118 (Almost Positive!) Yelp Reviews…And Counting
I love the challenge of being a leader in my local area for Yelp reviews. If there’s one thing our company does well, it’s how to get customers to post on review sites, specifically Yelp and Google. In today’s world, online reviews are just as important as personal recommendations. Most people will use online reviews to establish whether or not a company is viable, and more importantly, whether or not to buy your product or service.
Of course, everyone wants great reviews for their business, and not just on Yelp or Google. But how to get those reviews can seem like a daunting task, especially when “just asking,” just isn’t working. There is also the concern of what type of reviews you are getting, once you get a customer to post their experience with your company. And finally, there is the concern with how much it costs to promote your business on Yelp.
I am in Austin, and I currently have over 106 Yelp reviews, with about a 4.5-star rating. The following are some tried and tested ways which I have put into practice myself. These methods will help you get your customers to leave a review, walk you through steps on how to deal with a negative review, and how to build a great Yelp following…for FREE.
Create a Great Profile
First of all, be sure to put some time and effort into your profile page. Be sure to add great photos, along with clear descriptions, telephone numbers, accurate business opening hours, and a website for people to link to. Photos should not be stock photography or clip art. Instead, having pictures of staff and great before and after pictures will allow prospective customers to spend time on your page, increasing the likelihood that they will purchase from you.
Tell Everyone You’re On Yelp, Google, Angie’s List and Others!
Ok, so this may sound obvious, but you cannot underestimate the importance of communication! Make sure you post a visible Yelp sign on your website and other places wherever customers might look. If you have customers visiting you in your premises, your vehicles, your email signature, and your website are all tools to be used! It’s SUPER IMPORTANT that they see a “check us out on Yelp” sign. If you have any social media accounts, then this is an excellent way to raise awareness and gently let people know that they can find you on Yelp.
It’s the same with other review sites, make sure you promote the sites where people can leave a review a review for you. They might not be active on Yelp, but they may be familiar with other review sites which all have their benefits in the online world.
A good review almost always starts with a survey. In my maid service, we use Quality Driven Software (QualityDrivenSoftware.com) to survey our clients after each cleaning. Once they score their service a 4 or 5 star (the highest rating), they receive an automatic link asking them to post their honest experience on Yelp or Google. By surveying first, you know exactly who you want to ask to post a social review on your behalf.
Move Reviews Out of the “Not Recommended”
I’m always surprised when I talk about this point at just how many people don’t know about the filters on Yelp! If you are on a mission to get the best rating on Yelp you possibly can, a step you need to take regularly is to check the filters and to remove any reviews which may have been caught in there. These scores do not count towards your overall star rating. Yelp automatically hides anything that it deems not to be genuine (whether this is the case, or not), it’s done automatically by the system using an algorithm which can sometimes get it wrong! If you head to the very bottom of your company page where it lists the page numbers, just to the left of those figures, there is a “filtered” button, which then gives you access to these reviews.
Be sure to follow any Yelpers that have left you a review, even more so if these appear in the filtered section. This will help a Yelper appear to be more genuine, and it also helps with the validity of their profile too. You can also send the person who left you a review a thank you message for their review and mention to them that their reviews are being filtered out. It is possible that they do not know about this! In order for their review to be unfiltered, it could just be the case that they need to update their profile or be a little more active on the Yelp platform. We encourage our reviewing clients to:
Find friends (and accept our friend requests that we send from our personal accounts)
Click on “Useful” for other business reviews
Write more reviews
Post a profile picture
While I have never tried this myself, I have seen other business owners offer a “check in” offer, say a free upgrade for “checking in” to the place of business. Checking in is also a great strategy for becoming an active Yelper so that reviews are not stuck in the dreaded filtered, not “Not Recommended” section.
Reach Out to Loyal Customers
You may have clients who you have worked with for several years or even people who have told you in the past that they are exceptionally pleased with your services. Ask them to post their comments onto your Yelp, or Google account. This is just the same as someone telling a friend they were pleased with your work. It is perfectly acceptable to say to them, “Hey – I’ve just registered on Yelp / Google, as we’ve worked together for some time; would you mind posting a review?” Since we clean over 500 homes a month, we heavily rely on our software, Quality Driven Software (QDS) and filter out all passing scores so that we know exactly who was genuinely pleased with their service.
Making the most of your online presence, and gaining reviews is a superb way to attract or secure new business. I can’t tell you the number of times clients call us and say, “I saw your reviews on Yelp and was so impressed. Can we book a cleaning?” At that point, providing a quote is just a necessary routine as they’ve already hired us in their minds, solely based on our reviews.
Make It Easy for your Customers to Leave Reviews
Most people will not go and look for a place to leave you a review, unless they have had a particularly negative experience and are unhappy with how your business has handled them. This is why I would always advise anyone who is looking to get more reviews to make it really easy for their client to post a review. Links in any place where you communicate with customers are key. A really good way to do this is to send your customers an email, or message to thank them for their business once the transaction has taken place. Not only is this a nice thing to do, it also gives them a quick and easy way to leave a review for you, whilst you are still fresh in their mind!
While Yelp discourages it, it’s not outside of their Terms of Service to ask for honest feedback. It’s important to mention here that you should not be asking for a good review, merely just an honest assessment of your business or its services.
In our company, we leave a “leave behind” that states which team did the cleaning and tells them to check their email for the one click rating email coming through QDS. We run a contest every month where one of our clients will win a free cleaning, all for answering their survey. This helps to encourage in-house reviews which are just as important as third party review sites. This survey system allows us to know who to ask for an online review.
Effectively Deal with Negative Reviews
Let’s face it: Every company wants only great online reviews. However, it’s just not possible, especially the more you grow and the more you hire. But dealing with bad reviews doesn’t have to be stressful. It does, however, take practice, LOTS of patience, and a caring spirit to deal with these reviews.
Now, you can’t filter out bad reviews, and neither Yelp, Google, or anyone else for that matter allows you to pay for a review to be removed. So when you get one (notice that I didn’t say ‘if’?), you will want to do the following:
*Quickly respond to the review. Do not get defensive and do not respond with your side of the story. Instead, think of yourself as a neutral third party, there to help the client get what they want and need.
* Call the client. When you call the client, put all of your focus on solving their issue, not the negative Yelp review. When you call the customer, provide a list of options to fix their issue. Fixing doesn’t always have to come in the form of money back. In fact, I can only think of one client in the last two years that we did money back, it’s that rare.
*Fix their issue and make them whole again, plus add a little something special such as sending them flowers or a small gift for their children if they have any.
I promise you: If you handle a negative review with kid gloves, there are many times a bad review will be moved or changed by the poster. Or possibly kept but an updated review with a higher score will be posted.
But let’s say that you’ve done all of the above with no positive outcome. That’s when you hope that they’re review will be filtered by Yelp’s algorithms in a few short weeks due to nonactivity by the poster. (Whew!) And if you’ve been hit with the worst of the worst review, work even harder to gain some great positive reviews to hide the eye soar.
Personally, I don’t pay Yelp for placing my listing. I tried it once for a very brief period (a few months?) and got mixed results so I stopped. That’s not to say that Yelp’s advertising programs don’t work, I just haven’t invested the money. For all I know, my competitors are raking it in, the advertising is paying for itself, and I am leaving gobs of money on the table. But for now, I find that I’m top third listing in my area and I am satisfied with those results. This means free advertising, another reason to devote time and effort into gaining Yelp reviews.
Always write a thank you comment for any reviews, both good and bad. It only takes a minute to thank a customer for their review. It shows you care, it shows you read the reviews, and, it also increases your level of activity which the review sites measure.
It doesn’t matter if you are a single person business, a start-up, or an enterprise company; having a good online reputation is important, in fact, it’s more than that, it’s essential for the online success of your company and key to winning new contracts, new customers and more importantly, making more money for your business.
Don’t already use software that helps you gain more positive Yelp reviews? Take a tour today! QualityDrivenSoftware.com