A business-based personal referrals may not be enough in today’s market, according to a National Association of Realtors® Tech Edge speaker.
Erica Ramus, a Pottsville Realtor® and tech guru, said: “Ninety percent of consumers have read online reviews to determine the quality of a local business, to book a trip or choose a restaurant. Why wouldn’t they read a review about the most important purchase they’re ever going to make?”
In addition, Ramus said 88 percent of consumers said they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
“Think about how this affects your ‘business by referral’,” she said. “People are still recommending Realtors® to their friends but their friends are Googling you after that, before they ever call that recommendation. They want to know what the internet says about that Realtor®.”
Ramus said that means it’s important to have reviews from your clients online. “Sixty-seven percent of consumers said they read up to six reviews; 85 percent said they read up to 10 reviews and 7 percent are reading 20 or more reviews,” she said.
“We can’t ask our clients to rate and review us on 10 different sites,” Ramus said. “If you’re lucky, they’ll go to one.”
Ramus encouraged soliciting reviews from your clients with a plan and a purpose. “Know where you are getting business from now. Is that realtor.com®? Don’t waste time and energy on sites where you’re not getting business; concentrate on those platforms,” she says. Then send clients an email and ask them for a review on that specific site.
Ramus suggested Googling your own name to see what people are finding when they search for you and Google your business name. “Set up a Google alert on your name so you’ll get an email when someone says something about you online and pay attention to your online reputation,” she added. “Fix errors and make sure social media profiles are up to date, so you’re not listed at your previous company.”
Positive online reviews are crucial for a strong online presence. “We have to build online trust,” Ramus said. “People will leave good reviews if you ask them and you’ve treated them right.”
“You can do everything right and still receive a negative review,” she continued. “Sometimes it’s not anything you’ve done, but sometimes it’s something out of your control. Don’t ignore the negative reviews. While most sites don’t allow you to delete them, you should respond promptly to the review and apologize for the bad experience. It’s a wake-up call about something we did wrong.”
Ramus suggested if the review is really bad to go offline with the review. “Try sending a direct message to the reviewer and see how you can make it better. Some may go back and adjust the review.”
She said their company recently had a bad review, she emailed the consumer to explain what happened behind the scenes. “I let him know that I heard his problem and he did adjust his review,” she added.
Above all, Ramus urged, “Be polite and professional – no matter what.”