In our ever-changing world, one thing seems certain: the growth of technology. Hate it or love it, this new way of living seems to be here to stay, and it is important that we learn to adapt and make the best of it. More than ever, clients are online and connected 24/7 through web browsing, social media sites, entertainment channels and the list goes on.
People love to talk about themselves and voice their opinion, and today’s technology allows them to voice how they feel every second of every day. They are taking to their social media accounts or visiting online review websites to share their love or distain for a place or experience, and news travels quick. Once someone posts something online, that thought is immediately shared with hundreds if not thousands of people around the world in mere seconds.
Your present, past and future clients are all spending a massive amount of time online. There are many ways a client’s time online can affect a spa business, but this article will focus on how online reviews can directly affect public perception of a spa and steps managers can take to subside those concerning posts.
The Power of Peers
A few years ago, the most popular place to recommend or warn the public of an experience was Yelp. This online forum and now app allows anyone to create a profile and voice their opinion on local attractions and businesses. They not only get to rate their experience from one to five stars, but can also leave a detailed and personal public message to the public justifying their feelings.
This was a complete game changer, and people still use this forum and app as a means to decide whether or not they will visit a place of business based on the opinions and reviews of peers. People use the forum when they’re new to an area, looking for a service or provider, and if they are visiting an area on vacation. It allows them to see what is hot and what is not, and they are basing this decision on what others have said.
BUT, today’s internet community offers a number of sites where users can leave online reviews: TripAdvisor, SpaFinder, Google Reviews and of course, social media. A review can be a nice or negative description on an experience, but it can also come in other forms. An online review is anything that generates awareness and attention to a company or product. This can be found by tagging a company’s name in a Twitter or Facebook status update. It is checking in at a business on a mobile device. It is Instagraming a picture of their skin after an amazing facial treatment and tagging the company’s name in the caption. These are all forms of online reviews.
Online reviews are powerful because happy or upset clients want to rave or rant about that experience, and what easier way to do this than through a closed channel. Most clients feel more comfortable expressing how they feel through a website than in person. The same idea goes for why more people text rather than talking over the phone. Expression through technology makes clients feel less vulnerable, and they are more comfortable typing how you feel rather than saying it directly.
People are also comfortable looking for and finding this type of communication when looking for service providers. They trust their peers when seeking advice about a new business. Clients might have always had opinions and things they wanted to say, but now they have a platform—multiple platforms actually.
It’s Not Always Clients
Reviews can come from anywhere and anyone. They come from current clients, and they come from past customers. Reviews aren’t always so black and white, and many times these reviews are being left by disgruntled employees, previous coworkers and unfortunately, competitors.
What can make things even harder is negative reviews left by anonymous users, and business owners and readers have no way to find out who they are. This is where managing online reviews can get tricky, but there are some things you can do to gain a more positive online presence.
Addressing Online Reviews
A review can be one of two things: favorable or not. When it comes to online reviews, a spa owner should be prepared to deal with the best and the worst. There are a lot of online reputation and review management companies and software platforms that you can purchase for your company. While this can be a good idea, it is an investment. Be sure to choose a company with a good reputation and one that works for you.
However, managing online reputation and reviews can be done on a much smaller scale and should be part of a company’s routine operations.
Search regularly. Tracking your business name on a daily basis through online searches will allow spa owners to stay on top of what is being said, so that they can act quickly should a negative situation arise.
Be open to change. Listen and be able to understand that sometimes changes need to be made if a business continues to get a lot of negative reviews. Once and awhile, a negative review can come from someone who is not honest and only looking to start trouble. However, if there is a trend or a specific complaint that keeps coming up, do your business a favor by stepping back and admitting that you might be wrong and are in need of a change.
Engage and sympathize with the negative. In the case of receiving a bad review or a less than perfect five-star rating, what you should do is respond. In a sympathizing and understanding tone, type a response back to those who have left those reviews. This not only saves a relationship with the person who is upset, but it also lets the public see that you care and are sorry for someone’s unpleasant experience at your business. They can also see that you want to make it right. Show them that you are listening. Show them that you are engaged. Engaging with your customers and future client base lets the world know that you’re engaged with your customers and your loyalty lies with them.
Reward the positive. Don’t ignore the positive reviews. The same tactic should go for positive reviews: respond. Let that person know how happy you are that she is happy and enjoyed her experience at your business. This creates loyalty with that client, but also will make her feel appreciated. She will be more likely to refer friends and family to your establishment for future services. Ask her to follow you on your social media sites so that she can stay current with all that is happening with your business.
Getting More Reviews
While negative reviews can hurt your business, positive reviews can bolster it exponentially and create more awareness and word-of-mouth for your offerings. Getting your clients to give you a review is more than asking them to write 100 words on why they love coming to your business; it is being done by people without them even realizing that they are doing it. If you don’t have any reviews yet, get them.
A lot of companies out there will write “ghost” or fake reviews for your business to make your reputation better, or in some cases, to make it existent. This route is not your best course of action. It is always obvious when reviews are computer generated and lack authenticity, and people will be able to pick up on it to damage your reputation even further. A real review is worth more than a fake review.
If your spa has no current reviews online or you are a new business and want to get people to start leaving online reviews, simply ask them. If you have a loyal clientele base, asking them to write a quick review or give you a shout out on social media is always an easy and fool-proof method. Offering an incentive for those who review is always a way to go. You can advertise, “Like us on Facebook and give us a review and receive 10% off your service today.” Also leaving small signage in the locker rooms and in treatment rooms to remind people to Instagram and tag their experience is another fun way to start generating reviews.
Manage Your Reputation
At the end of the day, it all boils down to three simple things: be honest, be engaged and listen to your clients. If you do these things, you can’t go wrong. If you find that you don’t have the time to run a business and keep track of reviews, find someone to delegate these tasks to or hire someone. You don’t have to like that the world is now so tuned into social media and online channels, but for the sake of surviving as a business, you need to acknowledge it and know how to adapt.
After all, 88% of Americans polled said that online reviews have an influence on whether or not they purchase a service or product.1 Reviews will become your reputation, and the impact they have on your business is important. It will not only affect your current client base, but your future clients as well.
(Accessed Jan 5, 2016)