How good is your relationship with customer reviews? Is yours a love-hate relationship like it’s the case with most of your peers? If yes, it is understandable why. Most salon business owners have a lukewarm relationship with customer reviews because, when negative, reviews can significantly hurt the credibility and reputation of a local business. But don’t be too quick to loathe negative reviews. Of course, it hurts when malicious or genuinely disgruntled customers write negative reviews, but you can always turn that bad press around to the benefit of your business. We will tell you how later on.
Whatever anyone says about customer reviews, there is no denying that they are great for business. When positive, they provide businesses with the credibility and social proof they need for attracting new clients. That’s on top of the fact that business websites with keyword-optimized testimonial pages rank better on search engines than those without. And that’s not all. Local businesses with many authentic reviews on local review sites, particularly reviews that mention a business by name and its location, have high-ranking Google My Business results.
That being said, it is your job as a salon owner to ensure that your business gets many and positive customer reviews. We will help you increase your salon customer reviews, both in quality and quantity, by sharing these 10 actionable tips:
1. Never shy from asking for reviews
This is not obvious. Many salon owners hate bothering clients with review requests, and it is easy to see why. Clients go to salons to relax and be pampered; the last thing they fancy is being asked for unwarranted favors. At least that is what many people think. But while this is true at some level, not many clients would deny you a good review if you asked nicely. Many of your clients are business people too and they understand the impact their short reviews could have on your online marketing success. All you need to do is mention to them how much you value their feedback. Don’t push. Just mention it and leave everything else to the client. You can mention it during an appointment, in your after-service follow-ups, during phone call consultations, or include review reminders on your website and social media.
2. Leverage the norm of reciprocity
It is in human nature to reciprocate good deeds with good deeds. If you do someone a favor, it registers in their mind that they are in your debt. That is the norm of reciprocity.
How can you leverage the norm of reciprocity? By giving clients complimentary services. For instance, you can straighten a client’s hair for free after they pay for a haircut or give a free head massage to a regular body massage client. That places them in your debt.
Positive feedback mostly slips out naturally when clients are happy. It is at that moment of happiness that you cash in on the debt they owe you. Ask them to document all those happy thoughts in a testimonial video or written review.
3. Make it easy for customers to write reviews
Many happy clients fail to review your salon because they just don’t have the time or patience for the bureaucracy involved. That is why you should make the review process as frictionless as possible. If, for example, a client agrees to leave you a review before leaving your salon, ask your receptionist to facilitate the whole process. Have a camera ready in case they agree to a video testimonial. When asking for a testimonial over email, include a direct link to the relevant comment section of your preferred review site(s). You can go a step further and give them pointers on how to write a helpful review. For example:
“Kindly say something you like about our culture, explain the experience you had the last time you visited us, and please give us a 5-star rating”
4. Give incentives
This approach is a little more direct compared to the reciprocity norm. Here, you don’t give complimentary services with the hope that clients will reciprocate. You tell them upfront that you intend to give them a complimentary service so that they can give you a positive review in return.
You could also set up a program where you reward clients with discounted products and/or services for hitting a specified target of positive reviews.
5. Be positive when responding to bad reviews
As we already mentioned, it’s impossible to avoid bad reviews. But that’s not the tragedy. The tragedy is losing your cool when responding to disgruntled or malicious reviewers. Responding to negativity with negativity only makes you appear guilty of all the accusations leveled against your salon. It makes you seem like a business leader who isn’t competent enough to own up to their mistakes. That is why you should always be the bigger person.
How can you turn bad press around?
See bad reviews as an invaluable chance to discover the rot (if any) in your salon. Call disgruntled reviewers, apologize to them, and genuinely inquire about the experience they had in your salon. If there is something you need to fix, don’t hesitate to fix it and give feedback to concerned clients. If the reviewer exaggerated facts, disassemble their lies in a calm, respectful, and professional way. Rising above the spite will earn you respect and admiration across the internet.
Note: Don’t focus too much on the negative reviews and ignore the positive ones. Engage your positive reviewers to make them understand how highly you rate them.
6. Invest in quality salon software
Your salon software is as helpful with customer reviews as it is with business management. Here is how:
- It can provide you with invaluable insights into the likes and dislikes of each one of your clients. Such insights help you customize service delivery, make clients happy and satisfied, and give them something positive to say about your salon.
- Automating newsletters. You can use the software to send review requests via email or SMS.
- Improving your customers’ point of sale experiences and consequently making your clients happier.
- You can create simple surveys on your online booking page. These surveys help you take note of and address new negative reviews before they find their way to Yelp or Facebook.
7. Claim your business listing on popular review sites
People are definitely talking about your salon on Yelp, Yahoo, Bing Places for Business, and Google My Business. They will keep talking whether you ignore them or not. Why not stop hiding, get out in the open, and claim your place in the conversation? You can do that by claiming your salon’s business listing on these review sites.
Use your newfound platform to share your salon’s basic information, notably location, contacts, social media profiles, and business hours. Add a “book now” button on the platforms and a link to your website. Such info alone can help you counter malicious press.
Most importantly, being on these review sites gives you the chance to lead your online troops (online clients) from the front. Your clients will feel energized to write more glowing reviews and counter negative reviews with facts when they see how invested you are.
8. Display your reviews
Isn’t this the main reason why you asked for reviews in the first place? You want these reviews to be seen. Don’t leave any glowing comment hidden in a crowd of substandard and negative reviews. Pull them out of there and share them on your website and/or social media, complete with shout-outs and clients’ photos. Call the reviewers after that or send a thank you message- such gestures mean a lot to most people. They will polish their subsequent reviews even more.
9. Encourage reviews through in-salon placards
In-salon signage (window clings, banners, and brochures, etc.) and bill receipts can spur reviews in a big way. Ensure that the message on these materials is clear: e.g. “Please give us a 5-star rating and leave a review on Yelp”.
Bonus tip: Place QR codes on these materials so that clients can scan and be directed to the review platforms of your choice.
10. Engage in community programs
Just a simple event will do provided it creates an engaging and useful experience for the people involved. A good example would be a street cleaning event. You can invite your staff and clients to join in either in person or by tweeting about it online. Participants will see the human side of your business, network with a community of like-minded people, and do something good for their community.
Participants will go home feeling good about themselves and proud that they are associated with your brand. They will be more motivated to talk about your brand to their social followers and friends than ever before. You can even bring a camera and capture video testimonials in their rawest, most authentic form.
You cannot wish away client reviews, online or offline. The best thing to do is start encouraging them. Start taking negative reviews and positive criticism with poise. Your reward for doing this will be immeasurable.