Business Management

Spring Clean Your Online Presence in 3 Easy Steps

Is your online reputation hurting your business? If you haven’t been managing your cyber-presence, try these three steps for making  it squeaky clean.

Now that review and feedback sites are readily available at consumers’ fingertips, it’s especially important for nail techs and nail salon owners to pay attention. Consumers are eager to give and accept feedback about goods and services, and clients are relying more and more on online reviews to make their decisions about which nail salon to visit. Moreover, research shows that a satisfied client tells on average only 2.5.people about a positive experience, while an unhappy client tells an average of 16.5 people, maybe more, according to Jason Olsen, founder of Image Studios 360.“Consider the impact of an upset or unhappy client who leaves a review online,” says Olsen. “How many people will see this? It could be literally thousands and thousands of people. And in most cases, this review will never go away.” Here’s how to find out where you stand, clean up any messes, and shore up your profiles. Roll up your sleeves and get started!

Step One: Take Inventory

Where is the first place one should start to clean up one’s online presence and do damage control? Search your name or business name at major search engines and on review sites, and study what comes up. “Yelp and Google first, then any other review sites after that,” advises Julie Mahloch, founder and CEO of Bloom.com. “The most important sites for nail techs and nail salons to manage are Yelp, Google reviews, and Facebook Reviews.”

Facebook ratings (if you have a public Facebook page for your business) don’t show up often on Google searches, but when a client is on Facebook and she stumbles across your page she will be able to view them there, so it’s important to attend to them. According to Olsen, other sites for reviews include CitySearch, YellowPages.com, Angie’s List, WhitePages.com, Four Square, Superpages.com, Dexknows.com, hotfrog.com, Kudzu, and YellowBot.com.

“The mistake most business owners make is to get upset when they see a negative review,” says Mahloch. “But reviews are a great opportunity to learn about your customers and the service experience you’re providing.”

Do yourself a favor and take a look at your worst review online. Before your blood pressure raises, take a breath and think of these questions:
a. What can you learn from it?
b. What is the client’s true concern?
c. What needs were not met?
d. What could you have done differently?
e. How can you resolve this issue successfully?

Step Two: Clean Up Bad Results

Once you’ve mentally answered the questions above, it’s time to prepare to respond. But first, it’s important to give yourself a cooling off period in order to gain some objectivity.

“It’s always a professional courtesy to respond to a negative review of your business, but I’d never respond right away,” says Laura Merzetti of Scratch My Back Nail Studio in Ajax, Ontario, Canada. “I’d let it sink in for a day or two before I posted a response. I also wouldn’t get into a back-and-forth with the reviewer. Regardless of whether I think the reviewer is right or wrong, she still has an opinion and I need to let her know I’ve heard it. How I respond also affects how other people will view me and my business."

When it comes time to reply, always greet the reviewer politely, thank her for taking the time to post, and then apologize that her experience was less than satisfactory. Let her know you are committed to resolving her issue and invite her to contact your manager or you personally by leaving an email and/or phone contact in the response. Forget about excuses, and never respond to a negative review with emotion or an “explanation” of why the client is wrong. You won’t change her opinion; you’ll only make it worse. Olsen provides the following example of a professional response:

“Hello Sarah. Thank you for taking time to leave us feedback on your recent visit to XYZ Nail Salon. I apologize that your experience was not satisfactory. We strive to create incredible client experiences, but we seemed to have missed the mark with you and I want to fix that. I would really love it if you would call me personally at 555-555-1234 so I can hear more about what happened and how I can resolve it for you. I look forward to hearing from you.”

Regardless of how negative or nasty the review was, a response such as the above not only appeases the upset client, it also speaks volumes to the people reading the review; they will be greatly impacted by the level of professionalism and maturity shown in your response. “It tells them you’re real, that you care, and that you’re capable of receiving feedback,” says Olsen. “The response you craft to a negative review can be as powerful and impactful as a positive online review.”

Miyuki Ueda of MYU Beauty in Irvine, Calif., replied to a customer who was not satisfied and wrote a negative review of her services on Yelp. “I apologized that I made her unhappy, and I offered a free treatment,” says Ueda. “She was happy to see that her opinion mattered to me. She was not able to come back to get the free treatment, but she wrote a new review and gave me four stars because of my response.”

Updated reviews are key. Olsen emphasizes that it’s important to ask your client to update her review after you’ve taken the necessary steps to make her happy. “Most clients will gladly update if asked; most will not update the review if you don’t.”

What about having negative items completely removed from a search engine such as Google? Is it easy for an individual to clean up her online presence by herself? Unfortunately, there is no easy way; once a review is posted it remains online for the life of your business. “It’s difficult to clean up negative content once it’s been posted on review sites such as Yelp and Google,” says Mahloch. “It’s best to respond to reviews and be actively engaged in your online presence. If you have a large amount of negative content about your business, it may be helpful to call in a professional.”

Olsen agrees that Google reviews are hard to remove, just like Yelp reviews, and the only reviews that come down quickly are fake positive reviews that Google catches. But he advises caution if hiring a professional. “Only you can solicit your clients effectively; when a third party is hired they can help with your efforts, but never let them contact your clients to obtain reviews or you’ll destroy the trust and connection you’ve worked hard to build with your clients, “ he says. “Even though it’s more work to solicit reviews yourself, you’ll have strong results and it won’t cost you anything at all. Focus on getting your own Yelp and Google reviews — these pay dividends for life!”

Step Three: Put Your Best Foot Forward

The best advice for a positive online presence is to be proactive in putting out information on your business and not letting the negative reviews get you down. “Don’t be alarmed if you get a negative review,” says Olsen. “Most people have enough common sense to see through a negative review that is riddled with emotion, and the person comes across as unreasonable and out of touch. Not having any negative reviews can actually look suspicious (Are these fake? Did they pay for these?, etc.). Although negative reviews can sting, most consumers trust positive online reviews more when there is one or more negative reviews (although too many negatives ones reverse this effect). When faced with a slew of negative reviews, focus on getting more reviews from every client you have, Olsen advises. Getting positive reviews will help push the negative ones down the list.

Olsen advises sticking with Yelp, Google, and Facebook reviews and devoting all your energy to dominating these sites with reviews from your clients. Upload recent photos of your work, photos of you and your staff, and photos of the salon. This helps you appear like a real, living, breathing company with character and personality.

So how do you ask clients to leave positive Yelp reviews? Build on the rapport you have with your client. Ask her if she minds if you post a before and after photo of her beautiful nails on Instagram. Tell her you’ve been trying to gather some online feedback from your clients and ask if she wouldn’t mind sharing her experience on Yelp to help others know how you’ve helped her. Offer her a discount on her next service for doing so. To help clients navigate the process you can give her a printed postcard with instructions on how to leave her feedback online.

“Remember, people love to be asked for help in ways that aren’t terribly burdensome to them,” says Olsen. “We also love to give advice any chance we get, so when you ask your client to share her experience with others about your salon, you’re giving her the opportunity to do just that. Make it your routine to end every service with the request for online feedback on Yelp (or Google). You won’t be disappointed with the results. You’ll be surprised how much your clients love you and your work.”

To download the “Yelp Me Out” postcard, visit www.nailsmag.com/yelpmeout.

The Power of Online Reviews

If you aren’t actively inviting your clients to leave you online reviews, the only ones who will are the ones who are upset or unhappy about their service. Here are 10 statistics on the online review revolution from Jason Olsen of Image Studios 360.

1. 97% who made a purchase based on an online review found the review to be accurate (Comscore/The Kelsey Group, Oct. 2007)
2. 92% have more confidence in information found online than they do in anything from a salesclerk or other source (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 2009)
3. 90% of online consumers trust recommendations from people they know; 70% trust unknown users, 27% trust experts, 14% trust advertising, 8% trust celebrities (Econsultancy, July 2009, Erik Qualman, Socialnomics)
4. 75% of people don’t believe that salons tell the truth in advertisements (Yankelovich)
5. 70% consult reviews or ratings before purchasing (BusinessWeek, Oct. 2008)
6. Seven in 10 who read reviews share them with friends, family and colleagues, thus amplifying their impact (Deloitte & Touche, 2011)
7. 51% of clients use the Internet even before making an appointment at a salon (Verdict Research, May 2009)
8. 45% say they are influenced a fair amount or a great deal by reviews on social sites from people they follow (46% say reviews in newspapers or magazines influence them). (Harris Poll, April 2010)
9. 34% have turned to social media to air their feelings about a company; 56% of them express dissatisfaction, and 17% share companies or products they like. (Harris Poll, April 2010)
10. Why do they share? 46% feel they can be brutally honest on the Internet saying things they would never say in person. 38% aim to influence others when they express their preferences online (Harris Poll, April 2010)

Jason Olsen is the founder of Image Studios 360, a studio salon concept based out of Salt Lake City, Utah, which is now franchising nationwide. For more salon business tips visit the Image Studios 360 blog: www.imagestudios360.com/blog.

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