The Internet has ushered in many changes to the U.S. economy, and one of the most pronounced has been the customer review. Though Consumer Reports, Consumers Digest and other publications have offered reviews of products and services for decades, the Internet effectively democratized the process, allowing everyday consumers the chance to review books on Amazon, contractors on Angie’s List and sushi on Yelp.
And by no means are real estate agents immune to that trend. Zillow, Trulia and Redfin all offer systems for reviewing agent performance, and recent surveys suggest that more and more consumers are incorporating those reviews into their home search process. According to NAR’s latest Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report, 10 percent of homebuyers utilized online recommendations when choosing their agent, and 38 percent indicated that though they did not use online recommendations in their most recent home search, they will consider doing so the next time around.
Such is the climate that RealSatisfied, an agent review platform, has launched its services, albeit in a unique format. Rather than requiring any software installations, RealSatisfied instead centralizes its services into an online app containing many different services, including:
- A highly detailed customer satisfaction survey that asks clients about their experience
- A “complaint escalation process,” which notifies agents of bad client experiences so that the agent can contact the client before any grievances become public
- An “Agent Dashboard” that allows agents to automatically syndicate recommendations to Twitter, Facebook, personal websites and realtor.com
- Individual agent profiles, which show the percentage of satisfied clients, the percent who recommended the agent’s services and the agent’s overall performance rating, along with an extensive list of customer testimonials. The profiles are also very SEO friendly and appear on agents’ Google search results.
RealSatisfied offers a free version of its app, which includes all of the aforementioned features, but with one caveat – agents are limited to just three customer testimonials. In order to accumulate unlimited testimonials, agents must pay for the “Agent Pro” package, which is $99 a year (there is also a “Broker Pro” plan for offices that is $50 per office, per month).
A ‘Real’ Twist on the Agent Review Process
Though the basic tenets of RealSatisfied bear resemblance to other customer review systems, it distinguishes itself from the competition through the sheer depth of its survey. While Zillow, for instance, only allows clients to rate an agent’s local knowledge, process expertise, responsiveness and negotiation skills, RealSatisfied’s survey samples clients on such matters as:
- The factors that influenced their selection of agent (commission, local knowledge, etc.)
- The agent’s performance on negotiating, attention to detail and other technical processes
- The agent’s characteristics, from politeness and understanding to trustworthiness and accessibility
- Whether or not they would recommend the agent to others
- Their overall testimonial about the agent
The one dimension of RealSatisfied that is lacking is the site’s syndication system, though it’s through no fault of the app’s. As Jeff Turner, the president of RealSatisfied, explained in an interview with Chicago Agent, realtor.com was a willing partner in the app’s syndication aims from the beginning, while Zillow has, ironically, never allowed syndication from any source, regardless of intent. That said, Turner explained that RealSatisfied remains an “open syndication platform,” and that the “door is not closed” for its discussions with Zillow. There is similarly no direct syndication option for Trulia, but RealSatisfied agents can easily copy and paste their testimonials into Trulia’s “Add Recommendations” option and publish them to their Trulia account.
According to the latest comScore analysis of the most popular real estate websites, Trulia and realtor.com make up a combined 52 percent (or 49.8 million) of unique visitors to those sites, while the remaining 48 percent of visitors (or 46 million visitors) opt for Zillow. Again, nearly half of future homebuyers will soon consult online reviews before settling on an agent, and given that online marketing means projecting confidence and savvy, RealSatisfied offers a clean, detailed and SEO-ready platform for demonstrating one’s real estate moxie.