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who do have the time and eagerness to
respond immediately to inquiries.
“We want to [create] rich agent profiles and let consumers choose what is
most important to them,” Graham says.
While Graham and his team at realtor.com
innovate for the future, there’s one aspect
of online reputation that many agents are
already focusing on: customers’ ratings
and reviews. Some agents find the more
customer talk they encourage, the better
off they are.
“Clients have told me they’ve read
great reviews about me,” says Samer
Kuraishi, a sales associate at A-K Real
Estate Inc. in Germantown, Md. After
every transaction, Kuraishi give customers a link to rate and review him on Zillow.
“I use the Internet as leverage to building
a great reputation—it shows this is who
I am, this is what I can do for you. I don’t
have to sell myself. They come to me, and
they already know my ability.”
ZipRealty’s survey of 2,500 buyers
found that the No. 1 factor that would
make buyers contact an agent they found
online was “excellent reviews that were
clearly posted by real customers.” An hon-
est review system of unfiltered, unedited
comments was vital or buyers wouldn’t
trust the comments, the survey found.
“If a rating system isn’t credible,
transparent, authentic, and unedited, you
actually do more damage implementing
it,” says ZipRealty’s Baker. In 2012, Zip-
Realty launched an opt-in review tool for
its agents, but any agent who opted in had
to agree to let all comments appear—the
good and the bad, unedited. Customers
were asked to comment on everything
from a agents’ overall housing expertise to
their local knowledge.
At first, only 5 percent of ZipRealty
agents used it, says Baker, who said he
fielded a lot of criticism about it from
those who feared a negative comment
would damage their business. For those
who opted in, however, they gained
credibility by exposing themselves to an
uncensored rating model, and even a
negative comment or two did not doom
their business when the overall picture
was positive, Baker says. What’s more,
the click-through rate on reviews was the
highest of any links at ZipRealty’s website, exposing those who participated to
more potential customers online. Today,
84 percent of ZipRealty agents opt in.
Larry Romito, CEO of Quality Service
Certification, a real estate–focused customer service company, views customer
reviews as a key to raising professionalism
and accountability in the business, since
they put your customers’ satisfaction in
the forefront. His research shows that customers report the highest levels of satisfaction with real estate professionals who
devote attention to counseling and needs
assessment; availability and frequency of
communication by the agent; thoroughness of the search process; negotiations;
and attention to detail in contracts.
Last year, the National Association of
REALTORS® funded a pilot with QSC to
offer the “REALTOR® Excellence Program”
to a number of REALTOR® associations,
boards, and broker-owners. The pro-
gram is operating in 24 local and state
REALTOR® associations, Romito says.
For those who participate, the company
sends out a customer survey after every
transaction, seeking detailed feedback on
the agent’s service. Agents can choose
whether to make all customer feedback
public online at Ratedagent.com or keep
the information private. But no comments
are ever edited, Romito says.
Romito says agents are still warming
up to the idea of exposing their customers’
sentiments online. Currently, there’s an
even split among those who say “yes, publish all comments automatically,” those
who say “let me see the results first before
publishing all,” and those who wish to keep
the feedback private.
Whether you choose to publicize your
ratings or not, embracing the feedback
can make you a better agent, says Jeff
Turner, CEO of RealSatisfied. Since 2012,
RealSatisfied also has been helping real
estate professionals collect post-closing
survey feedback from customers, which
forms the basis of their online profile.
RealSatisfied feedback can be integrated
with agents’ Realtor.com® profile.
Turner says the program is not aimed
at just gathering a quick testimonial or
star rating. “There’s so much more to be
learned by explicit customer feedback,”
Turner says. “The ability to see exactly
how your customer felt about various
aspects of the transaction is beneficial.
This is true on a case-by-case level and
even more true when data begins to accumulate. What can be learned over time is
valuable and shows you where to focus
say positive customer reviews make
them trust a business more.
SOURCE: 2013 BRIGHTLOCAL S TUDY