How to Respond to Negative Real Estate Reviews
Online reviews are an essential component of doing business as a real estate agent. On sites like Google Places, Yelp, Rate My Agent, Homely, and social media, people will post reviews of real estate agents. What will you do if you have negative reviews? How do you handle it?
Luckily for you, CORE Member, for today’s blog we will be talking about How to Respond to Negative Real Estate Reviews. Remember, that while the first step is completing any of this amazing information, the second and possibly more important step is taking action even if it’s imperfect action.
Every real estate agent understands the benefits and power of positive online reviews. Reviews are an integral part of our lives online and our decision-making offline. Yet no matter how many positive reviews you’ve received, a negative real estate review can stick out like a sore thumb. It’s fair to say that some clients have unreasonably high expectations and can never be satisfied by even the best service, but that won’t stop them from writing an impassioned, scathing review when given the chance. After all, purchasing real estate is one of the most significant, emotional investments someone will make in their lifetime.
Fortunately, a negative review isn’t always horrible – it can show viewers that the realtor is genuine and that no one can be perfect no matter how much you want to make your client’s dreams come true. Unfortunately, a negative review can also significantly bring your ranking down on some review sites, and websites are not always willing to take them down, nor are clients always willing to be agreeable.
One of our mentors once said, “It takes 25 years to build a reputation and ten minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Now that 85 percent of homebuyers use the Internet during the home buying process (NAR), your online reputation can mean the difference between gaining a new client and losing one to the competition. This is why reputation management is such an important aspect of your business.
No one is perfect, so you can expect that at some point in your career, there will be a client or two that is simply not satisfied with the level of service they received. Even if their issue lies with something completely out of your hands, like a loan not being approved, they will undoubtedly voice their opinion about it online.
Eighty-four percent of consumers are more willing to spread the bad experience than the good one (Salesforce). Today’s consumer expects transparency, which means that regardless of whether people are speaking positively or negatively about your business, their comments should be available for others to see. While your first instinct may be to simply delete any negative feedback you find online, there are plenty of ways to handle this type of situation in a way that will show why you’re the local real estate expert.
First, let’s examine the most popular review platforms and their guidelines, and then we’ll discuss how to handle negative reviews in every circumstance.
Your website provides you with greater control over your reviews than any other platform. However, it is not recommended that you delete all of your negative reviews. Customers will find alternative, more public ways to provide feedback (such as Google My Business), and they will be even more frustrated than before. Take the time to carefully respond to each negative review, and the reviewer may agree to have their comment removed from your website.
My Google Business
Google typically only allows businesses to remove reviews if they violate the site’s policies. Included among the prohibited behaviors are harassment, fake reviews, and personal information. However, it is not permitted to remove a review simply because you disagree with it. Google will not go above and beyond to verify the validity of your client’s experience because it is extremely difficult for them to do so.
There is currently no quick way to remove negative testimonials from Facebook. However, business page owners have the option to report reviews that are spam or violate Facebook’s community guidelines.
While Zillow does not permit agents to delete reviews, the platform does guide how to handle negative reviews. Furthermore, Zillow recommends contacting their mortgage support team if all else fails.
Realtor.com goes above and beyond by reviewing each review before its publication on your profile. This way, spammy or harassing comments can be prevented from being published. However, only negative reviews will likely be displayed on your profile and cannot be removed. To save face in this situation, a calculated and deliberate response is your best bet. If the review has a significant impact on your overall rating, realtor.com allows you to remove your overall rating from your profile.
If your real estate company has received a less-than-stellar review, there are a plethora of ways to rectify the situation. The following advice will show you how to handle negative real estate reviews like a pro and come out ahead, rather than losing clients.
How to Deal with Unfavorable Real Estate Reviews
- Confirm the Evaluation
Some individuals simply enjoy leaving negative reviews to stir up business owners. If the review is not from a client, it may violate community guidelines; if so, you can take steps to have it removed. If you feel compelled to respond, kindly indicate that they are not yet a client so that other viewers do not get the wrong impression.
- Accept the Problem
The initial step in responding to a negative review is to recognize the customer’s issue and frustration. Before attempting to repair the issue, clients want assurance that they have a thorough understanding of the problem and will take the appropriate steps to resolve it.
If the issue cannot be resolved through private discussions, consider doing something to demonstrate your concern for the customer. This could be a simple present like a painting for their new home, a gift card, or movie tickets. Such a gesture will leave a positive impression on your customers, even if you did not directly resolve their issue. However, do not attach any restrictions to the gift. For instance, do not request that they change their negative review in exchange. Such manipulations could result in legal complications.
- Do not respond when angry
You work diligently to provide your clients with the desired experience, so a public testimonial of your failures can be personally offensive. Never respond to a negative review when you are angry or emotionally charged. Before composing a response, put yourself in a professional frame of mind and consider the situation from the client’s viewpoint.
- React Rapidly
Negative word-of-mouth spreads rapidly, so it’s best to respond quickly before other prospective clients learn of the negative testimonial. The rapid response demonstrates to all of your clients that you place a premium on providing superior service. In any case, if someone is enraged enough to take the time to write a verified negative review, they merit your prompt attention.
Whether or not the commenter’s complaint is valid, you should acknowledge the problem they raise, apologize for how it has affected them, and take responsibility for providing them with answers. You want your followers to see that you completed this on time to demonstrate that you are attentive to your client’s requirements.
This rule is an exception if the negative review accuses you or your brokerage of a serious offense. In this case, you may wish to seek legal counsel before responding online.
- Don’t Get Defensive
If there was a complete misunderstanding, it may be difficult to appear apologetic and sympathetic in your response. Focus on the overall objective, which is to restore peace and leave all parties satisfied and content. Again, putting yourself in your client’s shoes can be profitable.
If you made a mistake, acknowledge it in your update. You will demonstrate to your followers that you accept responsibility for your actions and work diligently to correct your errors.
- Establish a Method for Routinely Examining Your Review Pages
You cannot respond to negative feedback if you are unaware of its location. Create a procedure for yourself or your team to check and respond to reviews on all of your review platforms regularly. Occasionally, you may wish to Google your name to determine if there are reviews of you on forums that you were unaware of.
Once the issue has been resolved, publish an update stating that you contacted the commenter and detailing what transpired. Ask the commenter if they are willing to contribute their update.
- Move Serious Conversations Offline
If a negative review requires further discussion or other action, address it politely on the review platform and then attempt direct contact with the reviewer. Invite the commenter to communicate with you privately via social media direct message, phone, or email. On Facebook, business pages can send private messages to commenters to immediately address complaints and protect their privacy. Determine the specifics of the commenter’s complaint, investigate what went wrong, and attempt to reach a mutually agreeable resolution.
If you are unable to locate the reviewer’s contact information, include your contact information at the end of your response and suggest they contact you for more information on how to resolve the issue.
- Anticipate negative reviews
Clients in the real estate industry frequently leave negative reviews as a last resort if they are unable to reach you in any other way. Ensure that your contact information is up-to-date across all of your platforms and respond quickly to direct complaints from homebuyers and sellers to avoid seeing them appear online in the future.
- Highlight Positive Testimonials
As part of your real estate marketing strategy, you should make sharing your positive real estate reviews a habit. When your audience is accustomed to seeing positive reviews on your website, social media platforms, and other forums, negative reviews will have less of an adverse effect.
If you don’t currently have enough reviews, remember to ask clients for feedback after you’ve worked with them. Include a review request or call to action in your thank you letters and email signatures. If you haven’t sold many homes yet, request positive character references from people you know to build your reputation.
- Always express gratitude and appreciation
Be grateful that someone took the time to provide you with feedback. If the criticism is constructive, take it into account and consider how to rectify the flaw. In your response, be sure to express gratitude and mention that steps are being taken to address the specific concern.
- Add Some SEO benefits
Did you know that testimonials and responses can also provide SEO benefits? Mentioning your company’s name and available services can improve your overall search engine ranking. If you can naturally and logically incorporate relevant keywords into your positive and negative review responses, you should do so.
- Take Initiative
Clients of real estate typically post negative reviews as a last resort after all other options have failed. Therefore, the best way to reduce negative reviews is to promptly address complaints from homebuyers and home sellers. Provide a phone number and email address that your clients can use to lodge complaints with your real estate agency. These contacts should be included on your business cards, social media pages, website, and paid advertisements. Whenever a customer complains, you must act swiftly to resolve it. Keep track of all complaints and look for patterns that require attention. In this manner, you can offer solutions even before problems arise.
Customers in the real estate industry frequently leave negative reviews and comments about real estate agents because they believe they are not being heard or understood. They resort to online rants to reach a larger audience. Others simply post negative reviews for amusement or to intentionally harm your reputation. When you encounter a negative review, the greatest error you can make is to disregard it. A negative real estate agent review without a response will leave consumers with a negative impression of your company. Therefore, even if you disagree with the negative review, demonstrate that you are listening to real estate leads. Let the reviewer know that you have heard their feedback and value it.
- Update Your Status
If the issue has been satisfactorily resolved, you could request that the customer update their real estate agent review. Alternatively, you may publish a status update yourself. Describe what occurred and the nature of the issue in detail. In addition, describe what you did to help resolve the problem. If you made a mistake, you must admit it. Such sincerity will help restore customers’ and prospects’ confidence.
- Recognize When to Let Go
You must recognize that no matter what you do, some individuals will never be satisfied. Even after posting an apology and doing your best to resolve the issue, you will remain irritable. It is preferable to lose one customer to have peace of mind. Your prompt and cordial response in public will demonstrate your commitment to enhancing the customer experience. One negative real estate agent review cannot tarnish your reputation. Move swiftly, provide the best service, and advance your real estate agent career.
- Have a Method for Managing Reviews
When customers have a quick outlet for voicing complaints, they are less likely to do so publicly. Always solicit client feedback within seven to ten days of concluding a transaction, such as a sale or purchase of a home. Within this time frame, the process details are still fresh in their minds. This strategy will help you respond promptly to negative reviews.
- Utilize Positive Reviews to Bury Negative Reviews
While responding to negative real estate agent reviews, avoid ignoring positive feedback. When responding to positive reviews, including your company’s name as well as keywords that will improve your search engine rankings. As part of your real estate marketing strategy, you should also publish such reviews everywhere. When positive reviews saturate search engine results and social media platforms, negative reviews will gradually disappear.
- Do not delay in responding
Time is of the essence when it comes to dealing with negative reviews! The longer a negative comment remains unanswered, the greater the likelihood that other potential customers will see it and choose a competitor. Ensure that your online reputation is protected by constantly monitoring your social channels and local review sites!
- Do Demonstrate You Care
People enjoy seeing that their opinions are being considered. Even if the issue cannot be resolved immediately, respond to let them know that you are working to make things right. If you disagree with a client, you should always apologize and be respectful; your personal feelings should not affect your professional demeanor. The key here is to avoid becoming defensive and concentrate on resolving the issue at hand.
- Maintain Your Calm
Responding hastily can create a negative impression of your brand among other buyers and sellers. Regardless of what a customer may say or how angry they may be, you must always maintain your composure. Engaging in an online argument with a client while attempting to defend your actions will only harm you. Remember that you are the expert and have much more at stake than the person with whom you are conversing.
- Do Use a Personal Tone
Always respond to negative feedback on an individual basis. Providing a canned response to an online review will give the impression that you do not value the reader’s opinion. Clients and prospects can, believe it or not, see right through marketing messages. It will demonstrate that you have taken the time out of your day to address their problem. Additionally, it’s always pleasant to know that you’re speaking with a person and not an automated system.
- Change negative ratings to positive ones.
The majority of the time, once a problem has been resolved, the reviewer will gladly remove a negative comment or change it to a positive one. Whenever possible, attempt to promote this. However, exercise caution in your approach. If you believe that the reviewer is still somewhat angry or unreasonable, it may be best not to inquire.
If you know how to respond appropriately to negative reviews, they should not have a significant impact on your business. The appropriate response to a negative real estate review varies depending on the circumstances, but professionalism and action are always advantageous.
Remember to always request feedback from clients after working with them, and to record the passwords for each review site. Good luck!
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