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Word of mouth is a critical component of your brokerage’s growth and reputation. Of course, this isn’t something you can create out of thin air. It has to happen naturally, because your future clients have an innate sense of manufactured word of mouth.
Your potential clients may use your website to access MLS listings, they may explore the local communities and discover information about the neighborhood, but they will want to know more about you before finally settling on an agent.
You need to give homebuyers a reason to choose you over the competition, and reviews and testimonials will weigh heavily in this decision.
Think of them as a way to help homebuyers prequalify agents and brokerages before making first contact. This will help them feel confident that they made the right choice.
Let’s take a closer look at what reviews can mean to your brokerage.
Why Reviews are So Important – According to the Statistics
There have been a lot of studies that show exactly how important reviews really are. Some of the more salient points include:
85% of consumers use online reviews to evaluate local businesses
Consumers trust peer recommendations (including online reviews) 5x more than traditional advertising
62% of consumers say they would choose to contact a real estate agent found online if the agent has reviews that were clearly posted by real customers
When asked if they would contact an agent that had many 5-star ratings as well as a few 2-star ratings, 19% said yes, 33% of customers said they were “likely” to contact the agent, and 38% were “somewhat likely”
43% said that if they got an agent recommendation by word of mouth, they’d still do an internet search to learn more about the agent.
Reviews Help You Improve the Brokerage
If someone takes the time to provide a detailed review, it may contain the kind of information you need to reassess and reimplement the strengths of your brokerage. The more in-depth the review, the more you’ll be able to act on that feedback.
It may not be pleasant to read a negative review, but they are a natural building blog of your company.
Reviews Give You an Opportunity to Resolve Concerns
You can catch the problems before they have a permanently negative effect on your brand. It’s been shown time and time again that people are willing to forgive a bad review if it’s clear that you responded to the problem and did what you could to make it better.
Reviews Show You Areas Where Coaching and Training May be needed
When you receive feedback from clients, you can use it as a window into your brokerage and see exactly where you can help your agents get more leads and provide better customer support.
This is also and opportunity to gather reviews on each aspect of your agents’ performance, so you can see who may need more help.
Reviews Naturally Answer Important Questions
A good review can answer some of the most important questions that potential clients may have about your brokerage or agents. When someone is just starting down the path to home ownership, they want to know:
Is the agent honest and trustworthy?
Does the agent have a good knowledge of the neighborhood?
Does the agent respond quickly to questions?
Will the agent listen to their concerns?
Does the agent have a caring personality?
Does the agent or brokerage have an overall good reputation?
All of these items are commonly answered in a good review, making it easier for new clients to find the information they really want.
How to Get and Use Reviews
It’s okay to be proactive about seeking and promoting positive reviews. Here are a few guidelines for encouraging more reviews and getting the most use out of them.
Ask for them –
Don’t just assume that, no matter how great the experience, the buyer will automatically feel moved to leave a review. Ask them to share their experience and mention the websites where it will be the most helpful.
Earn it –
It seems obvious, but if you want a good review, you have to deserve it. You will need to deliver an experience they will remember. More than that, it should be the kind of experience they will want to tell others about.
Show your gratitude
– Reward people for their effort on your behalf. Find a way to express your gratitude and make them feel like they made the right choice telling others about your brokerage.
Use unique reviews
– When identical reviews pop up all over the web, it will reduce your credibility with search engines and clients. Try to mix it up when you can and share different reviews on different sites.
Take negative reviews in stride
– No one likes to see bad (or even neutral) reviews, but they’re a part of the business. More importantly, research shows that consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad comments. We all understand that no one is perfect, so if you have nothing but 5-star reviews, it can seem suspicious.
Make reviews visible and accessible
– Share your reviews across the major portals and search engines. Highlight them on your own website, and maybe even share them on your social media. There are a lot of ways to make sure that your potential customers have an opportunity to see this information.
Reviews are the modern word of mouth. Help your potential clients learn all about you by proactively collecting and publishing them in the most effective places.