Why Online Reviews Are More Important Than Ever

— Michele Watson

Online Reivews are important
Any broker or agent can claim to be the best, but they can’t expect strangers to believe them at their word. Having client testimonials and reviews are a practical way of showing what marketing experts refer to as “social proof”. In fact, reviews and testimonials have become so important that a consumer survey conducted in 2019 by Bright Local indicated that 85% of consumers are basing their buying decisions on reviews or testimonials from past customers. But now, virtual buying and selling are becoming part of the new normal. Since they might not be able to meet with you in person to get a comfort level, consumers are going to want to “shop” you first before engaging. Having a solid list of reviews will ease their minds and make them more comfortable with working with you virtually. Here are some best and worst practices that you can adopt to maximize the effectiveness of your brokerage reviews.

Which Reviews Are The Most Valuable?

Just as not all real estate brokerages are created equally, reviews vary in quality and value. While it is smart to try and collect as many reviews as possible, it is more important to get the types of reviews that will make a real difference in your real estate rep. As a rule, there are three things you should look for in every review:

  • Relevant: The more relevant a review is to the services you provide, and the people you want to attract, the better.
  • Specific: It is great when people say something positive like “Great company – highly recommend”. However, detailed and specific reviews like “Great negotiator who went above and beyond to make our closing happen on time, despite many challenges…” will go further.
  • Recent: A review from 3 years ago won’t carry the same clout as one from last week so work consistently to collect new reviews.

Quality Reviews Vs. Quantity Reviews

Research by Yelp suggests that people will look at the average star rating for your business before diving deeper to read the long-form reviews that people leave. With that in mind, you need to consider the importance of carefully avoiding any negative reviews below 4 or 5 stars. One way to do this is to ask for feedback from clients prior to asking for them to provide a testimonial. That way, if there are any areas in which they are not 100% satisfied, you have a chance to correct the problem and make them your happiest client yet.

Since reviews might often be given at the agent level, you can also consider investing in review programs that allow your positive agent reviews to roll up to your brokerage review rating. After all, if you go to the trouble of hiring the best agents, that effort should be reflected in how the brokerage is perceived in the public eye. You can leverage that not only for attracting new clients but for attracting recruits as well.

Don’t forget to collect stars and testimonials from your agents and staff as well! Remind them that for every 5-star review on your business, there will be more leads coming through the door for them. If your agent is not comfortable providing you with a 5-star review, you can address any concerns they have and increase their loyalty to your brand.

Don’t Fear Negative Reviews

There may be times when someone leaves a negative review or testimonial. If they do this publicly before you have a chance to address their concerns, be swift to respond. Reply to their review by expressing your genuine concern and offering to do whatever it takes to make them happy. When you do this, you show anyone reading how much you care about your clients’ satisfaction and that you will take action to back it up. This can actually be a powerful way to build trust with skeptics who tend not to trust reviews when they are all perfect. And if there is a trend of negative reviews, it may be a signal that you have some work to do.

Distribute Your Reviews Far And Wide

Reviews won’t do anything for you if people don’t have the chance to read them. No matter what platform you use to collect your client testimonials, you should repurpose and add them everywhere you can to get more value from each one. A few strategic places to repost your reviews include:

  • Your newsletter
  • You email signature
  • Your social media profiles
  • Your brochures
  • Your websites
  • Your listing and buyer presentations
  • Your educational content and lead magnets
  • Your media kit

Ultimately, good reviews are going to come by going above and beyond in servicing your clients. This means personalized attention, diligent follow-up and meeting, or better yet, exceeding expectations. At Weichert, we arm our affiliated offices and agents to do all of that by providing tools, such as myWeichert, our smart tech platform. This integrates contact management with a level of marketing automation that is unparalleled in the industry, helping agents follow up the right way, at the right time. These kinds of tools coupled with Weichert coaching, best practices, and resources, help you and your team service your clients and support your business goals every step of the way.

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