The importance of customer testimonials for massage businesses

We love our customers. And I am pretty sure they love us back.

customer testimonials in massageSometimes our massage customers bring us chocolates or other cute little treats (cupcakes if you are lucky or, as it happened to me, keyring anyone?). This is absolutely lovely and delightful and brings a smile to our face when it happens. It’s all about sharing the love.

Because we feel so grateful, we may feel reluctant to ask our fabulous clients for favours,  especially if they have already brought in some cupcakes. When it comes to asking for testimonials, every time I have conversations with fellow massage therapists, the general attitude is discomfort, unease, reluctance. Most massage therapists feel ashamed to ask their clients for testimonials.

They feel they are “pestering” their clients and don’t feel comfortable asking for a favour.

Yet, customer testimonials are an essential marketing tool for massage therapists: just think of those potential clients who are looking for a professional massage therapist and are checking for a practitioner’s online profile and recommendations. A new client may not pick up the phone to find out more about you. They may just browse through directories and look up 2-3 massage therapists near their work and make a decision on the basis of customer feedback on their profile from previous clients.

You will be surprised that if you ask your clients for a testimonial, you will find that many clients will be absolutely delighted to help you (because, remember, you have helped them). The worst that can happen is for one or two of them to say no, but trust me, it’s not the end of the world. There’s no harm in asking.

Let me remind you of how many times you have filled out a feedback form after a massage course or after purchasing an item in a shop or website. Leaving feedback goes hand in hand with any time of purchase. The only difference is that most feedback on shopping sites is automated. If you have an online booking facility for your massage practice, this process can be automated too.

If you are contacting a client asking for feedback, you can simply say that you only need a short  sentence or short paragraph so you are warning your client that this task will not be taking too much of your their time.

So I’m afraid, boys and girls, that you need to bite the bullet and start asking. A word of warning: if you do, please don’t send a blanket email.

This is for two reasons:

  1. your clients will recognise it’s a blanket email so not only you are not addressing them personally (and you are risking to go straight through to the spam folder), but it disincentives the client from leaving a nice testimonial because he/she thinks somebody else might be doing it already so why bother?
  2. if you are asking to leave a testimonial on a third party website where your business is listed, a sudden flood of new testimonials may look like spam or fake and the website may not publish all the testimonials your clients have taken the time to write. It has happened to fellow therapists that when they got their clients to leave a testimonial on a third party website, only a portion of those reviews were published while others were withheld.

To make the most of your testimonials, here’s a list of clever things you can do.

Only ask 2 or 3 clients at a time for a testimonial, and write an individual email to each

For example: say you have been seeing one client for pregnancy massage, one client for injury recovery with sports massage and one client for stress management with lymphatic drainage massage. For each client you devised a completely different care plan using different massage techniques and this should reflect in the testimonial. Ask each client how your massage treatments have helped them so the testimonial will actually look like a case study. This type of information about you in the public domain is like gold dust: it demonstrates not only that you are qualified in a number of techniques but also that you are proficient in applying them with great results. This serves as quality assurance in the eyes of potential new clients.

People will buy massage treatments from practitioners who can demonstrate they have helped their clients. We all know we cannot guarantee results, but if our clients are raving about our treatments, other clients will follow. If a client says you have “saved their life” it is totally fine, if it is coming from them. If you said the same on your website, you would come across as arrogant to say the least and also contravene the guidelines set by advertising standards associations internationally. Advertising standards require you to provide evidence for any claim you make in the public domain. It’s just not good form to be boasting, but if you have customer testimonials to back up a statement about the efficacy of massage, then you have the evidence.

Add your listing to 3 to 5 online directories  and send your clients a link to one of them to leave feedback

There are plenty of directories to choose from and you only want to concentrate on the ones which will bring you the best result. If you know that one of your clients is using, say, Yelp, to review restaurants, you could send them a link to your Yelp listing.

You could spend hours and hours adding your profile to numerous directories: the problem with this approach is that, every time you change your venue, you need to update several profiles. In the big scheme of things, this is not a good use of your time (then again if you have an intern or assistant, they can do that job for you).

It is better to choose a limited number of directories, so for example you could choose www.yelp.com and www.qype.com bearing in mind that you will get the occasional phone call from their sales team to upgrade to a premium listing.

There are also more specific directories for massage therapists so you can do some research and join them in your local area. Once your profile is up, you can send the link to one or two clients asking them to leave feedback on your treatments.

For example, you can add your profile on www.massamio.com and www.wahanda.com

Please note that Massamio is planning to have a feedback feature in the future; in the meantime it is still worth adding your profile to increase your chances to get found online.

Also note that Wahanda allows customer feedback on venue listings, so if you are working in a clinic or your own massage office, clients will leave their testimonials there. The venue listing is separate from your practitioner’s profile.

Try and plan your feedback requests over a period of time. You can aim to ask 2 or 3 clients each week or every two weeks. This should not feel like a chore, and the more you do it the less uncomfortable it will feel (just like anything else in life, right?)

Both Massamio and Wahanda give you the option to create online bookings for your practice. As mentioned earlier, if you choose to have online bookings, you are automating a few processes including asking for feedback.

LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) also has a feedback feature where clients can write recommendations on your work as a therapist. I wouldn’t personally bother with the “endorse skill” buttons as they would not give potential clients enough information about your professionalism and quality of your work. I compare that feature to the “poke” button on facebook aka not useful and a bit of a waste of time (and who is still throwing sheep at facebook friends anymore? In case you don’t remember, that was a feature in vintage facebook circa 2007).

When a potential client is looking for a massage therapist in their local area, he or she may take the time to read the recommendations on your LinkedIn profile. In that case, having  recommendations on LinkedIn can make a difference if you happen to have a string of positive comments.

In the rare event someone leaves a less than positive comment on a public directory, you can reply  to explain or apologise and maybe offer an extended session next time. If you look at www.tripadvisor.com, hotels do an excellent job in managing different types of feedback. Even top hotels get bad reviews sometimes but they are very good at offering an incentive to the reviewer to come back and experience better customer service next time.

Remember that in the case of massage the same treatment  can be experienced differently according to individual preferences and personalities. The quality of your massage remains the same but some people may experience it differently maybe because they are having a bad day or have unrealistic expectations (e.g. “fix my back now!”) and nothing you can say or do can change their mind.

Add a section on your website for testimonials

Sometimes clients will email you a testimonial directly so you don’t want all that goodness to go to waste, right? If you don’t have it already, create a page on your website for testimonials. Alternatively, add some quotes from customer testimonials in your treatment menu.

For example, under deep tissue, you could have “I had the best deep tissue treatment ever, highly recommended” from Customer X. It will make your treatment more attractive.

If you can, add pictures to make the page more interesting as normally the customer feedback pages in websites are text-heavy so they become tiresome to read.

If you are on social media, take screenshots of customer testimonials and paste them onto your customer feedback web page. It adds variety and demonstrates that you are also a good communicator online.

Ask for feedback on social media

Following on from the previous point, it is assumed that you have a social media presence. However, if you are not on social media you need to consider joining (actually, it is in your interest to join) to gain extra exposure for your massage practice.

Some massage therapists may consider social media as a “necessary evil” at best or as a massive invasion of privacy at worst. It is neither. Social media is just another term for marketing and it is a direct communication tool to your existing and potential clients. If big brands are spending fortunes on their social media presence, why wouldn’t you? Oh and by the way, creating and running social media profiles is free of charge. Big companies pay consultants to gain new fans, design attractive campaigns and come up with competition ideas.

If you are quite creative, you can have free reign on your profiles adding pictures and videos. Again, all of this is free of charge if you are using your own pictures and videos.

Let’s assume you have profiles on the main social media platforms: Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter.

On your facebook business page you have a tab for feedback where you can have your clients to leave comments “5 star – great massage!”.

On twitter you may want to aggregate your clients’ feedback in the “favourites” section of your profile.

On Google Plus, if you create a business page, clients can leave feedback.

As you can see, asking for customer feedback is not as scary as it first appeared! Give it a try!

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic /FreeDigitalPhotos.net 
  • Ginger

    I love testimonials/reviews from my clients! In fact I just had a new client this past week drive almost an hour to see me because she read my testimonials online. The scheduler/software I use (Bodywork Buddy) automatically asks clients for reviews after their 1st session with me so there is nothing awkward about me going about asking for them at all :)