Most companies will tell you that they care deeply about customer service, and that includes real estate brokerages. But when five-star real estate agent reviews are ubiquitous across rating platforms, how are discerning buyers and sellers supposed to find the agents — and brokerages — who care the most about the service experience?

  • The QE Award is segmented into small, medium and large brokerages and is based on a customer satisfaction survey aggregate score.

Most companies, including real estate brokerages, will tell you they care deeply about customer service. But when five-star real estate agent reviews are ubiquitous across rating platforms, how are discerning buyers and sellers supposed to find the agents — and brokerages — who care most about the service experience?

Quality Service Certification (QSC), a customer service measurement service for the real estate industry, announced the QE Award, which “measures and independently verifies excellence in the delivery of the highest levels of customer satisfaction and service quality in real estate in North America,” according to QSC.

Pronounced “Quie,” the QE Award made its original debut between 2006 and 2009, when it recognized the top 10 brokerages in the country; the updated version is segmented into small (between 120 and 1,000 closed transactions in 2016), medium (1,000 to 3,000 closed transactions) and large companies (minimum of 3,000 closed transactions in 2016).

“It’s not easy,” acknowledged Larry Romito, chairman and CEO at QSC, “but we want owners and agents to understand that really, really, really good service is possible — and you don’t have to grade your own papers to get an ‘A.'”

Measuring customer satisfaction

Romito said they wanted to create the award to bust an industry myth: “Through leadership, inspiration, mission defining and creating stakeholder interests, you absolutely can dramatically alter human behavior.” He says that the real-time feedback and transparency of agent reviews — when they’re solicited for every transaction, and when managers and broker-owners have access to the contents of those reviews — can shift culture and elevate customer service.

QSC surveys every closed transaction (after the commission check has been cut by the brokerage) with two exceptions: one is REO properties that are institutionally managed, and the other exception has to do with third-party relocation companies that preclude brokers from sending out any surveys surrounding the transaction.

“An agent knows that if they don’t provide an email address, a survey might not go out,” Romito noted, “and that creates an opportunity for bias, prejudice and manipulation.” If an email address for a client involved in a closed transaction isn’t available, then QSC sends its survey through the U.S. Postal Service.

The survey asks buyers and sellers a number of questions, which Romito describes as “consumer centric — important to the consumer.” For example:

  • How long did you expect your home to be on the market before it sold?
  • How long was your home on the market before you accepted an offer?
  • How satisfied were you with the price in terms of sale?
  • How happy were you with the quality and frequency of communication?

The winners

There are 35 brokerages named in the 2017 class of the QE Awards.

The 2017 QE Award winners for the Top 5 Large Companies were:

  • Charles Rutenberg Realty, Greater Chicagoland Area
  • Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Drysdale Properties, Northern California and Nevada
  • Harry Norman, Realtors, Atlanta
  • The Keyes Company, South Florida
  • Re/Max of Reading, Reading, Pennsylvania

The 2017 QE Award winners for the Top 10 Medium Companies were:

  • Real Living Messina & Associates, Duluth, Minnesota
  • Kinlin Grover Real Estate, Osterville, Massachusetts
  • Re/Max Estate Properties, Los Angeles
  • Real Living Kee Realty, Rochester/Clinton, Michigan
  • Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Tomie Raines Realtors, East Lansing, Michigan
  • Real Living Realty Professionals, Massachusetts
  • CJR Carol Jones Realtors, A Berkshire Hathaway Affiliate, Springfield, Missouri
  • Re/Max Allegiance, Alexandria, Virginia
  • Coldwell Banker Hickok & Boardman Realty, Burlington, Vermont
  • Keller Williams Classic Realty, Coon Rapids, Minnesota

And the 2017 QE Award winners for the Top 20 Small Companies were:

  • The Berkshire Group, Realtors, Denver
  • Home Realty, Inc., Owensboro, Kentucky
  • Real Living Property For You, Peoria, Arizona
  • Real Living 1st Choice Realty, Coral Springs, Florida
  • Real Living Capital City Realty, Atlanta
  • BOWES Real Estate Real Living, Arlington, Massachusetts
  • Real Living CO Properties, Denver
  • Real Living Palm West Home Realty, Inc., Palm Coast, Florida
  • Re/Max Select, Oviedo, Florida
  • Real Living Wareck D’Ostilio, New Haven, Connecticut
  • Real Living Northwest Realtors, Bothell, Washington
  • MikkiMoves Real Estate, Inc., Eureka, California
  • Real Living Cypress Realty, Inc., Fort Myers, Florida
  • Real Living Volpini Realty Group, Youngstown, Ohio
  • Real Living Karapasha Realty, Katy, Texas
  • ERA Martin Associates, Salisbury, Maryland
  • Real Living Realty Group, Franklin, Massachusetts
  • Golden Real Estate, Inc., Golden, Colorado
  • Real Living Gateway Realtors, Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey
  • First Colorado Realty, Inc., Estes Park, Colorado

“When you have customers who are very satisfied, they come back unthinkingly,” Larry Romito told Inman.

QSC administers the survey process “to ensure that every past customer is surveyed, preventing agents or the company from interference or influence in any way,” the company stated in a press release.

The award is based on the survey results gathered between January 1 and December 31, 2016. QSC said that more than 30,000 agents and 750 companies participated in the award process, and the final decisions were based on “the aggregated overall Customer Satisfaction Rating of all returned surveys of real customers.”

“There is no greater honor than earning the highest ratings from our customers for the hard work of our agents touching all the bases and bringing home a fantastic service experience for every one of our clients,” said Mike Pappas, President and CEO at Keyes Real Estate in South Florida, in a statement. “That’s why winning a QE Award from Quality Service Certification is the best award any brokerage in real estate can receive,” he added.

“At a time when consumers are seeking transparency, greater accountability, and trusted information to help them make better, more informed decisions and choices, hundreds of companies and tens of thousands of their service professionals are now electing to participate in service assessment and feedback following every transaction, which is setting a new and better standard for excellence,” said Kevin C. Romito, President at QSC, in a statement. “They’re not just raising the bar for customer service; they’ve committed to a whole new standard knowing consumers are tired of seeing meaningless perfect reviews where every agent has a 5-star rating.”

Email Amber Taufen

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