Boost your online reputation by optimizing customer reviews

Danielle Easton
8 min read
One of the most effective—and free!—ways to make your business stand out comes directly from your customers. In her latest post, Staci Alden of Alden Fitness Solutions reveals how to maximize customer feedback and use it to boost your online reputation and reach.

One of the most effective—and free!—ways to make your business stand out comes directly from your customers. In her latest post, Staci Alden of Alden Fitness Solutions reveals how to maximize customer feedback and use it to boost your online reputation and reach.

Think about the last time you shopped for a large purchase or something you knew little about. As you comparison-shopped, where did you start searching, and how influenced were you by the reviews of the product or service you sought? 

Your potential clients are influenced by reviews now more than ever. Customer reviews build much more credibility and trust for consumers than anything a business can say about itself. 

Customer reviews build much more credibility and trust for consumers


Read further for strategies to optimize attention on sites like Google and Facebook, how to manage bad feedback, develop a stellar referral strategy, and explore the community management tool that can help your facility do it all!

 

Google, Facebook, and SEO

While collecting and sharing testimonials on your facility website is important, your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is essential in today’s world.

According to fitsmallbusiness.com, a staggering 91.6% of all global searches happen on Google, making it the dominant search engine as of December 2023. Google reviews, in particular, can play a big part in the success of your SEO strategy and how well your website ranks for your target search terms. The search engine’s algorithm uses customer reviews to help determine where a website should rank in search results. Just as a potential customer uses reviews to decide whether or not to make a purchase, Google uses them to decide whether or not to rank your website (among other things). 

Customer using reviews to decide whether or not to make a purchase


When determining how to rank your website, Google will look for various factors, such as a high star rating or mentioning long-form keywords in reviews. Google reviews play a vital role in local SEO and targeting local users. The platform uses three key factors when ranking websites for local search terms: relevance, distance, and prominence. 

So, for example, if a user searches for “Barre classes in Los Angeles”, Google will aim to display websites that:

  1. Offer barre classes
  2. Are based in Los Angeles
  3. Have positive Google reviews 


This means a studio with multiple positive Google reviews could easily outrank a competitor with fewer reviews, even if the studio is closer to the user. 

Google looks for:

  • High star ratings
  • Mention of long-form keywords
  • Recency
  • Responses to reviews


While Google is the search engine powerhouse, Facebook makes things personal. When someone reviews your business on Facebook, it shows up on your business page, but how else do these powerful recommendations propel your business? The biggest benefit of earning a Facebook recommendation is that the reviewer’s entire network can see that they recommend your business. It’s a public declaration saying, “I trust this business, they do good work, and you should consider them too.”

While Google is the search engine powerhouse, Facebook makes things personal. A Facebook review is a public declaration saying, “I trust this business and you should consider them too.”


The friends, family, and personal connections of this person who sees that declaration most likely have similar interests and values. There’s a good chance that if someone were searching for your business and saw that their friend/acquaintance had recommended your company, they would:

  1. Be more likely to try your facility because they can see that someone they know uses your services.
  2. Likely make for a new potential customer as they share demographics and psychographics similar to their friend.

Seeking positive reviews in strategic places like Google and Facebook is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to word-of-mouth marketing. How you manage bad feedback and encourage your biggest fans to refer others personally takes your reputation to the next level.

How you manage bad feedback takes your reputation to the next level


Managing bad feedback

While sites like Google and Facebook make sharing positive feedback easy, sharing negative feedback is just as easy. Response time and transparency are key in the case of negative reviews. When ranking websites, Google factors in positive and negative customer reviews.

Response time and transparency are key in the case of negative reviews


Unfortunately, you can’t delete negative reviews, but you can report them if they are spam or offensive. The best way to combat the impact of these reviews is to quickly show you’ve read the feedback and are doing something about it. 

Here my steps to addressing and responding to negative feedback:

  • Thank the customer for sharing their thoughts.
  • Address complaints directly and concisely.
  • Seek more specifics if it is something you truly want or feel the need to address.
  • Respond and thank the customer again if more information is shared.
  • Follow up once action has been taken.

When responding to negative feedback, it’s important to avoid:

  • Getting defensive or personal.
  • Overexplaining policies or reasoning.
  • Providing excuses or assumptions.


Those steps may seem like a lot, but remember that Google factors in response time and the quantity of communication about a company. So, by taking the above steps, you’re not only taking action on the issue but also boosting your ranking.

Unfortunately, you can’t delete negative reviews, but you can report them if they are spam or offensive.


Referral strategy

Now that we’ve covered the value of positive reviews, how can we receive more of them? According to Forbes.com, 77% of clients are willing to leave a customer review when asked, but reaching out to hundreds of clients as soon as they’ve tried a service can seem daunting. This is why automating the process of asking for reviews is essential.

Referral programs are a great way for existing members to bring family and friends to try your facility


Automation can be set up through email campaigns, SMS, or push notifications on dedicated landing pages. Ensure the tools you use to ask for reviews allow you to view reports to assess where improvement is needed and identify your biggest fans. Identifying the clients who love you the most helps retain them by recognizing and rewarding their commitment to your brand. It also helps you target the clients most likely to provide referrals.

Here are some important steps and suggestions when it comes to an effective referral program:

  1. Develop a clear reward system for referrals year-round. 
  2. Remind your entire client pool of the referral program regularly.
  3. Target outreach and specific referral reminders at the clients you’ve recognized as your biggest fans. 
  4. Host the occasional free events and get-togethers where clients are encouraged to bring non-client friends and family to try out the space and community for free. Don’t forget to collect everyone’s information to follow up about joining your facility!

Identify the clients who love you the most - they're the most likely to provide referrals.


As much as we’d like our clients to always have reviews and referrals at the front of their minds, it helps to remind them of how important their opinions and relationships are for the success of your facility.

Summer Checklist (2)-1

 

Staying on top of reviews

TeamUp’s Community Happiness tool is a tangible example of how your software can work for your facility in terms of reviews and referrals. This tool automates personalized email outreach, streamlines the review-leaving process for clients, uses AI to help craft comments with an impact, enhances your online reputation, and allows you to respond, act, and analyze feedback. 

  1. This tool allows business owners to build customizable automated emails prompting clients to submit reviews. The email is crafted specifically for an individual client, addressing them by name and stating the class they participated in, as well as the date and time of the session. It’s communication that’s personal, but that doesn’t take up any of your time to send.

  2. When it comes to leaving reviews, there’s an integrated AI tool that speeds up the feedback process for your clients and boosts the detail and quality of the comments, which has a positive impact for your business. By defining a list of keywords shown to your community as prompts and letting them create an AI-generated review that they can then tweak, they’ll craft impactful comments in a flash.

  3. The AI tool is also a secret weapon in your SEO strategy. Thanks to the term suggestion feature, your clients will include long-form keywords in their reviews that will help rank your website in Google.

  4. If a review is 4 or 5 stars, these clients are immediately prompted to share it on Google or Facebook boosting your exposure to ideal clients and SEO as shared above. 

  5. Once reviews are posted, Community Happiness offers a response feature for business owners and managers to publicly thank clients for positive reviews and limit the damage of negative ones on external sites directly from the TeamUp page. The added automation of only asking clients to share 4 or 5-star reviews makes it more likely that positive reviews are made public, leaving you to handle any negative reviews within the safety of your company’s direct communication with the client. 

Fancy campaigns or trending social media tactics only scratch the surface when it comes to attracting the attention of new customers. A prospective client is almost always going to research what your current clients say about your facility before deciding to take any action on actually stepping inside. Take time to understand how to leverage reviews (good or bad) in the right places by asking your clients for help and making it easy with the strategies and tools we’ve shared above. Utilizing automation and integration makes everything easy and boosts the effect your client reviews have on whether new clients find and engage with you! 

 

Check out our guide on Channeling Customer Feedback for Growth for more tips and strategies to boost your online reputation and attract more customers.

 

Staci is committed to helping fitness managers and club operators elevate their programs, instructors, and leadership. As an experienced consultant and strategic planner for digital and in-person offerings, her clients range from large luxury health clubs and international companies to small studios. She has designed world-class studios on a tight budget, launched signature formats, and built turnkey solutions for enhancing systems, leaders, and talent. Staci is also a master instructor and established presenter, podcaster, writer, and YouTube influencer, regularly interviewing and collaborating with industry thought leaders.

Click here for more information on working with Staci, or email her at contact@stacialden.com for more information.

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