While online reviews can be a dream come true as an easy way to increase your client base for your massage therapy practice, it can also prove to be a nightmare if you make common mistakes regarding them. Here’s a look at what not to do regarding online reviews:

** Don’t mistakenly think they are not important.**

You run a client-centric business. While you might also sell scented vanilla candles and minimalistic music CDs, the underpinning of your business is the service you provide as a massage therapist. In a 2013 BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey, consumers shared that 79% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.  This statistic affirms that both positive and negative reviews have a hefty influence on whether or not a customer will try a new company, product, or service. Positive reviews may bring brand new clients to your massage therapy practice while negative reviews can stop them from even contacting you for additional information about your services. Consumers are forming these opinions quickly, reading less than 7 reviews before drawing conclusions; therefore it’s essential that you know what people are saying about your business. Review your reviews. Stay on top of what others are writing about your business!

** Don’t be a passive bystander.**

Whether the review is neutral, positive, or negative, respond to the comments posted. Provide non-defensive, professional responses, explanations, and/or feedback to each post. As the owner of any customer-focused business, you’re bound to get a complaint or two throughout the years you are in business. The massage therapy industry is no exception. While most of the time a negative review will come from someone who is already having a bad day (and you just happened to be next on their schedule), you still need to respond in a professional manner ~ so don’t respond while you are angry!  Thank the reviewer for taking the time to post a comment and then address their concern or complaint and write about how you solved it. If you weren’t privy to any problem until you read it online ~ explain that. Thank them for bringing it to your attention and provide a solution.

** Don’t forget to ask.**

There’s nothing wrong with asking clients to take a moment to write a review about his/her experience at your massage therapy practice. Many, many companies in various industries do it ~ including doctors!  In fact, with the change in healthcare these days, a doctor’s compensation and earning potential will be affected by his/her patient reviews and good clinical outcomes. Research shows that consumers tend to develop more trust in the business when there are a lot of reviews. Encourage customers to leave reviews!

** Don’t take negative reviews too personally.**

If something significant happened during a client visit that would warrant a negative review, chances are you are already aware of it and handled it at your practice. If, however, you discover online that one of your customers was upset about the long wait, or that you were out of tea, or that he/she was cold during the session, don’t let it ruin your day. Acknowledge it, address it, and Fuhgettaboutit! While it’s common knowledge that most customers are more likely to take the time to report a bad experience than leave a compliment, remember that you can learn from negative reviews and implement changes to avoid having the same mistakes made twice!

** Don’t immediately respond to a negative review.**

Never respond angrily to a negative review; it will only add fuel to the fire. Read the review and then respond later ~ when you can be objective.  Being professional and courteous will show potential customers and other readers that you are not only fully engaged in your business, but also that you take every person’s feedback into consideration without becoming defensive.

** Don’t write a rave review about yourself.**

A fake review is just that, fake. Many review sites can detect the fake reviews and will end up removing them. Although tempting, this act must be avoided. It not only breaks the spirit of the review sites, but also does not help your business in the long run because you will never be able to draw any conclusions from fictitious reviews.

** Don’t pay for good reviews.**

Offering money, goods, discounts, freebies, and any other products for a good review is bribery; this is unethical and should never take place. There is, however, an exception to this!  If you want to reward your customers who take the time to write an honest review of their experience at your massage therapy practice ~ well, that’s different!  By thanking them with a gift you are simply telling them how much you appreciate them taking the time to write their review, vs bribing them to write only what you want! Chances are, the review will be awesome still!


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