The following is the latest guest blog entry from Greater Boston Chamber members detailing value strategies and insight for the region’s business community.
My hair is fairly simple. It has been the same cut for many years and doesn’t require a ton of expertise. That being said, I’m a loyal customer and go to the same barber every time. Recently while in the chair, I asked my stylist, who also happened to be the manager of the salon, “Do you use Yelp for your business?” Of course, she said yes; so many businesses do. She told me that they had about 40 Yelp reviews. That’s a pretty good number and should tell a pretty compelling story about the place.
I followed up by asking, “Is it safe to assume that most if not all of those 40 reviews are written by customers about their experiences with specific stylists?” She said yes. Then, I couldn’t help but ask the following: “Of those 40 reviews, how many are about a stylist who still works here?”
This question stumped her for a minute. She started to calculate and told me that somewhere around 36 were for people who DO NOT work at the salon anymore. Once she said the number she shook her head a little. I certainly didn’t already know the answer and I’m fairly sure she too had never thought about it either.
That means that 90% of her business’s reviews are inaccurate.
It also means there’s a much better chance than not that anyone who decides to go (or not to go) to this particular salon based on their Yelp page, is making that decision based on a tremendously high percentage of inaccurate information.
- Scenario 1: I read bad reviews for an employee who no longer works there. Even though that salon let that stylist go and hired someone great, I’m still not going to call. I’ll tell others to avoid you if they bring your salon up as a possible option.
- Scenario 2: I read great reviews about someone who no longer works there. I call to make my appointment and am greeted by a, “Sorry they no longer work here.” I’m likely to restart my search or start my experience at the salon with disappointment. I will not refer others to your Yelp page in the future.
Professionals, like you, have a choice.
Now, I certainly don’t know the % of inaccurate reviews for every Yelp location and I’m reasonably sure they wouldn’t all come in at 90%. However, I am sure that if you attach reviews to a company, like Yelp, instead of to the person who’s helping, like Dunwello, there’s inevitably going to be out of date and inaccurate information being presented to potential customers.
So, taking this all into heart, here are some useful lessons for retailers and other customer-facing small businesses:
- Find great pros. It’s easy to see who is the best and fits your company culture when professionals have all their recommendations and social accounts featured in one place. Use that info to recruit and retain the best talent for your customers.
- Quality over quantity. A large quantity of reviews won’t be helpful if they’re too general or reference bygone pros. Recommendations dive into the specifics of what makes your pros great. And, when you do nab top talent, be sure to bring all of their valuable referrals and recommendations with them.
- Help your pros be different. Once you’ve made sure they fit your culture and complement your business model, give your pros the chance to do their own thing. Their unique passion and skills are what grew their customer base. Support their efforts to grow their brand, as it will help yours too!
- Make every customer count. Create opportunities for building strong customer relationships. That means connecting with them on social and following up to get recommendations. Be sure to ask for their feedback and share helpful advice when you can. They’ll not only prefer you over other places available, customers will be your best marketing by referring you to others!
If I had my choice, I’d prefer “more accurate” over “less accurate” any day. Which would you choose?
Matt Lauzon is Co-Founder & CEO of Dunwello, an online community allowing consumers to identify the most trusted people in their life and highlight their strengths. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org