We all know how stressful buying a home is, whether it’s your very first step onto the ladder or your final family home.
It’s a long, expensive process, and using the right estate agent can be the difference between finding that dream home or seeing it slip through your fingers because you couldn’t sell in time.
With every estate agent, both online and on the high street, claiming they offer the best service, how can buyers, sellers, renters and landlords choose the agent that’s right for them?
More than 95% of people use reviews in some way and 34% read multiple reviews when they’re making a large, one-off purchase, according to Feefo research.
Estate agents can no longer ignore the huge influence of reviews, but it’s not all about getting those precious five-star ratings either…
In fact, negative reviews could be having a positive impact on your agency – here’s how.
They build trust
Over half of us (52%) are suspicious if we can’t see any negative feedback when reading reviews, which isn’t that surprising when you consider 72% of us are worried about fake reviews.
You may be concerned that a negative review could put people off using your estate agency, but in actual fact their sheer presence builds trust with your brand. They show you’re collecting genuine, honest reviews and aren’t trying to hide the negatives.
Responding to negative reviews gives you a chance to demonstrate that you’re sorry, you’re listening, and you’ll take action, but more on that later.
You can’t improve without criticism
Even if you believe you’re the best estate agent in your area, there is always room for improvement. With new estate agents popping up all the time, especially online, it’s vital you stay on top of your game and continue to deliver the best experience possible to your clients.
Some 72% of consumers read several negative reviews to see if there are any common themes, so make sure you’re doing the same thing. There are tools out there that can help you spot key themes in your feedback and whether they’re typically mentioned in a positive or negative way.
This allows you to pinpoint where your strengths and weaknesses lie, allowing you to shout about where you’re strong in your marketing and improve on the things you’re not getting quite right.
Without negative feedback, it’s impossible to know why clients decided not to choose your agency after an evaluation or why, even though a sale went through successfully, they wouldn’t use you again.
Ignorance isn’t bliss – by not collecting honest feedback you could be missing out on loyal customers and word of mouth recommendations.
How should estate agents handle negative feedback?
Negative reviews aren’t damaging to your business, if you handle them correctly.
Have a policy in place
This is particularly important if you have several people in your business who will be responding to reviews. You don’t have to have stock responses (people will notice if you copy and paste the same reply to every review), but you should have a consistent tone of voice that aligns with your brand.
Even if you don’t agree with the reviewer’s opinion, it’s important to remain calm and polite when responding to negative feedback.
Try to remember that the reviewer isn’t being malicious – they just want their voice to be heard.
Saying sorry doesn’t mean you’re admitting fault, it just means your acknowledging how the customer feels. The S word can go a long way to repairing a relationship with a client, so don’t be afraid to use it!
Offer a solution
What are you going to do to ensure this issue never happens again? Tell the client how you’re planning to right the wrong, so they know you’re taking their feedback on board.
Contact the client offline
Responding publicly is important, but sometimes, you don’t want to go backwards and forwards with a customer, or you may need more details or personal information from them before you can fully investigate their complaint.
If you can, contact the customer offline first. If they don’t respond, mention this in your reply to their review, as that will hopefully encourage them to get in touch and show others that you’ve tried to get to the bottom of their issue.
Don’t be afraid of negative reviews
When choosing an estate agent, trust is the most influential factor, so you need to be doing all you can to show potential clients that you’re the right agency for them.
Even if you wanted to, you can’t hide from negative feedback, so embrace it! Make the most of what your clients have to say and make real, meaningful changes to your business, guided by their honest feedback, good and bad.
*Matt West is CEO of Feefo