“A passionate belief in your business and your personal objectives can make all the difference between success and failure. If you aren't proud of what you’re doing, why should anybody else be?” Richard Branson
Consumers can rate almost everything online today; books, salons, restaurants, hotels and even doctors. Whereas reviews for hotels tend to focus on location, amenities, comfort and price, reviews for salons and clinics may include ease of booking an appointment, décor, price, knowledge, expertise and even outcomes of treatments and services.
Clients are more plugged in and, if we're not careful, can change the salon and go salon shopping. This could be for many reasons, including better service, better products, better treatments, lower cost, location, likability etc.
I would say that the idea of online reputation is still relatively new but it is rapidly taking on increasing importance. Social media and online reviews are now considered critical success factors for therapists and salons in light of the new consumer behaviour and the value reviews have taken on. I put it to you, therefore, that they are crucial tools for keeping your clinic on the cutting edge.
Monitoring your brand online
I already discussed at length what your brand means. Relying solely on word of mouth marketing may not cut it for all. We need to reach new clients. Review and rating sites rely on public information to populate their profiles and your profile will exist whether you initiate it or not.
In fact, you need to be vigilant because in many cases public information is wrong or outdated and the range of possible errors is vast. Your clinic may be mislabelled or categorised incorrectly; the name may be spelt wrong, qualifications may be incorrect, and even the location may be wrong. All of these errors can result in lost clients.
7 Essential Steps to Check your Online Reputation
- Find your own online listings on all relevant top rating and review sites within and outside your market.
- Update and complete your online listings and assign someone to repeat this exercise every 3-6 months.
- Become an active participant in the rating and review process.
- Set up Google alerts for your name and salon/clinic names, including obvious misspelled versions to monitor the web for unflattering posts and mentions
- Be proactive about engaging with clients to encourage them to post reviews on the sites that matter to your clinic
- Take good care of clients and resolve conflicts early.
- If and when they arise, try to bury negative comment with positive content so that these posts are not the first thing that comes up.
Updating Online Listings
Most rating and review sites allow you to claim your information and make updates. Hunt down every listing that you can. You want all the information about your practice to be as accurate and up to date as possible. Whenever possible, add hyperlinks to your website and social pages for ease of clients doing a review for you.
Having accurate listings does several important things for your clinic.
It helps to improve your website's ranking on search engines and increases the prominence of your placement in online searches.
It also allows you to monitor what is being said about your salon or clinic so that you can respond or mitigate any negative comments.
The process of owning your listings will take some work in the beginning but it will be worth it when your online reputation improves and new clients contact you for an appointment.
Online Reputation Checklist
- Assign a staff member to manage the process and work with your web team for external support as needed.
- List all the relevant sites and platforms that apply to your clinic/salon.
- Conduct a Google search at specific intervals using your name, the names of all the therapists in your clinic and the clinic's name.
- Return to each site periodically after submitting updates to make sure that your changes have been made.
- Set a regular date on your calendar to check back for new reviews and ratings (weekly, bi-monthly, monthly)
- Look into directories to make sure you have a listing in relevant platforms and that is up to date
Ratings and Reviews
”Downplaying the impact of client reviews has on your salon is akin to burying your head in the proverbial sand”
A decade or so ago, one unhappy client might tell a few of their friends about it. Today, one unhappy client can literally broadcast their displeasure to all their fans and followers in a matter of seconds and that can spread like wildfire. Those fans and followers can share this displeasure with their own fans and followers and so on. So once that unhappy client presses the send button the message is out there ……. for life. All it takes is one person to share it and the rest is history.
In an online universe dominated by search engines, reviews are among the first things prospective clients will see when searching for information. They may even be exposed to reviews even if they aren't looking for them. This is not something that is going to go away. Consumer reviews are here to stay for every service and product and will only get more important in the future.
Your current and future clients are online reading what others have to say about you. The challenge is that a small number of people may be influencing what others think of you. To stay vigilant, you must listen to what people are saying about you and be part of the conversation. You also need to encourage your happy clients to post reviews in an ethical way by avoiding any implication of incentives or impropriety.
We are all understandably nervous about the impact of negative reviews. A few negative or not so glowing reviews will not cause your salon to shut down. And some feel that if you only have 5* reviews, this can come across as fishy.
Consumers are getting wiser to the process of reviews as well and much more likely to checkout multiple sites to learn about a therapist or clinic they are considering. Thus, having a good profile on ranking on one site may not overcome a less positive ranking on another site.
I will be continuing this live feed add another date with reputation management strategies, how to get posts taken down and strategies for generating 5 star reviews.