Online ratings systems are popular when it comes to users reviewing and rating just about any product or service, including real estate. But concerns as to whether online ratings programs yield dependable results helped launch a Realtor-specific ratings program.
The National Association of Realtors has introduced the new Realtor Excellence Program (REP), funded by the Center for Specialized Realtor Education, a NAR subsidiary. NAR partnered with Quality Service Certification, a California-based real estate technology company that uses ratings systems to improve real estate professionals’ customer service, and the newly launched program enables brokers and agents to receive and track ratings from actual customers.
The main goal of REP, said Laurie Janik, NAR’s general counsel, in a story by RisMedia, is to improve members’ professionalism and help make the agent a consumer’s valued trusted advisor. An added bonus, Janik added, is that the data generated through REP will also help brokers and agents increase customer satisfaction, as well.
“For today’s consumers, one of the biggest benefits is the fact that they can voice any concerns they may have regarding the buying or selling process and the agent who represented them throughout the transaction,” Janik told RisMedia. “And they can rest assured that the information will be seen by both the agent and the broker, enabling prompt follow up.”
Additionally, after closing five transactions, agents can choose to have their ratings hosted on a public website, which provides a reliable source of ratings for consumers. “This program is set up so that it can’t be gamed,” Janik said. “It’s real buyers and sellers rating the agent they worked with and a transaction that has closed, therefore, the ratings have validity.”
The detailed surveys measure customer satisfaction in key areas such as communication, negotiation skills and the amount of time it took to sell the property. Visitors to the website can view those results, along with an overall customer satisfaction rating.
In addition, REP can be a broker’s tool – it can help gauge agents’ strengths and weaknesses, which show the broker what education, training and mentoring an agent may need to improve. This gives the agent the opportunity to develop certain skills that will help them feel more confident when working with clients in the future.
“From the association standpoint, it’s always a good idea to raise the level of professionalism of real estate agents/brokers, because it will ultimately increase the consumer experience,” Janik said. “Anything you can do to make the member more professional, enhance the consumer experience and reduce the number of unhappy people is a good thing.”
Based on customer surveys that are sent via email to buyers and sellers after the transaction has been completed, the program affords clients the opportunity to rate both the transaction and the agent, providing information that creates a win-win for everyone involved.
At press time, the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors (MORe) is using the system, along with the St. Paul Area Association of Realtors, Minnesota; the California Association of Realtors; the Denver Metro Association of Realtors, Colorado; the Atlanta Board of Realtors ,Georgia; the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, Minnesota; and the Hampton Roads Realtor Association in Virginia.
“We want to be responsive to the needs of today’s consumer,” said MORe CEO Pam Krieter. “We see this as an opportunity to not only help homebuyers and sellers make better, more informed choices, but also to give our members new tools they can use to improve their business and increase client retention and loyalty.”
MORe is currently providing the new ratings system to its members free of charge. The association is excited to be one of the first associations to test the program, so to speak, and has outlined these benefits for its members:
• A satisfaction survey process: REP is a comprehensive email survey that is sent to clients after the transaction closes.
• A client feedback reporting system: Agents can view client feedback on a password-protected website.
• An influential marketing tool: Agents may choose to activate a personal profile, including contact information and website address on RatedAgent. com. Agents also have the option to publish any or all of the client feedback on RatedAgent.com for prospects to view.
• A social media marketing opportunity: Agents may post client feedback, including their comments, on a variety of Internet, public promotional and social networking channels.
While various agent-rating websites already exist, the nature and accuracy of their data varies greatly, and the industry has suffered from the lack of a central resource that consumers can reliably use to rate and search for Realtors. MORe hopes to change that by making one, proven system – possibly this one – available to its more than 14,000 members at no cost. Individual brokerages will then have the ability to opt in or out.