Eight surefire ways of increasing and improving your spa’s online reviews

49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business

Online reviews can have a huge impact on the success of your spa (or salon, or wellness business). Reviews on sites like Tripadvisor, Facebook, Yelp, Google, and BBB have become an important part of the process for people choosing a business to patronize.

And with so many spas out there offering great services, happy customers sharing their experiences with others is a key component of rising above the competition.

According to research:

  • 97% of consumers looked online for local businesses in 2017
  • 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more
  • 49% of consumers need at least a four-star rating before they choose to use a business
  • 50% of consumers say negative reviews make them question the quality of the business

As you can see, it’s imperative to stay on top of your online reviews and manage your reputation.

That said, you might think writing your own positive reviews of your business is a clever idea. It’s not. Sites are watching for these actions and if caught you will be penalized. Be honest. It will serve you better in the long run, in business and in life.

Here are 8 better ways of generating more and better online reviews.

Claim your listing. If the review site allows you to do so, claim your listing and create your company profile. Claiming your business on Tripadvisor, for example allows you to take charge of the posting, add your location and hours, update the description, and add your own photos.

According to research “Restaurants with hours of operation on their TripAdvisor listing see 36 percent more engagement than those without them.” And Yelp says that “Businesses who complete their profiles see, on average, 5x the customer leads each month.”

Take bad reviews seriously. Resist the urge to rationalize them or dismiss the customer as difficult and irrational.

Communicate. Respond to reviews, both negative and positive. If someone says something kind, thank them. After all, if someone told you in person that they enjoyed their experience, you would say something like “Thank you. I’m so glad.” Do the same online. Being kind and taking the time to say thank you will increase your likability. Conversely, if a guest leaves a negative review, don’t just let it sit there. Responding demonstrates to your online audience that you care about your guest experience.

Offer an apology for the negative experience, even if you feel that your spa was not at fault. Take it offline by offering to discuss the situation by phone or email. Keep it brief and resist the urge to argue, defend yourself your business, or make accusations, which will only make you look petty and childish.

Then communicate with the reviewer about their experience and see if there is any way you can turn it around by making amends. People often leave bad reviews in the heat of the moment and later regret it. They might change their review once contacted by a concerned and reasonable person. If you can’t do anything about it, or they are just unreasonable, forget it and move on.

Research has found that business that respond to reviews generate more reviews and increase their star ratings.

Don’t sweat a couple of bad reviews. In fact, a couple of bad reviews might actually help your business. If everything is all positive, people might think something is fake or that you’re burying the negative. After all, nobody is perfect. And one or two bad reviews with friendly, helpful, and apologetic responses can make you look both honest, engaged, and professional.

Ask every customer for feedback. Send customer satisfaction surveys after every guest leaves your spa. A vast majority of people will not complain; they just won’t come back. So, it’s easy to get blindsided by a bad review. You won’t know how they feel about their experience unless you ask. Use the customer feedback experience to turn a bad experience around with an apology and a treatment on the house before it turns into a smear on your reputation.

Encourage customers to leave a review. Many people won’t bother to leave a review unless something goes wrong and they want to vent. It won’t even occur to them. So, if someone is thrilled with their experience, do your best to harness that happiness and goodwill immediately. Ask for an online review and send them the link to the review site you’d like them to use. If they don’t do it within a week, remind them – nicely. If they still don’t do it, let it go. You don’t want to be a pest. Many review sites also have widgets you can add to your own website or social media pages through which you can share existing reviews and encourage customers to write theirs.

According to one survey, out of 74% of consumers who were asked for feedback, 68% of left a business review.

But never offer an incentive for the review. Sites like Tripadvisor prohibit this because it “can hinder the validity and accuracy of reviews.” Businesses caught doing this will be penalized.

Use reputation management and review tracking software. Use available software tools to request and monitor reviews, so you can take appropriate action.

Be excellent. An exceptional customer service experience that is beyond reproach will help garner good reviews when combined with a request for one. Be the best out there and give no reason for anyone to say anything bad about you.

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Spa Executive magazine is published by Book4Time, the world’s most innovative spa, salon, wellness, and activity management software. Learn more at Book4Time.com