Some real estate agents can’t escape them: a bad review. You’ve done all you can to help your client sell or buy his home, went the extra mile and cleared up any prior miscommunications, only to find a surprise rant on a random site.
Instead of wallowing in “what happened” and “why,” you can take steps to rectify the situation and even possibly turn that bad review into a (more) positive one.
Just Ask the Client about the Bad Review
Even top-producing Realtors like Yolanda Muckle with Long and Foster Real Estate in Mitchellvillle, Maryland, prepare for the worst.
“If I did receive a less than flattering review, I would ask my client what could I have done to improve the experience,” says Muckle.
While email and text may seem like the easiest route to start the conversation, an inquiry into a bad review deserves an actual phone call. Listen to your client carefully, make sure you understand clearly what they are saying and how they are feeling and avoid the playing the blame game as much as possible.
Say Your Sorry
“Positive and negative feedback is relevant; if negative feedback is realized, a personal explanation/apology will ensue [from me],” says Michael Kelczewski of Brandywine Fine Properties in Hockessin, Delaware.
Acknowledging a client’s feelings and letting them know you understand their perspective is a good step toward repairing a soured relationship. It diffuses the situation, potentially disarms the client and opens the lines to further communication and resolution.
Sometimes the best way to tackle a bad review is to just bite the bullet and respond.
“When I receive a negative review, I believe the best way to handle the situation is to offer an answer to the negative review,” says Dallas-based Realtor Jeff Knox of Knox & Associates Real Estate Brokerage. “It is my belief that by being silent, you are somewhat admitting truth to the negative comment(s).”
Your response will be seen by the public long after the situation in question but could have repercussions years down the road. Knox suggests taking time “to write a well-thought-out, well-planned and well-written response.”
- Don’t ever say anything false or misleading.
- Do not exaggerate facts.
- Simply write your truthful version of the events/experience with this client.
“Remember, there are always two sides to the story,” adds Knox. “When you write a well-written response to the negative comment, most normal people will see there are two sides to the story. And, as most likely the reader(s) of your reply also are employed, they are likely to identify with your response, especially if you have done nothing wrong.”
“Show Off” Bad Reviews
“Whaaaat???” you may ask. Yes, says Evan Harris, co-founder of the successful real estate finance company SD Equity Partners in San Diego, California. Harris and his team believe reviews “are a big selling point in the housing industry.” Even the bad ones.
“Bad testimonials happen from time to time, and we suggest showing a potential client a bad testimonial as a way to demonstrate the growth and flexibility in your company,” says Harris. “Putting up a bad testimonial on your website is usually a bad idea, but in an in-person meeting, where you can explain the story behind the testimonial and how you overcame the issues, a negative testimonial can become a benefit.”
It may seem counterintuitive, but in a world where real estate professionals need to establish trust from the get-go and continually keep that trust throughout the relationship, showing a little vulnerability may not be a bad idea. Just keep them to a minimum and make sure they make a point that helps you.
Get Ahead of It
You can also anticipate a potential client’s mentioning a bad review they read. Check forums and review sites often so that you can be prepared should it come up.
Client surveys are a great way to anticipate any issues from clients before they get posted online. Make sure that sending one via email using a free service like SurveyMonkey or even Google Forms is a consistent part of your process.
Most of all, don’t worry about bad reviews – they are not the end of the world. By employing steps to mitigate the situation, you can ensure that you continue to deliver excellent customer service and make things right.