Always respond to reviews, even positive ones. If people take the time to compliment the therapist on the quality of the service, then take the time to thank them for reviewing their experience. If they leave a negative comment, don’t take a defensive attitude. Thank them for their comments, and take action. If it is a very poor comment, offer to speak to them personally offline.”—John Bevan, COO, Spafinder Wellness
“Be open and honest. Consumers are savvy and will see through things if they are not genuine.”—Roger Sholanki, CEO and founder, Book4Time