Q: How have agent review sites, social media and/or real estate forums impacted the real estate industry?
A: Whether as a mortgage banker or real estate consultant, our clients have always given “reviews” of our performance in the forms of referrals/repeat business or never hearing from them again. Currently, clients have mediums to share their thoughts and experiences with anyone who will listen or read instantaneously.
The major impact forums/review sites offer is professionals have the opportunity to interact and address client’s reviews prior to losing a referral or gaining repeat business. If managed effectively, the added presence of these mediums offer added exposure for agents, a more informed customer base and greater transparency in the industry on a whole.
Q: What are some of the best practices being performed by agents to maximize this space?
A: The best strategy is to be proactive.
Be proactive in securing positive client reviews:
Have a prepared email to send to clients following their closing with links to popular agent rating forums and ask for their feedback.
Create incentives for clients who provide a review of your work.
Be proactive in a consistent presence on social media outlets and real estate resources:
Create and optimize your profile on Trulia, Angie’s List, Zillow, LinkedIn, etc. The reality is our profile is often our first impression with a potential client. Would you like them to see a fully engaged professional or the minimum? Take the time to be engaging and put your best foot forward. You may only get one shot.
Blogs and forums allow contributors to showcase their skills and “be the expert.” Following blogs for “Chicago Real Estate” or “Chicago Condos” keeps us in touch with industry chatter and, if you do contribute, will be seen by thousands. These are great opportunities to demonstrate your expertise without the hard sell. Plus, most blogs/forums live on far longer than the time it takes to write a response or post a question!
Connect your profiles to trusted referral sources. Just like we are looking to expand our networks, our referral sources are trying to accomplish the same. Additionally, ensure the mortgage originators, home inspectors, etc. that you are recommending operate their business in a similar level of professionalism. Your referrals will continue to be a direct reflection of your work.
Q. How can an agent overcome negative ratings on rating systems?
A: The majority of our clients and referral sources understand that there are unavoidable curveballs or hurdles that will come up throughout the life of our careers. It is the nature of our business that when you are dealing with such an emotional experience, there is the potential for some bad press. With that said, where there is adversity, often lies opportunity. In fact, customers whom you can “make good” on a mistake or bad experience will often become the most loyal.
When damage control is necessary, consider these suggestions:
An agent has the opportunity to respond to the majority of reviews online. Carefully construct a reply if you feel it’s necessary and appropriate. Just remember to take the high road. A well-crafted apology can often go further than long-winded excuses and keeps professionalism as the focus.
Put the law of averages to work. One negative review may look like an exception rather than the rule if you can generate positive reviews from clients.
Finally, own your online presence. The importance of social media, agent reviews and industry blogs/forums will only continue to take a greater presence in the future. Certainly opportunities to gain exposure and growth for your business exist for those able to conquer the public forums and put the machine to work for them.
Leo Neidetcher is a vice president of mortgage lending with Guaranteed Rate. He has 10-plus years of experience in the mortgage industry and has been recognized as a top-producing loan officer in the industry and for his outstanding customer dedication. He can be reached at 773.328.6620 or firstname.lastname@example.org.