What's your number one source of new clients? For many salons, spas, and barber shops, the majority of customers come as a result of others–through online reviews and word-of-mouth referrals. Your existing customers are not only the primary source; they are also the most cost-effective.
Despite this, some salons and spas are still hesitant to ask for reviews. Sure, there is some uncertainty as reviews are dependent on those submitting them. While no one likes being criticized, the reality is that no business can ever be perfect.
Besides, reviews will happen whether you encourage them or not. You might as well take the opportunity to reinforce your brand messaging and pave the way for growth–even when the review seems negative.
When do people talk about a product or service the most? Typically, they express their thoughts when they are surprised. This occasionally takes place in the form of a rant after their product/service falls short of their expectations. However, clients will also rave about their experience if it genuinely wows them. So if you want to get more positive reviews without nudging clients, step up your game and go the extra mile for them!
All it takes, for many of your customers, is a simple request. Most people are willing to do this if they know it is important to you. Explain that your main source of new clients is from sites like Yelp, Google, and Facebook.
Start with your most loyal customers who have been with you for years. When they express their gratitude and delight after an appointment, ask them to write a quick review. As you get more comfortable with the review process, you can include links on email receipts or send follow-up text messages requesting feedback.
Listen & Learn
Be open to criticism and consider the client's perspective. Don't try to justify every action or decision you made. Is there something constructive you can take out of the review? Conversely, what do clients like about the services they received or about the salon experience as a whole? Take note of what changes need to be made and which areas should not be tampered with.
While some details may seem minor and may not need to be addressed based on one review, be sure to also track it so you can later look back for trends. If multiple people find it important enough to mention, it should be addressed.
Whether positive or negative, welcome all feedback and show your appreciation. As a service-oriented business, it's important to be approachable and show that you can solve the problems that clients bring to you. Reviews provide consumers with a window into how you operate and if you live up to your brand promises.
Beyond a "thank you," you can even reward reviewers with bonus loyalty points or by having a monthly draw for gift cards. It's important to reward honest reviews, not only the ones with five-star ratings and glowing recommendations. By encouraging genuine feedback, readers will form realistic expectations that you can meet and you can also take this information to improve as a business. (Having a perfect score every time will raise questions about the legitimacy of all the reviews.)
If there is a valid concern that you can address, include it in your response after thanking the client. Show the public that you value feedback and are constantly striving to improve. When dealing with complaints, present a potential solution and ask for a second chance. If necessary to retain their business, you can offer a gift card or a free follow-up appointment to fix the issue. In cases where the problem is resolved to the client's satisfaction, you can ask him or her to consider revising the review as well.
While it's important to respond quickly, don't rush your response either. It's better to take some time, cool off (if necessary), and craft a carefully-worded reply. Consider how your comments will be received by the public. Remember to be approachable and transparent, not defensive. Sometimes, all clients want is for their opinions to matter, so don't simply dismiss it.
Depending on the situation, you may want to follow up privately (although you should still make a public response to acknowledge the comment and show that you are working to resolve it). Send a direct message or, better yet, call the client if you can link the review to someone in your customer database.
Don't let the uncertainty of reviews scare you from them. It's human nature to make a mistake from time to time, but the important thing is to learn from it. No matter what you do, you won't be able to please or retain every salon client. Let customers rant and try not to take it personally. Instead, respond to their comments, offer a suitable solution, and move on.
Similarly, don't get complacent if you get one five-star review after another. To stay competitive, always be looking to improve, be strategic, and be aware of market trends.