Unleashing the power of online reviews

Yelp sent us this wall decal to celebrate our positive reviews

Ever since the beginning of my career my I’ve enjoyed getting feedback from my clients and customers after a transaction. Honest feedback is the best way for me to learn what I did right and, more importantly where I can improve. I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with so many great and appreciative clients that they take time out of their day to post reviews of my services online.

I never really understood the power of online client ratings of my services until my career in Real Estate. Real Estate is a service industry. There are more real estate agents working in the Chicago area then there is product available. When a client is looking for representation a natural first step for many is to ask friends/colleagues if they can recommend anyone. Surveying online reviews is a virtual form of seeking advice from friends.

Sites like Yelp – Zillow – Trulia and numerous other agent rating sites offer a platform for clients looking for a real estate agent or a real estate company to work with. Reviews provide background research on what past customers said about their services.

Online reviews have generated numerous leads for me and my company over the years. Having such a high rating on Yelp has put my company on the map when anyone is searching for real estate services in Chicago. When responding to these or any leads, it is critical to give the same level service to EVERYONE EVERY TIME or you will be caught. Like anything honesty is the best policy. Companies that bluff their online reviews can only sustain for so long. Eventually unsatisfied clients will begin to call out the company!

My company has received a few negative reviews along with our positive ones. Even though they sting; they help us understand how to better our services. I try to resolve any issue highlighted in a negative review. Unfortunately, some negative reviews are illegitimate. All you can do is keep working hard and getting honest testimonials from your clients. The good will prevail — and if you have 80 reviews and 75 of them are gleaming, while 5 are random stabs out of no-where, be assured that clients researching your company will dismiss the negative reviews in the same way you should.

A few best practices for online reviews are:

- It’s ok to ask for reviews. It’s not ok to tell the client what to say. Reviews have to be honest and come directly from the client. A happy client loves their real estate agent. Many of mine ask me what they can do to help my business. I tell them they can review my services online and give them the links.

- Befriend your clients on the social networks like Twitter and Facebook and tag them with their review if you post it on your own channel. This proves to the world that you are getting real reviews from real clients. As an example of this practice here is a picture of me and my clients at a home closing last year.
Dan and his then—fiancé, now wife, are all smiles at the closing table for their new home. That’s me handing them the key to their new home. Dan reviewed my services on Yelp and I put this picture up on my Facebook page tagging him and his wife congratulating them on their new home.

- NEVER get fake reviews from fake clients. Eventually you will be caught and it won’t be pretty.

Work hard for you clients and everything else will come together.

Cheers!

-Greg

Managing Principle/Vesta Preferred

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