Why an Online Reputation Matters In Real Estate
A good online reputation is more important than ever for real estate companies. People searching for property to buy or rent generally make the Internet their first port of call. It’s convenient and accessible because it gives them the chance to compare properties on different websites without spending time visiting agents’ offices. And, just as important, they can find out what other people think of estate agents and their properties by reading online reviews.
Online reviews are good for business
Even more compelling are the findings of a study by the Harvard Business School, which reported that a one-star increase in overall star rating leads to an increase in revenue of 5 to 9 percent.
A good online review is the Internet equivalent of ‘word of mouth’ and it’s a powerful tool for attracting customers. Darren Robertson of Northern Virginia Home Pro explains that “Buying or renting a property is a major commitment and customers want to know that they can trust estate agents to be fair and honest in their dealings.”
Are the property ads accurate or do they contain potentially misleading information? What kind of problems do customers find with properties? How helpful are the agents on this website? Were agents’ fees clear from the outset? Would a customer deal with the same agent again?
Online reviews influence decisions
These are questions that come up regularly in online reviews and the feedback from customers can have a significant influence on a customer’s decision to choose one agency over another. According to data from ReviewTrackers, 63.6 percent of consumers say they are likely to check reviews on Google before visiting a business.
A study by Statista asked customers if they trust online customer reviews as much as personal recommendations. Nineteen percent said yes if they believe the reviews are authentic and twenty-five percent said yes if there are multiple customer reviews to read.
On the flip side, ReviewTrackers found that 94 percent of consumers reported that a negative online review had convinced them to avoid a business. The data from the various surveys indicate that good online reviews are important to an estate agent’s reputation and the success of their business. However, just waiting for reviews to come in is not sufficient. It’s essential to actively manage the process by encouraging reviews and responding to them.
Make it easy for customers to post reviews
Customers want to share their views, but they may not share them in a way that helps your business.
They may start by posting comments on Facebook or other social media platforms. If they do, you’re unlikely to be aware of what they are saying about your business. But, if you create a page on your website for reviews, you can then monitor the feedback and act on it.
You can either allow customers to post comments directly on your site or link with an independent review site such as Trustpilot or rankmyagent.com that allows you to display their reviews on your website.
Encourage customers to post reviews
When a customer has completed a property deal, make sure you contact them by email or text and ask them to leave a review. To make the process simple, include a link that the customer clicks to get straight to the review page. When the review has been published, let the customer know, even if they have posted a critical review.
Keep the review format simple. Customers don’t want to spend time answering a lot of questions. The format may be as simple as asking for a star rating out of five and a box where the customer can leave comments on their experience.
Make sure that the reviews are genuine. Fake reviews can be embarrassing and damaging to your reputation. One Canadian property firm had asked friends and families to post positive reviews as a way of boosting the number of reviews on their site. When a journalist’s investigation uncovered the practice, the company’s reputation was badly damaged.
Respond to reviews
It’s also important to respond to reviews, whether they are positive or negative. This can be time-consuming but it demonstrates to customers that you value their opinions.
If the review is positive, thank the customer for their views. This can help build loyalty in the long term by building a closer relationship.
If the review is negative, thank the customer for bringing their problem to your attention and explain any actions you will take to remedy the situation. Responding in this way can help to rebuild a relationship that might have been damaged and shows other customers that you are open about your business and don’t try to conceal problems.
Manage your reputation
Managing your online reputation does involve effort, but as the statistics show, it can be an important factor in attracting and retaining customers to your agency.