When a potential massage client is considering booking an appointment with you, one thing he might do before booking is look you up on review websites, such as Yelp (www.yelp.com), and read reviews of your practice. If the client can’t find any reviews—or any positive reviews—he might book elsewhere.
Getting positive Yelp reviews is almost entirely up to you and the quality of customer experience you provide. Clients will review your timeliness, friendliness, professionalism—and whether or not they left their session feeling better than when it began. Every interaction you have with your client is an opportunity to make a positive impression.
Before you implement tactics to get more online reviews, make sure those you do get will be positive, by nailing the customer experience part first. Then use the following tips to ensure you have a great presence on Yelp:
1. Don’t post fake Yelp reviews.
If Yelp’s filters catch one or users report one that turns out not to be legitimate, your profile can be flagged with a note telling potential clients you’ve been caught posting fake reviews. (In serious cases, you can even face fines—or a lawsuit.) Also, fake reviews are usually easy to spot and will turn potential clients off. They may feel you have something to hide, and no one is attracted to dishonesty.
2. Don’t provide an incentive for positive Yelp reviews.
It’s not uncommon for businesses to offer a discount to clients who leave a review; however, this is against Yelp’s terms, and the service has become adept at detecting solicited reviews and hiding them from view. Yelp wants clients to have the chance to provide honest, unsolicited reviews, because they are a true measure of how good a business really is.
3. Do let clients know you have a Yelp page.
Providing an incentive and letting your customers know you are on Yelp are two very different things. The low-pressure tactic of simply letting clients know they can leave a review is the type of awareness Yelp encourages. Here are a few suggestions for driving traffic to your Yelp page:
- Put a Yelp badge on your website that links to your Yelp page.
- In your waiting area, put a “Check us out on Yelp” sign.
- Put a “Find us on Yelp” sticker on your front door.
- Add “Review us on Yelp” to the bottom of receipts.
- Send a follow-up email to clients thanking them for their business, and letting them know they can leave feedback on Yelp.
4. Do take ownership of your Yelp page.
Yelp values businesses that have filled out their entire profile, and pages with complete information often rank higher than those without it. Additionally, you should respond to reviews. Yelp’s algorithms reward companies that are active, and potential customers will be impressed with the attention you give your page and your clients. Be sure your responses are each unique, rather than copied and pasted; don’t sound robotic; and aren’t in any way marketing or sales-oriented, such as those focused on asking readers to join a mailing list. Each response should be friendly and personalized. Never reply to a negative review while you are upset; instead, come back to it a little while later and maintain a friendly demeanor.
5. Do ask new clients where they heard about you.
If a client has left Yelp reviews for multiple businesses, his review of your business is more likely to be shown on your Yelp page, versus the review of someone who has reviewed only your business. Therefore, if a new client has found you through Yelp, she may be an active user of Yelp, meaning her review will be more valuable.
Word-of-mouth is one of the most important marketing techniques for massage therapists. Following these five simple Yelp dos and don’ts can help your clients spread word-of-mouth on the Internet.
Daniel Ruscigno is the cofounder of ClinicSense (www.clinicsense.com), which offers clinic management software to help with scheduling, intake forms, SOAP notes, billing and growing your business.