March 2013

Charlene Abretske

Beyond Your Chair| Jayne Morehouse


What You Can Learn from Online Reviews to Improve Your Business

Have you met my friend, Luna? Luna is your 30-something target client.

She loves beauty, is always willing to try new services and products and she shares what she likes — and doesn't — via her social media.

Not completely satisfied with any salon she's visited, she shops around for the perfect cut and color — as well as an enjoyable experience. She loves to try new nail polish, nail art and lip colors, and she subscribes to several of the "Beauty Boxes," including GlossyBox. Luna prowls the malls and stores like Ulta and Sephora, as well as internet sites like HauteLook and LivingSocial, for special deals on what's new, hot and fabulous.

She "checks in" via Yelp at each store/salon she visits, then writes reviews and posts photos on both Yelp and her Facebook page. It's a ton of free exposure for those beauty professionals, businesses and products that delight her — and it's very important feedback for those who don't.

I know what Luna loves from a stylist and salon experience, as well as those things that happen during the course of a service that ensure she never returns — even when she loves the technical part of the service. I also know when she's tried a new restaurant or is shopping for jeans or a fashionable new pair of eye glasses.

Now here's the twist. I've never met Luna. In fact, I'm on the opposite side of the country. We connected over a common interest on Facebook, and then our shared love of beauty.

The bottom line is that I know everything I've shared with you from Luna's Facebook page and the reviews she likes on Yelp. It's very easy for you to access similar information about all of your clients and potential clients — and even to interact with those who have been disappointed in your services in order to change their minds.

Here's an example from one of Luna's reviews. "I had been thinking of going to XYZ Salon and Spa, and voila, I received a Groupon for a haircut, conditioning treatment and makeup application. The makeup was done very well, but the woman had a hyper energy, was very product sales-oriented and kept rushing and apologizing to her next client who was waiting but not looking stressed, even though I was on time. My makeup did look really good. But I can't imagine paying $47 for someone to do my makeup anyway. As for the conditioning treatment, I have no idea what that involved, but it seemed to be a regular shampoo and conditioning. Maybe she forgot to do the treatment? It was supposed to be a $25 value. As for the haircut, I love it, and I will definitely go back for another cut. I also like the big, bright space, the longer hours, and all the people I met there were really nice."

What you can learn: Education on how to win the business of new clients who try them out via online deals would be beneficial for the team. Clients don't necessarily understand all of the treatments that you offer. Explaining the process and benefits of the conditioning treatment not only would help Luna value the results, but it might have created a product sale.

Here's another review: "Super excited. My hairstylist left the business, so I was searching for somewhere new. I found this little spot in my new neighborhood, and on the recommendations of Yelpers, I gave it a shot. The stylist did a GREAT job with my haircut. I get super nervous when going to a new hairstylist because I can't really articulate how I want my hair, but she did a great job. As I was leaving, she took my photo with her iPad and put me into an app she uses to track clients. So great! No more 'how did we do this last time?' conversations. Yay!"

What you can learn: Your competition is doing something brilliant that the client truly understands and appreciates. Steal the idea, make it your own and let your clients know why it's so special.

Unfortunately, Luna posted an update a few weeks later. She had been unable to get in for her next appointment, plus when she went in for her free bang trim, she felt awkward interrupting the client who was in the stylist's chair. So in spite of LOVING her hair, she didn't go back.

So how can you benefit from this knowledge? Search for reviews of your business. Create a profile for your business if you don't have one. Encourage your clients to post honest reviews. (If the reviews look suspiciously overly positive or negative, Yelp can hide them.)

When your clients review your services and products, take that opportunity to thank them or to correct problems that you might not have even known about. Finally, use these free assets to research what other salons are doing right and wrong, and adjust your protocols to ensure you give every client the opportunity to write an amazing review that generates new clients every week for you.

Jayne Morehouse is a columnist for Stylist Newspapers and the president of Jayne & company, a full-service brand communications agency for beauty companies and salons. Follow her on Twitter @JaynePR and @BeautyIQ and connect with her on