Real estate, as is the case with every other service-sector profession, is an industry built upon customer satisfaction, and an agent’s success will almost entirely depend on how past clients perceive – and more importantly, endorse – the agent’s performance.
It’s fairly typical, therefore, to find on agent websites dozens of client testimonials, all of which reference the agent’s skills, dedication and knowledge. A new trend, though, is moving through real estate for agents to publish not just excerpted testimonials, but full, unredacted reviews – both good and bad – on their personal sites.
As Mary Umberger pointed out in a recent Chicago Tribune article, such an approach is not very commonplace in real estate. Aside from the Houston Association of Realtors (which endorsed customer reviews in 2010) and a select number of other companies, such as Zillow and ZipRealty, unfiltered customer reviews are currently not a protocol feature on agent’s sites.
Here are some of the pros and cons to consider, when thinking about such a feature:
- Transparency – the buying and selling process can be overwhelming for some, but publishing your reviews online could communicate a level of trust and openness to prospective clients.
- Improvements – as professionals, we all have a constant desire to improve and refine, and reviews of past performance are a great way to gauge how effective our current approaches are.
- Humility – we all want to be seen in the best light, but an air of honesty and humility could come across in publishing all your reviews online.
- Publicity – remember that part about the reviews being public? They’ll be on plain display, warts and all, for all prospective clients to see. This is one of those cases where there is such a thing as bad publicity.
- Control – you’re definitely yielding control of your site’s content. With testimonials, you can choose to publish only the most sparkling of reviews, but with an open format, you give up that privilege.
- Pressure – because clients can respond freely and publicly to a bad experience, the pressure is on for you to be as helpful and accommodating as possible.
So what are your thoughts? Do the pros outweigh the cons? Is real estate being diluted, by this move towards customer-driven models, or is it a long-awaited adaptation for the industry?