Whether you like it or not, unbiased reviews are the way of the future and are here to stay. In fact, 79 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

And with the millennials emerging as the next generation of big spenders, we are going to see massive shifts in the ways real estate agents do business.

Online reviews have become further entrenched in the customer journey. Businesses are recognizing their influence and ability to impact financial success, yet many agents are hesitant.

Relinquishing complete control of the messaging that surrounds your personal brand can be daunting. Consumers want to engage in the conversation and share their experiences (good or bad) with others. The authenticity in these reviews can be your greatest asset, as long as you are equipped to participate graciously in the conversation.

Here are some simple tips to keep in mind that will protect and build your brand as you embrace the power of reviews:

1. Reply to every single review (especially the bad ones)

Use reviews as the opportunity to engage with past clients and show your consideration for prospective clients. Customers who shared positive reviews will feel reaffirmed in your relationship, and those with less than optimal experiences can represent an opportunity to build credibility.

In fact, by acknowledging the dissatisfaction, appropriately apologizing and offering to mend the situation publicly, you demonstrate that your business is handled professionally.

2. Create places in your service that encourage satisfied clients to leave you reviews

Ask your clients or leave hints for them to write you reviews. You can ask politely in person or by email, and those satisfied with your service should be happy to help.

If you’d rather be more subtle, you can try giving them thank-you cards with a link to your online review profile or putting a sticker on the agreement that tells them where they can leave you a review.

You can also let them know you have an online profile and encourage them to read accolades from past clients. If they are happy with your service, these clients might follow suit and share their experience in an online review.

3. Integrate with your website

Use reviews as an element to complement your existing online presence. Many review sites offer widget applications that allow your reviews to appear on your personal website as well.

It not only showcases feedback from clients that have worked with you, but it also shows prospective clients that you are confident in your service to highlight customer feedback transparently.

4. Do your homework

There are a variety of review platforms, offering different services. Determine your needs, and select the review website that best aligns with your objectives. The next step is to make sure that you are building a strong portfolio of online reviews.

In such a fast-moving industry, having zero online presence can do just as much harm to your brand as a poorly managed piece of negative feedback.

When a customer has a choice between an agent with authentic, online references and an agent’s self-published accolades — the decision is clear.

Learn more how you can build your business with online reviews.

Riti Verma is the founder and president of RankMyAgent. You can follow her on Twitter (@rankmyagent) or LinkdedIn.

Email Riti Verma.

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