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Customer Service

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Online Reputation and Yelp

September 19, 2012

In an industry that is built on individuals and relationships – reputation matters. How your potential clients view you, how other agents view you, and how your sphere views you all play a role in determining your success as a Realtor®. In today’s world, with the technology and resources that are available, your reputation extends beyond what is said among friends – it extends to the public on the internet. Sources say between 75-90% of consumers check online reviews before purchases. If consumers are looking for reviews before deciding what brand of camera to buy – there is no doubt they’re looking online before they make a decision about who will represent them in such a large life event like buying a home.  It is crucial that every REALTOR® knows how they look and what is being said about themselves online. Potential clients and past clients are reviewing and viewing reviews of you on Yelp whether you know or like it.
We’ll be talking about online reputation quite a bit on here, but this entry will focus on Yelp – a go to site for restaurant reviews, that increasingly is being used to review professional services. Here are some tips about how to manage your presence on Yelp:

  • Make sure you have a business profile there – this way, you’re in control of the non-review data that is there. This ensure accuracy of contact information. In addition, it makes a designated place where clients can review your services.
  • Make sure it displays your name – not just your brokerage. Too often agents post only their brokers name – and end up with reviews about completely different agents than intended!
  • Let your clients know you’re on Yelp -if they’re active, you won’t even need to ask for a review.
  • Do NOT mass solicit reviews – Yelp has pretty strict filters to weed out solicited reviews that don’t appear genuine.
  • It’s ok to have non-5 star reviews! The digital consumer is increasingly skeptical of reviews, and if the review doesn’t seem genuine and is filled with flowery praise, they won’t believe it.
How do I deal with negative reviews?
Often people dismiss Yelp as just a place where people go to complain. While sometimes it may seem this way, this is not the case – the majority of reviews on Yelp are positive. However, negative comments happen.
  • Don’t panic! Calm down. This is part of being a business.
  • Even if you believe it to be false, reviews are highly subjective and hard to prove false. Yelp rarely removes reviews and sets a high bar for what qualifies as a violation of their content guidelines. Only report a review if there is a clear violation – misleading information, misunderstandings and unfavorable reviews are not a violation.
  • If you feel it necessary, you can respond to a review – publicly or privately and try to resolve any misunderstanding. Empathize with the consumer, offer solutions, or reaffirm your dedication to the best customer service.
  • Legal action, or threats of, are can have very serious consequences and often escalates the situation. They rarely end with either party being happy.
  • Learn from it – why did this client walk away with a bad experience? Why do they believe they had a bad experience? What can you do to strive for better customer service?
  • Let it go and move on.

The best way to increase positive reviews on Yelp is to produce positive experiences for your clients. Overtime, negative reviews will be pushed down the page and or treated as less useful and reliable. What customer service is about is having your happy clients walk away with as much passion as the people who have a less than perfect experience – strive for this.
Yelp has frequently asked questions from business owners here that deal with common issues about reviews, Yelp’s filters, and best practices.

About Author:
Andrew Violante is the Social Media and Communications Coordinator at Alain Pinel Realtors where he oversees social media strategy and implementation for the brokerage. 

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Can I Be Removed From Your Mailing List?

September 13, 2012

Despite all the different ways Realtors® promote themselves online, direct mail marketing is still a large part of any comprehensive marketing plan. However, while email marketing has strict anti-spam and various other laws that outline who you can email and who you cannot, the rules surrounding snail mail are a bit more murky. How do you handle when a consumer asks to be removed from your mailing list?

While there are no laws prohibiting snail mail or requiring you to take people’s names off your mailing list, we do offer some best practices. Even if not required, it is a good idea to police lists and purge the names of those who do not want the mailings. Most large companies and marketers actually belong to associations that are bound to remove any customer who requests to be removed – both for goodwill and for environmental reasons. You can read about many of the ways people get removed from mailing lists and consumer rights here. In an era in which consumers are empowered by social media and other outlets to express their dissatisfaction with companies, failure to remove prospective clients from mailing lists may antagonize them.
For most real estate companies, there is no centralized “list” – most agents maintain their own lists. As a result, requests for removal need to be made directly to each agent. As it is a reflection not only on your business, but on the broker you represent, here are some tips for removing consumers:

  • Have a system in place to permanently remove addresses, no matter the source of your original list
  • Apologize for any inconvenience
  • Explain you can only remove them from your individual list
  • If necessary, explain how your list was created and why they originally began receiving your mailings (some consumers do not realize that their information is often public)
  • If they are receiving additional mailings from another agent in your broker, offer to reach out on their behalf (and follow through)

Conversationsis where we help agents deal with common client concerns and detail best practices.  Are you being frequently asked a question by your clients? Or are you unsure how to handle a situation? Trouble talking to your clients about a tricky situation? Send us an email ( and we will try to answer it in a future entry.
*These are not meant to serve as official legal advice.