Beth Shea Palmer is a Hawaii-based freelance writer with nine years of experience reporting and editing for the Chicago Tribune, AOL, Advertising Age, and other publications. Connect with Beth at bethsheapalmer.pressfolios.com.
Give Today’s Customers What They Expect
Find out how digital ratings and reviews provide transparency in real estate and raise the bar for customer service.
September 22, 2015
Find out why Nelson Goulart, broker-owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Signature Service outside Toronto, swears by the power of ratings and reviews in part four of a four-part series on building a client-centric culture.
Eat out; leave a review on Yelp. Stay at a hotel; leave a review on TripAdvisor. Buy or sell a home; leave a review … where? In the digital age, consumers are king and queen, but a ubiquitous digital rating and review system for real estate agents has yet to emerge.
One broker-owner hopes for a change: Nelson Goulart, broker of record and co-owner, along with his wife, Maria, of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Signature Service outside Toronto. He says rolling out a digital survey system to his 50 brokers earlier this year provided them with real-time analytics, insights, and validation.
Offering a digital survey to clients, Goulart says, is an important way get up to speed with the times. Many clients, especially millennials, not only like leaving reviews but have come to expect the ability to do so.
“Today’s consumer wants to rate and comment on everything,” Goulart says. “It’s a great way to keep tabs on customer needs and wants.”
Part one: Joseph and JoAnn Callaway, broker-owners of Those Callaways in Scottsdale, Ariz., share insights on how to put clients first.
Part two: Patricia Choi, president and principal of Choi International in Honolulu talks about how consistency and southern hospitality have helped her build a client-centric brokerage.
Part three: Kelly Yock and Steve Nassar of Premiere Property Group in Portland, Ore., talk about how freeing up agents' time allows them to build better customer relationships.
While some brokers use SurveyMonkey or Reach150 for digital surveys, Goulart chose RealSatisfied, which gives customers a way to have their voice heard when their real estate purchase or sale is complete with just a few clicks. Plus, the platform also offers real-time analytics for brokers and agents. Like HomeLight, Stik, or Mountain of Agents, RealSatisfied also becomes a way for potential clients to research and choose agents by automatically producing individual agent profile websites displaying customer feedback and survey performance.
Goulart says the process is simple for agents and clients. After each transaction is completed, Goulart’s agents e-mail the client a RealSatisfied survey link. Clients rate their satisfaction and other qualities using one to five stars; they’re prompted to leave feedback on what could be improved, as well as a testimonial. Results automatically populate in each agent’s analytics dashboard, on the broker’s companywide analytics dashboard, and on each agent’s client-facing RealSatisfied profile website. If a client leaves a low rating on the survey, a flag through the survey system immediately alerts Goulart so he can follow up with a phone call. Everyone who fills out a survey receives a Starbucks gift card from his agency as a thank you, he says.
Before implementing a survey system, “there wasn’t a vessel for client feedback: it was word of mouth or asking for a testimonial, but often not getting quality, personal referrals,” he says.
At a previous agency, Goulart used postal mail surveys. “We would have been happy to see a 34 percent return,” he says. But since his company implemented the digital surveys earlier this year, about 64 percent of clients have filled it out. At this rate, he expects to have 300 surveys completed by the end of the year.
Goulart says in the past, agents have expressed frustration when a previous client chose to work with a different agent. Goulart sees the survey as a potential solution to this issue as it allows clients to easily express feedback and voice issues, which an agent can address promptly.
While he doesn’t yet know the influence the survey made on referrals and hasn’t received any negative responses, he noticed a boost in his agents’ enthusiasm for the survey system after they started seeing positive feedback flow in.
For example, one of his agents received a testimonial attributing survey results and reviews on the agent’s RealSatisfied profile website as the number one reason the customer chose the agent.
“It’s a third-party insight into the work the agents are doing,” Goulart says. “If agents put in extra diligence and effort, it shows validation.”
As the broker of record, Goulart says RealSatisfied’s real-time results also help him lead the company in the right direction. For example, he has a pulse on how the majority of clients found his agency: The survey asks if the client is a referral, found the agency online, or came to it through other means. He monitors the results and targets agent training toward the areas where they are seeing the most inbound traffic.
“This gives us real numbers,” Goulart says. “For example, we know 15 percent of our business is coming from online. We can say, this is our marketplace, not another city. It cuts through the noise.”
The digital survey is a powerful and needed tool, Goulart says.
“I always believe the customer should have a strong voice,” he says. “I hope it will take off in the industry. The industry needs it.”
Read more about why you should seize control of your online identity, and learn about new tools coming from realtor.com®, including enhanced agent profiles.