Communicate In Advance To Improve Survey Response Rates

NOTIFY CLIENTS A SURVEY IS COMINGOn average, just over 50% of people who receive a RealSatisfied customer satisfaction survey complete and return that survey. We’re pretty proud of that number, and we’re also aware that with any average, there are clients who fall below it and clients who sit firmly above it. There are some key characteristics that separate those two camps. One of them is that those who are getting higher than the average response rates all have one thing in common… they do a great job of communicating with their clients to inform them that a RealSatisfied customer satisfaction survey is coming their way.

One of our clients who is getting well above average response rates is Meybohm REALTORS® in Augusta, Georgia. Meybohm’s top three performing offices hover near a 60% survey return rate and over 70% testimonial return rate. Those numbers are simply stellar. Meybohm’s management team has done a superior job of insuring that their agents have the tools necessary to communicate properly with their clients. And the agents with the best results do it consistently.

When I met with Bill Boatman, Meybohm President,  and his team in Atlanta recently, they shared a printed flyer they produced that was included in listing and closing presentations. It was titled, “We are serious about our reputation! We hope you are RealSatisfied…” and continued, “with your real estate experience and that you’ll take a few minutes to tell us about it. After closing, look for an email from realsatisfied.com – all it takes is a few clicks of your time.” They went out of their way to insure that their agents were equipped with a tool to insure that this important piece of communication was delivered properly.

“Prior to discovering RealSatisfied at RETSO in Atlanta, our company had used a paper mail survey for a number of years,” Boatman shared. “We had achieved acceptable survey returns but desired better. When making the  switch to RealSatisfied we brainstormed ways to get maximum returns and one of the ideas we chose was to give the buyer or seller advanced warning the survey was coming. We want our clients to know we are serious about providing a remarkable real estate experience.  Since the survey comes through email it can be easily overlooked and deleted so we felt an advance piece would give awareness. We have been pleased with the results. Awarding our agents for service also gives them a strong motivation to encourage survey returns from their clients.”

We loved Meybohm’s idea so much, we asked if we could steal it.

They said, “of course.” Thankfully, Meybohm is as serious about improving the real estate industry as they are about their reputation. So, we’ve designed a version that you can download and print out for your own use. It looks like the image included here in the blog post and is available in the following formats; ,doc, .pdf and .jpg.  Just click the links to download the full package, or feel free to use this as inspiration to design your own!

North America: Download The Full Package

Australia: Download The Full Package 

Say Thank You With A Coffee

40percentdontthankIn early March, we sent a survey to our real estate clients inviting them to provide feedback on our performance and to ask their opinion about several potential new service offerings. As a result of their feedback, we quickly built and launched new services that were completely within our control, like visual testimonials.

One of the things we learned in the survey is that more than 40% of the survey respondents did not thank their clients for filling out a customer satisfaction survey. Given the level of detail we collect, we found that a bit high. As a followup question, we asked our clients if providing an option to send a gift card as a thank you would be a good idea.

55% of respondents liked the idea of a gift card as thank you for a survey response.

We believe this number may have actually been higher. In looking at the comments, a large percentage of those who did not like this option answered the question on the assumption that the gift was an incentive offered as part of the survey invitation. They answered the question in a way that indicated that they thought we might be attempting to entice a response. This was not the case. We were asking about making it easier and more meaningful to say, “thank you” after a response was already received.  So we took this as a clear indication that we should build a system to make it easier for our clients to say, “Thank you.”

Coffee is Served!

Say thanks with a coffee!

Sample email to a customer to say thanks with a coffee

Working with our partner, Tango Card, we have now secured permission from Starbucks® to offer a new program – Say Thank You With A Coffee. Beginning today, when you receive a survey response, or a survey response and a testimonial from your customers, you’ll have the option to send your customers a Starbucks® gift card as a thank you for taking the time to provide you feedback. Instructions for how this works will be included in every survey response you receive.

In addition, agents who wish to go back and thank clients who may have recently provided feedback may do so by going through the testimonial approval process again in their agent dashboard. To do this, simply select the response you wish to send a thank you for, click on review and follow the steps to send your gift card (the option to say thank with a coffee appears at the of the process). The gift card will be sent via email from you via RealSatisfied. We will provide a suggested message, but you will have the ability to customize that message in any way you see fit.

We are excited to bring this options to our clients and look forward to seeing the response!

Note: Say thanks with a coffee is initially available in the United States and Canada and all billing currently is USD only. We are exploring options for other markets, please stay tuned!

Starbucks Disclaimer: The Starbucks word mark and the Starbucks Logo are trademarks of Starbucks Corporation. Starbucks is also the owner of the Copyrights in the Starbucks Logo and the Starbucks Card designs. All rights reserved. Starbucks is not a participating partner or sponsor in this offer.

Posting RealSatisfied Verified Testimonials to Trulia

The number one question asked in our help desk is, “can I syndicate my testimonials to Zillow and Trulia like I can to realtor.com?” Frankly, no other question comes close.

We would be happy to syndicate the recommendations we gather to Trulia and Zillow, and Homes.com as well as any other site our clients find valuable to have their testimonials seen by consumers. We have pursued working with every portal, just as we did with realtor.com. Realtor.com was a willing partner from the moment the idea was presented. Ernie Graham and his team were able to do the technical aspects of the integration easily, because we use RSS as the basis for our syndication. There are no barriers to anyone accepting syndication from us. Since we can validate that RealSatisfied recommendations are coming  from real clients of the agents who use our system, there are no issues with data integrity.

Unfortunately, Zillow does not allow syndication from any source, to our knowledge, and despite our attempts to communicate with them about this at various levels of their organization, our attempts have failed. In addition, Zillow does not provide a way to add already received testimonials. Trulia also does not allow anyone to syndicate recommendations to their site, but 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.

The video embedded after these instructions will illustrate exactly how to do this, but the steps are really very simple.

  • First, copy your recommendation from your profile page at RealSatisfied. You will not have to login to do this.
  • Then, login to Trulia.com and click on the “Get Recommendations” link on the left hand side of the page. You will then be taken to a page that allows you to request recommendations from your clients. Do not use that form! Instead, click on the “add” tab and paste your RealSatisfied Verified recommendation into the testimonial field, add your client’s name, email address and choose their relationship and click “Request Verification.”
  • Your client will then be sent an email from Trulia and they will simply need to click on the link in the email to validate that they did indeed provide you with the recommendation. They will NOT be required to login to Trulia or set up a Trulia account.

As you can see, this is a painless way to get your RealSatisfied Verified Testimonials on to Trulia. It’s certainly worth the 90 second investment. As for Zillow, Homes.com and others…. we’ll keep working on integration. We’re ready when they are.

 

Saved By Criticism – A Client Success Story

“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” – Norman Vincent Peale

what_are_they_sayingAnd the challenging aspect of moving anyone to a system of consistently seeking customer feedback is their inherent fear of potential negative responses. I saw this quote above as I was looking through some posts on Google+. It brought to mind a casual conversation I had with a client who had learned the truth of  being “saved by criticism.” I asked if we could share his story here and he agreed, without hesitation.

I have to tell you, I love RealSatisfied,Adam DiFrancesco, Manager of Business Development at Better Homes And Gardens Real Estate Rand Realty wrote to us. “A few weeks ago, I got an email as Escalation Contact letting me know about a very unhappy client.  The client took the time to fill out the entire survey, and left a lengthy comment. Upon receipt, we were able to reach out to that client, and help resolve the issues to the best of our ability. In a profession where reputation is everything, having RealSatisfied is helping us ensure our reputation remains on top.”

There is value in receiving praise from a client and from the testimonials and recommendations that come as a result. And there is also considerable value in recognizing the opportunities that only reveal themselves when you open yourself up to listen to criticism and make your vulnerable to open, honest client feedback. Nobody loses when the client’s voice is heard with an ear bent toward learning.

“There’s nothing wrong with accepting compliments and praise,” Dustin Stout continued in his Google+ post on this topic. “But there is definitely a problem when you can’t take honest criticism. It’s not always easy, but it’s important. Appreciate both the praise and the criticism for what they are. You will always be better for it.”

You will always be better for it. 

 

Our Surveys Are Too Long

We hear this a good deal from real estate agents considering using RealSatisfied.

top_performer_dropoutWhere we don’t hear that our surveys are too long is from consumers. We also don’t hear it from our customers who’ve consistently experienced our results firsthand. In fact, our client’s experience and the response data support exactly the opposite conclusion. Across the board, 91% of people who start a RealSatisfied Buyer or Seller survey complete the survey. Or put another way, less than 1 in 10 people drop out of a survey once they’ve begun. And since you can’t tell how long one of our surveys is until you begin taking it, the data tells us the survey is not too long.

What’s even more interesting is that the data is even more compelling when you look only at the top performing agents in an office. We recently looked at three different companies and  broke out the top 25 agents, in terms of volume of survey events, and found that these agents experienced an even smaller dropout rate. One of the key factors – simply informing their customers that a survey was coming.  On average, more than 97% of their clients completed surveys. That is less than 3 out of 100 dropping out of a survey once they had begun.

Our goal at RealSatisfied is to gather the best and most information possible for our clients. To do that, we employ methods that insure we’re asking questions that get at the information from a number of different angles. A few days ago a potential agent client asked if they could reduce the number of questions in our buyer and seller surveys. They argued that their clients wouldn’t fill out the survey, especially since “many of the questions seem to ask for the same information.” They are right. Many of our questions do ask for the same information. There is a reason.

The goal of asking a question a number of different ways is to uncover how the client really felt about the transaction experience. To do that, you can’t simply ask five questions… or one, as proponents of the Net Promoter Score would have us believe. The data that gets returned simply won’t help you in the long run to make course corrections. You are left to guess. We don’t believe that adds real value. You often get just one shot at receiving this kind of client feedback. We believe should make the most of it.

In addition, many of our clients report that the testimonials they receive via our system are more robust. “RealSatisfied has given us a way to simply and easily ask our clients if they think we did a great job,” notes Laurie Davis, Live Love Pinehurst. “The surveys are well thought out and  give clients the opportunity to respond without having to figure out what they need to talk about.”

So, we’re happy to say that our surveys are longer than others. They capture a great deal of detail. We’re proud of that. And the numbers speak for themselves.