6 June 2019

When bad is not so bad: dealing with reviews

Negative reviews. They can be soul destroying. But dealing with less than positive feedback now and then is part of working in the real estate industry.

Review sites are now an integral part of just about everything we do online.

Google and Facebook reviews have given us the ability to rely on the experiences of others to help us make purchase decisions. And Whirlpool, Tripadvisor and Yelp have changed how we view brands.

Real estate agents are certainly not immune. Client reviews and testimonials help build trust in your brand and add to your online presence. But, it’s a fact, not every review will be positive.

People leave bad reviews for lots of different reasons. Some clients have expectations so high you’re never going to meet them, whatever lengths you go to. Sometimes a competitor might anonymously post a negative review in the hope of painting you in a bad light. Or a disgruntled ex-employee may feel the need to air a grudge.

Clearly, you’re not in control of other people’s opinions – but you are in control of how you deal with them.

Responding to negative reviews

Stay calm. A negative online review is usually a last-ditch effort to be heard. If a client feels you’ve ignored them or failed to understand their complaint, they may resort to an online outburst to reach a wider audience.

The most important thing you can do when you come across a bad review is to respond quickly. Let your client know they’ve been heard, apologise and offer them a way to resolve the problem.

Some issues shouldn’t be dealt with in a public forum, so you need to take it offline – but in an open way. Post a statement that says you’re keen to resolve the issue, but need to talk to the client in-depth and one-on-one. Then send them a private message. If they don’t respond within 24 hours, consider sending them a follow-up message or email to show you’re committed to resolving the issues and hearing them out.

Whatever the issue, never respond in the heat of the moment. Do your research, look back at your records and, if you’ve genuinely done something wrong, apologise. Online viewers will respect your honesty and it may end up bringing more business to your door.

When a negative’s not negative

Believe it or not, a negative review or two can actually be good in terms of marketing, because it shows your reviews are real.

Today’s consumers are savvy enough to be suspicious if a brand’s reviews are universally positive. They’re likely to think you’re vetting them or writing them yourself. And they’re likely to think they’re not an accurate reflection of your business.

The downside to bad reviews is that they can affect your online star rating. To get around this, make sure you’re always asking clients to provide reviews online. The more positive reviews you have, the less impact the negative ones will have. It’s a case of burying the bad.

Avoiding bad reviews

Obviously, the best way to avoid negative reviews is to provide standout service at all times. But should any bad feelings occur, try to nip them in the bud as quickly as possible.

Follow up with clients regularly and try to deal with any negativity offline before someone feels the need to air their grievances to the world online.

Above all, don’t be disheartened. Most people understand that everyone has different expectations and you can’t please all people, all of the time. By responding well to negative real estate reviews and demonstrating good customer service in the face of adversity, you do your real estate business a lot of favours.

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