Reputation Management For Estate Agents
Review websites are a large part of the internet nowadays as people research businesses prior to making a purchase, and Estate Agencies are no different than any other. In fact service based businesses should pay particular attention to this trend. So how do you go about managing your business reputation online?
1. ACCEPT THAT THESE SITES AREN’T GOING ANYWHERE
Unfortunately people like to read reviews prior to making decisions on service, and leave them, particularly when they feel wronged. Accepting that the web provides that window of opportunity, will put you on the best footing to managing your reputation online. Facebook for example, have just recently opened the door on a local product that has highlighted the importance of reviews as users are able to search directly for ‘Estate agents in Placename’ and see instantly the businesses which are returned, alongside their reviews and ratings.
2. KNOW THE WEBSITES WHERE YOU ARE LISTED
The list of Estate Agent specific review websites continues to grow, and although some are more focused on UK Estate Agencies, undoubtedly you will find Northern Ireland brands popping up on them. Do your homework, and find out where your customers have sung your praises.
Here’s a list of some of the more popular
Agent Specific websites:
(one of the more credible sites)
and sister site
Search for your brand, and take a note of all the pages your business is listed on by writing down the URLs where you are mentioned. Even if no one has yet written a review, you will want to be alerted to the fact that someone can and probably will at some point write one.
Googling your ‘company name’ and the word ‘review(s)’ will turn up some of the sites worth paying attention to.
3. SET UP SOME MONITORING
So now you have the websites where you are listed, whether in or outside of your control. The next step is to setup email alerts to let you know when those pages change. ChangeDetection.com is a great free service that lets you “watch” a webpage URL for any changes, so you can get on with running your business until such time as someone writes a review and the page changes in context.
Google Alerts are another great way to see when and where your business gets a mention on the web.
At this point you’ll want to either try and respond and answer the query publically. Obviously the quicker you respond to someone the more proactive you’ve become which has the added benefit of in some instances disarming the complaint.
4. MONITOR SOCIAL MEDIA
Reviews don’t always have to come on websites. Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are often where the fires start, so monitoring for brand mentions on those platforms is a worthwhile exercise in reputation management too. There are many, many tools for social media monitoring available on the web. (Socialmention.com and Hootsuite.com are two great tools that we personally use, but Googling will turn up others).
5. RESPOND QUICKLY, POLITELY, AND WITH THE FACTS
Many businesses get defensive when responding to bad reviews and that’s 100% the wrong thing to do. Remember that your response will be there for the rest of the web to see, so calmly answer the query and where possible excel in your response.
There are two schools of thought on this:
1. Either offer to contact the complainant offline or via email
2. Excel in the response you make and go above and beyond with your level of service so it is visible for the world to see, and demonstrates your commitment to customer service in a public forum.
In the majority of cases, the PR win from doing things well publically is the way to go.
6. SOLICIT REVIEWS FROM HAPPY CUSTOMERS
Commit to being open and encourage reviews from happy customers. The only way to cancel out negative reviews is to have more positive ones.
Positive reviews can improve conversion rates on websites by as much as 20%, and you can choose to either embrace reviews, or ignore them. Implementing solutions such as Loudervoice.com or allowing open comments on a reviews page is an easy way to get your customers talking when you do a good job. Encourage staff to ask customers for reviews when they have successfully completed a sale. Some businesses get review cards printed up letting vendors know where they can leave positive feedback.
7. SHOWCASE POSITIVE REVIEWS
Using the positive feedback you have already acquired from customers as new content for the web is a quick win. You can put these on your own website and/or as part of your overall social media message. This will provide reinforcement that you are a trustworthy brand to do business with. There may also be opportunities to use that content on other third party websites as well.
8. IMPLEMENT A COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE
A complaints procedure documents just how you handle complaints to your customers. If you are a member of the Property Ombudsman, they have a lot of information on their website about implementing a complaints procedure. Don’t forget to train your staff on the protocol as well.
Make it clear to customers that you take complaints seriously. Be approachable and deal with problems when they occur, in order to prevent ‘revenge’ reviews later. Unfortunately it’s unlikely that you’ll never get a negative review, but if you do the above at least it will be easier for you to put it in context, and for customers searching for your business to see how you approach those problems.
The real key to reputation management is to continually have your finger on the pulse on as many channels online as is feasible without interruption to your business. Hopefully using some of the tools and techniques mentioned here will allow you to successfully navigate the somewhat unpredictable nature of the web and customer opinion.