You’ve Lost Your Trulia Reviews, Now What? 3 Things You Need To Do Now

Trulia Reviews- Now What (1)1

Ok, it’s almost the weekend, but I have a small project for you. As you may have heard, (as part of their acquisition transition recently) the Zillow Group merged Trulia profiles to Zillow profiles. In the process, many agents lost some (or many) of their Trulia reviews. (We recently wrote about this here.) All is not lost, and this may be a silver lining opportunity. 

Use This As An Opportunity to Reach Out to Past Clients

First and foremost, remember that it’s not the number of reviews you have, but the quality of those reviews. If there were high quality reviews that you lost from clients that you may still have in your database, use this as an opportunity to reach out again. If you feel really comfortable with them, thank them once again for their review, and ask them if they wouldn’t mind sharing another? We have found that most often, past clients who know you’ll be sending them another request, and who love your service, will go the extra mile for you. You may even be surprised where the conversation goes, and it could lead to new business.

Tip: RealSatisfied makes it easy to go back and ask past clients for their feedback and collect a testimonial that you can use and share in many places. Since we are a third party provider asking on your behalf, they are often most willing to give you new feedback.  

Create a Review Management System for Your Business                                                                                         

Reviews and testimonials – in any form that you collect is your content. You need to own it. That is nothing new on the web. If you have directed your clients to do a review on Yelp or Zillow for example, you can still make a copy to have. Secondly, any reviews or testimonials that you may have stashed on your computer, in an email, or are still coming in off a fresh, successful close – Get them uploaded into one central location. If you don’t have a system for asking for feedback that is simple that you can use at every close — create one.

  • Set up a follow email after close to let your clients know that you will be asking for feedback and you would love their input.
  • Create an email form that allows them to answer a few questions and add in a testimonial, OR create a testimonial video
  • After receiving their testimonial, make sure to thank them! Send them a gift card, take them to coffee – but let them know how much you appreciate them.

Tip: RealSatisfied can automate this process for you, and it’s so easy to do. You can even thank them with our “Say Thank you with a Coffee” Starbucks Gift Card after you have received your survey and testimonial.  

Create a Public Profile Page or Review Page on Your Website

If you are the type that has testimonials scattered and dotted all over the Internet – it’s not a bad thing really, but again it’s a matter of managing that content. So, a couple of quick ideas for you:

  • Create a page on your website just for reviews. 
  • If you don’t have a website, you can use our profile pages that can display all of your reviews in one highly SEO’d spot. (note: you can’t import testimonials from the past, but you can re-collect and collect them through our system for display)

Tip: For your website pages we have a few options for you: our RSS feed from your profile page that you can display, a javascript option, and a WordPress plugin if your site that sits on WP.

In short, your hard work with clients who love you cannot be handled lightly. No matter your opinion of the portals, online reviews are here to stay and will continue to be a huge source of referral and repeat business for you. Whether it’s through RealSatisfied or another system you create and manage – it should be easy, safe, and more importantly owned by you.

 

 

 

In Which I Applaud Zillow For Scrapping Trulia Reviews

Les-Chatfield-on-flickr-copy

It did not shock me when Zillow announced they would NOT be accepting large numbers of Trulia reviews into the newly combined Zillow/Trulia review platform. It also did not shock me that more than a few agents were up in arms about it. Many, obviously, had spent a great deal of time amassing a treasure trove of recommendations and reviews using the Trulia platform. I’m certain of that.

What I’m equally sure of is that a small percentage of agents were using the extremely loose nature of their “Add” Recommendations process to populate the site with completely bogus reviews.  And that very small minority, quite frankly, should not be surprised either.

I won’t pull punches, it’s Trulia’s fault.

Trulia (pre-Zillow) created a process that was simply too easy to game. We wrote about the potential for abuse of Trulia’s process in April of 2014, in commenting on syndication – “They have provided a very simple way of adding testimonials you have received from your clients. And while we see Trulia’s “Add” Recommendations options  as being wide open for abuse, we want our clients to know it exists, and to use it knowing that the integrity of what they are providing is not compromised by the process.”

We encouraged our clients to take advantage of it, not to game the system, but because RealSatisfied had already taken the appropriate measures to insure that an actual client was leaving the review. And our clients who took advantage of this can at least take comfort that their data has not been lost in this process. There is an obvious benefit to owning your data.

Zillow has always been serious about creating trust around their review data. Zillow has always had strict review requirements. So have we. In contrast, Trulia never attempted to verify the authenticity of the reviews they collected.  It’s that simple.

Instead of being lambasted for taking down reviews that are now impossible to verify, they should be applauded for protecting the integrity of the reviews that have been verified. Zillow was left with no other option. And while I’m certain a number of authentic reviews have been lost in the process, it was the right thing to do.

(Photo: Creative Commons with changes via Les Chatfield)
RealSatisfied Growth

Worth At Least 1000 Words – Visualizing Growth

When you live every day in the midst of  platform growth, it’s often difficult to judge the changes happening around you. It’s not unlike having children. They’re growing and you know it, but they’re with you all the time. The extent of the growth doesn’t really hit you until you see a photo or video from the recent past and realize just how much they’ve grown in such a short time. That’s a bit how I feel right now.

Take a look at this 60 second visual history of RealSatisfied buyer and seller survey returns in the United States. Every blip represents a returned client survey across the history of our presence in the United States… from our beta launch in December 2011 to August 21, 2015. (Double click on your area to get a closer look.) It’s a powerful illustration of the adoption of our platform across the country. Holy cow! I can’t believe how much this child has grown. I want to pinch it’s virtual cheeks and give it a hug. And I can’t wait to see what it looks like in a year.

Absence Of Feedback Is Not A Sign Of Satisfaction

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“The absence of feedback is not a sign of satisfaction,” wrote Vala Afshar, Chief Digital Evangelist at Salesforce. “Indifference is awfully quiet and the true enemy.”

Indifference to your product or service is difficult to see. In the absence of direct feedback, it must be inferred. That can be tricky, but it’s a piece of information that can be invaluable when the bulk of your business is built on the back of referrals, like most real estate businesses are. Clients who are indifferent are certainly not going to be going out of their way to recommend you to their friends and family.

Using Response Rates To Uncover Indifference

One of the most interesting pictures that can be painted by the data we collect for our clients, if they’re using RealSatisfied correctly, is the picture of indifference. Customer satisfaction ratings are not built by the indifferent. They are built on the backs of those who care enough to take the time respond. This is just one of the reasons why it’s possible for two real estate agents to display matching customer satisfaction scores, and have two completely different levels of true customer satisfaction.

Here’s an example. Agent A closes 10 deals and sends a RealSatisfied customer satisfaction survey to 10 clients and 7 clients respond to the survey. Agent B closes 10 deals and sends a survey to all 10 clients and 3 clients respond to the survey. Both agents informed their respective clients that a survey would be sent at the close of the transaction. Both agents work for the same real estate brand in the same office. Both agents receive a customer satisfaction rating of 97% – Agent A based on 7 responses, Agent B based on 3 responses. Which agent has happier, more engaged customers? I’d argue Agent A by a wide margin.

Using Customer Satisfaction Surveys To Uncover Hidden Signals

We see a wide variety of behaviors around the sending of customer satisfaction surveys in our ecosystem. Some offices clearly do a better job of training agents on how to communicate with clients about the importance of feedback than others do. Those differences have a major impact on response rates. It’s no accident that customers like Meybohm REALTORS® in Augusta, Georgia have a statistically higher response rate than our average customer. We’ve written about Meybohm’s success and how they communicate in advance of surveys to insure higher response rates.

In an environment where surveys are sent for every completed transaction and where agents are consistent in informing clients that a survey will be sent by a neutral third-party at the close of the transaction, wide variances in response rates can certainly be a signal of indifference. Brokers who are paying attention have the opportunity to help agents uncover what might be causing those differences, and helping them fix those problems could be a key to unlocking increased referrals and improved performance. Our goal today is to get more brokers and agents to pay attention to response rates. This is data that is not visible to the public, so change will only occur if brokers and agents take advantage of this information.

Creating The Right Environment

None of what I’m talking about is possible unless the right conditions are present. The following must be in place before anything can be inferred from low response rates.

  • Brokers must provide agents with proper training and tools. Agents need to be equipped to properly inform clients about how their performance is being measured and why their feedback is valuable. Tools can include printed pieces included in listing presentations and at closing and “scripts” agents can use to ensure clients are aware of coming surveys. We have created some templates to act as a guide: North America: Download The Full Package  Australia: Download The Full Package 
  • All closed transactions need to be surveyed. Suffice it to say, in an environment where some agents survey all clients and other agents cherry pick who receives surveys, nothing can be inferred from response rates. The indifference in that situations sits with the agent, not the client. That’s a whole different issue.
  • Response rates should be closely monitored. Client response rates need to be seen as a leading indicator of customer satisfaction health and brand strength. Happy clients are willing to provide detailed feedback. Top performing agents in our system have significantly higher than average response rates. We see it time and time again.

Indifference is a indeed quiet. However, we believe we can help you turn up the volume by focusing on a key indicator. Once you’ve created an environment where feedback is both desired and consistently sought, using response rates as an indicator of possible training opportunities is then possible.

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featured photo by Mihaly Borbely on Flickr

 

I Am Lucky, Startups Are Hard

A week or two ago Jeff​ posted on facebook briefly about the ups and downs of building a business. He doesn’t know it, but I must have read that post 20 times or more. Now, after a week with some of our team in San Francisco for Inman Connect, I have found myself thinking about this a lot.

Startups are hard. That’s not a complaint, it’s just a genuine and honest observation (albeit perhaps an obvious one). The ups and downs can be pretty wild – and some of the downs can be straight up scary.

Facing My Fears – A Turning Point

Both David and I have been travelling from Australia to the the US and Canada since Jan 2012 to work on our business. Until mid last year, I used to fly home really happy with the progress we had made. Each time, however, in my dark little place I don’t talk about, I wondered to myself if that was the last trip I would make.

I told not a soul. I never had the courage to tell anyone. I couldn’t face the idea that I was allowing myself to fear failure. And I did fear it. I feared it a lot. For a time I knew it was having a less than positive impact on me and our potential.

My wife knew, I’m sure, though she never said so, but she knew. You can tell the way someone cares for you and supports you when you are clearly a little fragile, but she never confronted it. Perhaps it was for fear that the little house of cards that can be the confidence of the entrepreneur may come tumbling down.

I’ve come to realise that this all changed in the back half of last year – the catalyst was two very sad personal events. I took them both very hard. But if there was a positive to come out of them, it was that I think stopped fearing failure. I still respect failure, but I no longer wanted to let it hold me back. You get one swing, you should make it the best one you have.

Moving My Family To The United States 

With that, we (wife and two kids) made the decision to relocate to Chicago for awhile. We had a return date when we took off… it was changed… twice. 3 months quickly turned into 11. We moved here with 5 suitcases – nothing else. It was what I needed. It was what the business needed. It was a great adventure for my family. It was also hard. People do it every day, but it’s hard.

It’s been a year in which I’ve learned a lot about myself. I learned I can push myself harder than I thought. I’ve learned about my limitations and how to navigate them… and I’m still learning about them.

We have had a lot of highs this year – and this week has been no exception. The funny thing about startups, it how your goals change. If I was told a year ago what was to happen this week, I would had trouble believing it, but also would have feared screwing it up over the next 12 months. One of the big learnings is you can do more than you think you can. If you think it can’t be done – it won’t be. Dare to dream, allow yourself to believe that you can achieve more than you think and you give yourself a shot, a chance… sometimes it’s all you need.

Startups are hard. Startups are stressful. Doing it with great people that share your vision & enthusiasm makes it so much easier.

It Is Now Clear To Me That I Am Lucky

I am lucky I married up. My wife is a list maker. List makers like structure, predictability and to know what’s next. In the past few years she has had none of these things. For much of the last year she has not even known where we would be living in 6 months or a year. Sure there’s been moments when we’ve both said ‘what are we doing?‘ but she has never lost the faith and that takes guts… especially for a list maker. She is a brilliant mum and simply a great partner. I would have achieved nothing without her – she is my real secret weapon. Lucky.

I am lucky that I get to do this with my best mate. We’ve known each other since we were 11, we are now 42 and have had a business together since we were 29. Some days you think it makes it harder, but really it makes it so much easier and the highs are like nothing else when you share them with someone that is so much a part of who you are. David, no matter what anyone else says, you’re alright – I proudly claim you as my mate every day.

I am lucky we have the right partner. We met, by total chance, one of the best guys in the real estate industry and he took a risk on us and what he saw. It’s more than that though – we didn’t know it at the time, it only became obvious as we came to know him that we simply could not have partnered with a better person, both professionally and personally. Jeff you are one of a kind. When you and your family sit for dinner tonight, that is my ‘thankful for’.

I am lucky to have great support. Jeff also brought with him someone that had over 10 years experience supporting customers in the real estate industry on a SaaS platform. Now that WAS lucky. We had a turn key support operation ready to switch on when the time came. Lucky… again. Juli, you jumped straight in as we went through some amazing growth. It was virtually seamless. You are a star.

I am lucky to have a great new team member. I spent much of this past week being reminded, by anyone and everyone who knows us, how lucky we are with the most recent member to join our team. This past week she demonstrated that she is a total Pro. She has been with us 4 weeks and handled meetings this week like she had been with us since the start. Laura, you have slotted right into our team as if you were always there.

Luck Is A Byproduct Of Hard Work

Nobody knows more than my family and my team that I have struggled to “turn off” in the past 10 months. Partly this is because I believe so much in what we are doing, partly because I am working with such a great team and want to make the most of every opportunity we have, and partly because I seem to have some kind of OCD it seems. Mostly though, it’s because I really do love my job. This can make it hard on those around you — your family and your team. Startups can be hard on everyone.

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last year, but the most important thing I have learned is to not fear failure. Work hard, focus on your goal/s, be true to your vision, your product and your customers. If you do these things you leave no room for doubts over whether you did enough. And cut yourself a break, more often than not, luck is simply a byproduct of hard work.

There’s still more to do, there always is – but I wanted to take a moment to recognise, for our team, what we have achieved so far, to celebrate the moment, this high. It doesn’t always feel like this. It’s best to soak it all in when it does.

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footnote: This started as a facebook post, but it didn’t feel quiet right – I’ve never written a personal blog post, I may never again. It probably doesn’t really fit on this blog – but I have no other. As I re-read it now, it may be some kind of therapy. Certainly it was written as much for me as it was for those that are mentioned. If you read this far thank you for indulging me.