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Should Agents Allow Customer Reviews on Their Sites?

by Chicago Agent

Customer reviews are dominant in the service sector, but not necessarily in real estate.

Real estate, as is the case with every other service-sector profession, is an industry built upon customer satisfaction, and an agent’s success will almost entirely depend on how past clients perceive – and more importantly, endorse – the agent’s performance.

It’s fairly typical, therefore, to find on agent websites dozens of client testimonials, all of which reference the agent’s skills, dedication and knowledge. A new trend, though, is moving through real estate for agents to publish not just excerpted testimonials, but full, unredacted reviews – both good and bad – on their personal sites.

As Mary Umberger pointed out in a recent Chicago Tribune article, such an approach is not very commonplace in real estate. Aside from the Houston Association of Realtors (which endorsed customer reviews in 2010) and a select number of other companies, such as Zillow and ZipRealty, unfiltered customer reviews are currently not a protocol feature on agent’s sites.

Here are some of the pros and cons to consider, when thinking about such a feature:

Pros

  • Transparency – the buying and selling process can be overwhelming for some, but publishing your reviews online could communicate a level of trust and openness to prospective clients.
  • Improvements – as professionals, we all have a constant desire to improve and refine, and reviews of past performance are a great way to gauge how effective our current approaches are.
  • Humility – we all want to be seen in the best light, but an air of honesty and humility could come across in publishing all your reviews online.

Cons

  • Publicity – remember that part about the reviews being public? They’ll be on plain display, warts and all, for all prospective clients to see. This is one of those cases where there is such a thing as bad publicity.
  • Control – you’re definitely yielding control of your site’s content. With testimonials, you can choose to publish only the most sparkling of reviews, but with an open format, you give up that privilege.
  • Pressure – because clients can respond freely and publicly to a bad experience, the pressure is on for you to be as helpful and accommodating as possible.

So what are your thoughts? Do the pros outweigh the cons? Is real estate being diluted, by this move towards customer-driven models, or is it a long-awaited adaptation for the industry?

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Comments

  • Lorenzo says:

    I think full reviews are refreshing and worth the risk of what happens when someone sees a negative review. If I go to Yelp and find a restaurant that has a few bad reviews and the rest are fine, I tend to think those people who gave the negative review had unrealistic expectations. And I end up trusting the establishment more. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

  • Kevin Romito says:

    Lorenzo is right. Research clearly shows that consumers are less likely to believe ratings when it appears that no bad reviews exist. At the same time they understand and discount a few outliers, knowing that you can’t please everyone and some people have unreasonable expectations.

    But to publish customer feedback and ratings, agents must first have a reliable, proven method of gathering this information, ideally through a 3rd party that can validate the results and has options available for publishing the results when you are ready and comfortable with the process. It must be a credible system that does not allow agents to be selective about who is surveyed.

    In the last few years dozens of new Agent Ratings programs and websites have popped up. Be careful, nearly all of these are designed to collect a referral fee from agents or sold to agents as a marketing program. Despite their claims, it is not in the best interest of those sites to ensure the accuracy of the reviews being collected (i.e. only real clients and all actual clients are surveyed).

    Ratings are here and they are not going away. Consumers are demanding this type of information. To one degree or another you are being rated already. Do your research on the options available; you can avoid the cons by working with the Pros.

    Full disclosure: I am the COO of QSC, founded in 1998, which operates RatedAgent.com. The Houston Association of REALTORS® was a client of ours for about 4 years, prior to launching their current program.

  • TX says:

    Hi there! This article couldn’t be written much better! Looking at this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I’ll forward this article to him. Fairly certain he’s going to have a very good read. Many thanks for sharing!

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