90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. And 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Now that you’ve had a moment to digest those numbers let’s talk about review systems. And, more importantly, why you need to treat them with as much importance as you would a landlord with a five-bedroom detached house in Chelsea.
People trust people! And online reviews offer a layer of authenticity that is unrivalled. There’s no snazzy brand message or smart campaign - it’s the word of the people, and in this day and age, the power of their word is conclusive.
Positive online reviews offer trust and put you in the driving seat for attracting more landlords. But getting one or two isn’t enough. You need to nurture your online reputation and keep working towards improving it at every chance.
Which means that you might like to know a few handy tips on how to build your online reputation, right? 😜
Doing online reviews well vs doing them poorly (or not at all)
The difference between a strong online review game and a weak one is like night and day. Do them well, and you will improve communications and customer service. Do them poorly, however, and the negative effects could be long-lasting.
We get why you might be hesitant to put yourself “out there”. The idea of negative reviews from disgruntled customers giving your agency a bad reputation is enough to make someone think twice - especially if you had tried your best with the customer and it was all one big misunderstanding.
But in reality, a few bad online reviews lost in a sea of positive ones is still far better for your agency than not having a presence at all. The pros substantially outweigh the cons, and getting good online reviews from landlords and renters will create positive vibes around your agency.
Once you enter the online world of reviews, make sure you are consistent with getting people to provide feedback. Only one or two reviews - especially if they are old - makes it look like you’re not invested, which can lead people to believe you might act the same way when providing them with a service.
Keep the reviews coming, build a happy customer base, and watch the new landlords and tenants roll in.
The psychology of online reviews
Please do take a virtual seat while we kick game on our psychology knowledge. Ok, so while we’re not qualified experts, we do have a few interesting takeaways about online reviews and how they impact customer mindsets.
A study from Reevoo found that even negative reviews have the power to generate goodwill for a brand. They do say any press is good press, after all. It turns out that consumers who interact with negative reviews spend four times longer on sites, boosting overall conversion rates by 67%.
It just so happens that customers who see only five-star reviews often think they’re a little too perfect. PowerReviews found that positive decision-making occurs with reviews that have average ratings of between 4.0 and 4.7.
Now, we’re not telling you to go out there and get loads of bad reviews from your landlords and renters - that would be cray cray, as the kids say. But as long as you provide a good service and show your customers that you care, there is a high chance that you will create a strong online reputation that helps boost business.
Many reviews systems these days offer a feature where you can reply to reviews. Not only does this give you an opportunity to have your say, but it also shows future customers that you do care, you do act on feedback and you are pro-active with resolving issues.
Reviews can change an industry for the better
Ever been in an Uber and the driver offers you water? Sweets? Reviews and ratings have truly revolutionised customer service in other industries that have historically been pretty poor. Compare your Uber driver of today, incentivised by building his/her rating by making customers happy, to the traditional London cabby of yesterday. Picture the scene (I'm sure most of you will remember!)... You're waiting outside in the rain, trying to flag down a cab, you've seen several fly past and ignore you, and finally one stops. You jump for joy and run over the the friendly cabby, who asks where you're heading... and then this happens: "Sorry love, I'm not going that way!". Cabby rolls up the window and drives off. Don't be the cabby. Be the Uber driver! Be the best!
Where, who, what, how?
Ok, so you’ve established that online reviews rock (even if you get the odd bad one). Now it’s just a case of which platform you’re going to use to give your lovely customers the chance to say awesome things about you.
Turns out there are loads and, it can feel a little overwhelming. Here’s a little breakdown of what’s out there, then we'll get to choosing where to start!
- Trustpilot: One of the most popular online review platforms, Trustpilot allows you to upload mailing lists and send out invites directly to your customers.
- Google Reviews: Good-quality reviews on Google not only help to boost the reputation of your agency but they also improve SEO rankings. That means more people will find your site while looking for agents in your area. It’s a win-win.
- Facebook: Everyone and their gran uses Facebook, which means its an excellent platform to spread the word. No fake news needed here, though. Motivate your customers to leave great reviews after that A-star service you gave them.
- Yelp: The original online review platform, Yelp isn’t as popular as it once was but is an easily recognisable name.
- Reevoo: Reevoo makes a big deal out of never deleting bias or negative reviews, which means all comments are 100 percent genuine.
- Movebubble: We’re for renters, which means any agent signing up gets direct feedback on a property-only app from the people who rent those lovely homes from them.
But where do I start?
Looking at the list above, it looks like you need to hire a full time 'Reviews Manager'... but don't worry, it doesn't have to be that time consuming. You don't have do them all, and you certainly won't succeed if you spread your focus too widely. Here are some questions to help you choose where to start.
- Which platform do you have the most traction on currently? Are you nailing your Facebook page engagement? Are you close to the top on Google for 'letting agents in (area)'? Start in the place where your reviews will have the most (positive) impact
- Where are your audience hanging out? Check out our article about putting the customer first. Once you know exactly who your audience are, you can make sure you choose a reviews platform that works well for them too.
- Work it into your everyday processes. It has to be easy for you to send out the review requests, otherwise you'll just forget. If you're the driving force in your agency, why not write a small template with a link that you and your colleagues can all use?
- Give renters and landlords a compelling reason to review you. You'd hope that they'd do it out of the kindness of their hearts... but the reality is that people are super busy. Consider incentives such as competitions to win something, or go for a really heartfelt request. For Movebubble, app reviews boost out ranking in the app store, so we ask renters to help us spread the word of Movebubble, so that we can continue to make renting better for everyone!
- Reduce the barrier to entry. This basically means, make it easy!! The renter needs to be able to leave the review in the least amount of clicks. There's no way they'll open up a computer, google your company, sign up for a new google account, write a lengthy review... it's just not going to happen. It really needs to take them to a review comment box in one click from your email! There's no harm in letting them know how easy it will be too 😉
- Try and spread out the reviews. If you send a mass email on one day and get 10 reviews, then get nothing for months, it looks pretty dodgy. People aren't silly, they can smell a 'paid' review a mile away! It will look like you've paid for fake reviews if you get them all at the same time, so try to request reviews each week and get a regular stream coming in.
Build your reputation online without even trying
Ok, so all this reviews stuff sounds like quite an effort right? We agree, and so we've created a way for agents to build their reputation without even trying! Agents using the Movebubble app are getting ratings all the time, and it's all totally automated. By using the app to chat to renters, schedule viewings and accept offers, agents can collect ratings - just by doing their day job! The app prompts renters to rate agents after a viewing, and other key stats are measured too. For example, we keep an eye on how long it takes agents to respond to the renter, and how much of the time they actually respond. Yep, it sounds crazy, but some agents don't bother to respond to all their renter leads!! The mind boggles...
Anyway, what's even better is that Movebubble Verified Agents are then able to use their ratings and performance stats to win new landlords. Intrigued? Why not get in touch to find out more!
Go that extra mile for renter
We know you guys are trying hard to do a great job every day, but that's not always enough. Consumers tend to leave reviews for two reasons. They are super angry, or they are totally and utterly amazing and pleasantly surprised! We think that agent's less that desired stereotype offers a huge opportunity here for you guys to delight and surprise the customer... by going the extra mile for them.
So what can you do to get that 5 star review? Providing an excellent service goes without saying, but going that extra mile can really make the difference between a good service and a stellar one. Be knowledgeable about your local market and listen to renters’ needs.
Be available to respond - renters live a busy life and it’s not always possible to communicate during business hours. People practically live in their smartphones, and lot’s of dialogue takes place between messages these days. It doesn’t take much to fire off a quick response outside of business hours.
Communicate on their terms. We live in an age where everyone is available 24/7, and via their smartphone. If renters want to chat with you, then make the effort to communicate with them in that way. Offer video-viewings for renters who are out of the country but love the property. Because, why not?!
These little tweaks to the way you work (if you’re not already) will make a big difference and will see your overall standing with renters increase. The result will be more landlords looking at you as the go-to agent to instruct their property.
Get more advice and see which agents are doing well and with the top 10 agents in London list.