Why You Need to Pay Attention to Online Review Sites

Someone has attacked your online reputation. It's a scenario that salon owners and independent stylists dread and it always seems to follow the same pattern.

You're in the middle of a week filled with cutting and coloring. You're collaborating with clients and creating walking works of art.

At the end of the day you're tired but satisfied. You got to express the passion that got you behind that chair in the first place. Then you discover that a nameless someone left a terrible review of you somewhere online.

As a stylists, you have a thin margin of error when it comes to your reputation. What people think about your services can make or break your business.

Before the internet, a customer with a good cut or color could be counted on to tell three of her friends. Unfortunately, a customer who left your shop unhappy was probably going to vent about your service to at least seven people.

With the explosion of review sites like Yelp!, CitySearch and Insider Pages, customers are no longer limited to telling just their friends what they think about your services. They can tell their friends, their friends' friends and thousands of other people they've never met.

The Review Economy | A Shift In Search

People ask search engines billions of questions every day. However, the most common type of question is probably a variation of "Where should I spend my money?"

In the 2013 Local Search Ranking Factors Survey, industry professionals consistently identified online reviews as having an impact on how Google and the other search engines answer that question.

Bad reviews can stop your listing from being seen in the search engine results. So when you get a negative review, you want it fixed and you want it fixed fast.
Online Reputation
Image courtesy Moz.com

Type  Online Reputation Management (ORM) into your favorite search engine.  You'll find that it's a pretty popular search phrase. There are thousands of articles and hundreds of companies all ready to help you repair your online reputation. ORM isn't new. There's a pretty well established playbook for negative reviews.

Online Reputation Repair By The Numbers

online reputation1. Ignore the review.This is probably the hardest course of action to follow. It feels too much like sticking your head in the sand.  But sometimes it makes more sense not to respond.
Two examples would be when you're angry or when it's an obvious hack job that doesn't match the rest of your review profile. Responding in those instances is a recipe for digging an even deeper hole and making things much worse.

2. Respond to the review directly.online reputationThere are occasions when responding directly is warranted.  If you were having a bad day and actually did everything that was listed in the online review. Then the best thing you can do is to own it.
Your online reputation comes out much better when people see you admit that you were off your game and are working to correct your error. It may leave a vinegar after-taste but "I apologize, let me fix it" is a very powerful statement.

3. Try to remove or bury the review.online reputationRemoving negative reviews can be next to impossible. That's why many independent stylists rely on experienced ORM specialists.
When a review site refuses to remove a negative review, one technique is to generate a lot of positive reviews.  This brute force approach attempts to move the negative reviews off the front page and out of view.

Online Reputation Management | Fixing The Wrong Problems

If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. ORM companies exist to solve a very specific problem. Deal with negative reviews and increase your online reputation score.

Using that yard stick, success is pretty easy to quantify. But success for your reputation management company isn't necessarily the same as success for you. If your focus is solely on your online reputation score, you could easily miss a much bigger opportunity.

Bad Reviews Aren't The Problem. It's Your System.

If you're a successful stylist, you already have a good reputation. Without it, your chair would go empty and you'd soon be out of business.

However, you may have noticed that your online reputation rarely matches your offline reputation. Your online reputation consists of the views and opinions of that small group of people who know you, have an opinion and have the energy to go through the process of posting that opinion online.

Usually the people with that kind of energy are those few people on the far ends of the bell curve. Your ecstatic supporters and those who are extremely upset with you. That's a very thin, very skewed picture of your business. Unfortunately that's your online reputation.

Online ReputationThe voice that's missing from this online picture belongs to all those customers in the middle. These customers are the life blood of your business. Your success depends on this silent majority in more ways than one.

First, they vote with their dollars. These are the customers who repeatedly patronize your business. They're not overly emotional about it. They simply come back again and again because they like you or they like what you do. You're the best stylist for their needs.

They can also break you of the habit of reacting to negative reviews in a haphazard fashion. Routinely collecting customer feedback from this group will give you the information you need to fine tune your business and eliminate many negative reviews before they ever get online.

Online reviews will continue to grow in importance.  The most successful stylists will use systems that remove the difficulty of leaving online reviews and treat collecting reviews as just another non eventful business system.

For these stylists, ORM won't be focused solely on negative reviews. It will be concerned with getting their online reputation to match their offline reality.


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