While the agent review debate wages on, there is one simple step that every agent and brokerage can take to significantly raise client satisfaction to a 95 percent or higher level. That step is to send a post-closing survey to your clients on every transaction.
Today’s consumer is pressed for time. They search for quick ways to find data about the people with whom they will do business and the products they will purchase. Virtually anyone who is Web-savvy has checked out Yelp and TripAdvisor for hotel and restaurant reviews, and Consumer Reports for product reviews.
The challenges with Yelp
While consumers still hold Yelp in high regard, there are serious issues that extend to any site that fails to vet their reviews. If the reviews aren’t vetted thoroughly, the platform creates a scenario where competitors can unfairly stuff the ballot box or even trash each other’s services.
Quality reviews are not the “it” — traffic is. More traffic equals more ad revenue. There’s no stakeholder interest in the veracity or the quality of the data. Content is king.
The shift to quality content
The search engines are becoming increasingly more effective at determining which sites have the best-quality content. As a result, “content is king” is being replaced with “quality content is king.”
Make reviews/testimonials a key component of your business plan
According to Jeff Turner, president of RealSatisifed.com, “A bad review from one crazy client does not skew the overall rating for an agent [who] does a substantial number of transactions.” Nevertheless, if you’re not actively seeking feedback from your clients and posting it online, one negative review can have substantial repercussions for your business.
Proactively seeking agent reviews at the end of every transaction is a way to ensure that your overall client satisfaction will be in the range of 95 percent or higher. It also alerts you when you have a dissatisfied client who could damage your online reputation if you fail to take steps to rectify the situation.
If you want teenagers to behave, leave the lights on
I recently spoke with Larry Romito, president and CEO of Quality Service Certification (QSC). QSC is the granddaddy of all post-closing surveys and has a proven record of helping agents and brokerages to raise their customer satisfaction levels.
Romito likes to tell a story about a lesson his mother taught him. She said, “If you want teenagers to misbehave, turn off the lights. If you want them to behave, leave the lights on.” In other words, “Everyone is better in the sunlight.”
Sending out post-closing agent surveys is one of the best ways to “turn on the lights” and generate better agent behavior. In fact, companies that conduct even short post-closing surveys generally see an uptick in their client approval to the mid-to-high 90 percent range. This, in turn, results in more future referrals.
When there is a problem, however, the broker or agent has an opportunity to determine if there is a way to resolve the client’s issue. To obtain the most accurate information, QSC’s research shows that consumers provide more accurate feedback when a neutral third party conducts the survey rather than a brokerage or agent.
Unfortunately, many agents are adamantly opposed to agent reviews. In fact, some actually refuse to give their brokers access to their clients’ email or their forwarding addresses so that their broker can send out the survey. Romito attributes this to two issues:
“Agents want two things: First, they need to feel in control. They want to control when and where their data appears. Second, they want a fair presentation of their services and the history of their representation.”
The best promise-maker gets the deal
A third factor you can add to Romito’s list is “the teenagers don’t want the lights on.” One of the most common complaints about agents is that they make promises and then they don’t deliver on their promises. Sadly for the consumer, it’s usually the best promise-breaker who gets the deal.
Do what it takes
If you’re not using one of the many third-party providers for this function, take the additional steps to send out your own post-closing survey. If your client fails to respond to your email request, send the survey via snail mail. Be sure to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
Romito’s internal numbers demonstrate a major decline in the number of “neutral” and “dissatisfied” clients when they receive a post-closing survey. There is also a substantial uptick in the number of individuals who are “very satisfied.”
“‘Very satisfied’ consumers are less likely to shop the market for another agent when they decide to transact in the future or make a referral. Even more importantly, they’re not out there telling people not to do business with you.”
While post-closing surveys continue to be a critical step in “turning on the lights,” as I argued in a Feb. 10 article, what is really needed is to shift the focus from what happens after the transaction has closed. Instead, we must work with consumers and agents to do a better job of matching them on the front end of the process while shining a light on who delivers on their promises vs. those who do not.
Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors’ No. 1 best-seller, “Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success.” Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named “new and notable” by iTunes, at www.RealEstateCoachRadio.com.