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Online Reviews: The Bane and the Boost to Your Business

Someone’s opinion is not fact, nor is it quantifiable


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Your reputation matters, both as a business owner and as a business. Fortunately, and unfortunately, online reviews are immediate, direct, and although mostly helpful, they are often untrue or simply someone’s opinion.

Read that again: Someone’s opinion. It is not fact, nor is it quantifiable.

As a business owner, I strive to provide the absolute best client experience possible. This is a lot of pressure to put on employees, but in the service industry, it is not an option. It is how the business succeeds, grows and ultimately beats out the competition.

We have a business partner who built a thriving business with a foundation of extraordinarily loyal clientele. Her lash extension business is about attention to detail, integrity and delivering way more to the client than what is expected or typical.

But even her team cannot please everyone all of the time. Neither can ours.

Welcome to those harsh, surprising negative reviews.

Our first negative review stated, “The TV is too large, and the owner talks too much.” I cried. “How on earth could someone attack me like this?! I don’t talk too much; I thoroughly educate everyone that walks through my door. And the TV? Everyone loves watching Planet Earth on that TV.”

I couldn’t sleep. I panicked. That was three years ago, and then I ran directly to my business partner.

She smiled, handed me a cocktail and told me that I would never please everyone. She told me that my business wasn’t for everyone. She told me that some people wouldn’t like me. This was the honest truth I needed to hear, especially in the months leading up to opening my first business. I think of this as the moment I grew a backbone.

The trick is for business owners to stay focused on business and not focus on opinions penned on the internet. Do not obsess over every review and never take them personally. Set notifications to monitor and respond promptly to all reviews, good and bad. Do not argue or fuel the fire, and do not admit to being wrong when you aren’t.

Remember that public opinions (reviews) reside on a public platform. Others will ultimately see "who's the good guy, who's the bad guy."

Saying “thank you” goes a long way and it’s the least you can do for someone taking the time to help you. 

Honest consumer feedback is important. Business owners need to know if appointments start late, if an employee exhibits inappropriate behavior or if another client is offensive. Problems should be addressed immediately and often calm and appreciative responses remedy any potential distress.

Positive feedback means the world to a business owner. It fuels business owners for success and motivates us all to continue to do even better. Business owners want and need this form of communication. If the poor service, treatment, taste, or experience was worth informing fellow patrons and businesses of, respectful correspondence helps.

One of our first 5-star reviews said, "The spa felt nurturing and beautiful, but everything remains clinically professional. The nurses are top notch, and visiting is one of my favorite self-care rituals. I feel amazing after the services. I wouldn’t go anywhere else.”

That feedback fed our souls for a week. Any consumer who posts authentic, great reviews is gold; so is any consumer who directly contacts a business owner with legitimate feedback.

Digital platforms such as Google and Yelp serve as both a blessing and a curse to the business owner in today’s world. Business owners should view these vehicles as an advantage to engage current or potential clients and to mitigate problems. Businesses can also use these tools to compare feedback, allowing for analysis of how a business looks and behaves in the market share.

Online reviews offer anonymity and a venue for unleashing all sorts of unhappiness that often has little or nothing to do with a business. Take a deep breath when a volatile, one-star review shows up, if it ever does. Walk away for a while and confer with a trusted colleague or partner.

We did not replace that television complained about, and I have not stopped communicating and engaging with clients. A seasoned business owner learns that online reviews can provide legitimate, authentic and helpful feedback. And if it isn't that, it doesn’t need to affect any business owner's day.

Amy Dickerson (left) and Katie Wafer are the co-owners of Cherry Creek Live Love Lash and Hydrate IV Bar Wellness Spa. They alternately author a monthly column.

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