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. 

Increasing The Visibility Of Your Testimonials In Social Media

Messages like this are becoming common. And it has become increasingly clear that status updates posted to just about every social media site carry more weight when media is attached, specifically images. As was reported a few weeks ago by Mashable, “Tweets that include photos or video links are retweeted at a much higher rate than those with text alone, according to new Twitter data. Tweets with pictures were retweeted 35% more often than text-only tweets, and tweets with video links saw a 28% increase in retweets.” This was across all industries. In some industries, the increase was over 60%.


We’re Happy To Announce Visual Testimonials

As result, we’ve made the decision to improve the visibility of testimonials shared from RealSatisfied out to social media by turning each one into it’s own image. Starting today, when you receive a testimonial through our system and decide to share that Facebook or Twitter, it will automatically be shared with the testimonial displayed in a “Pinterest-like” quotation graphic. This graphic will also be sent to you via email when you are alerted that a testimonial has been received. Of course, you may share this graphic wherever you have the ability to upload images.

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 3.54.33 PM

Pro-Tip: You can even go back to Testimonials that you have previously received and republish them to Twitter or Facebook using the new visual Testimonials. Simply follow these steps;

  • Sign in to your Agent Profile Page
  • In the Invitations panel, change the Filter to ‘Testimonial Received’
  • Click on a survey response row, and then press ‘Review’

This will take you back through the approval process where you have the opportunity to republish your testimonial to Facebook or Twitter.To make this feature work on your Facebook Personal Profile, you will need to reconnect to Facebook from your account. It requires new permissions.

Thank you as well goes out to each of our clients who participated in our recent customer survey. 80% of the respondents to our survey indicated that they would like to see client testimonials turned into visuals and that information is what pushed us to get this feature up and in use as quickly as possible. We’re looking forward to seeing it in action. We know you are too!


Practice What You Preach: A Look At Our Own Customer Survey Results

A few weeks ago we did what we think every good customer survey company should do – practice what it preaches.

We sent a survey to a majority of our customers and asked them to provide feedback around a number of areas relative to our services and how they get delivered. We were delighted with the response and specifically delighted with the quality of feedback our customers provided.  We’d like to share a bit of what we learned and what we’ve decided to do about it.

30 Percent Don't NotifyWhat we learned: 30% of respondents don’t inform customers that they will be receiving a survey.

Our analysis: While we know the overall response rate across our entire network is stellar, over 51%, we also know that we have many clients who are getting significantly higher return rates. There are several factors that contribute to this, but one of them is the fact that agents in those high performing companies consistently inform customer in advance that they will be receiving a survey.

Many of our clients have their survey invitations sent by their broker. Their invitations are either sent via an integration with our API, or they are handled by an administrator. In these cases, agents may not know if or when a survey was officially sent.

Action we took:

In an attempt to improve both situations, we launched a simple new feature. Clients whose surveys are sent for them will be notified when the survey has been sent via email. This will allow them to better follow up and will also remind them to let clients know their input is valuable. We think this new notification is an important addition and thank those of you who suggested it!

Displaying-Your-Ratings-1_SnapseedWhat we learned: 30% of respondents would prefer star ratings.

Our analysis:  It should be noted that 50% of the respondents indicated that they would prefer to keep the % format just as it is today. Since only 3% of our clients opt to hide their ratings, how they want them to be shown is an important factor for us to consider. The full results were as follows: 50% said they would keep the display as a % number as it is now, 30% said they would like to show star ratings, as other sites do, only 9% said they would do away with showing the ratings entirely, and the remainder had no opinion or asked for other options.

Action we took:

In response, we’ve decided to give our users the option of choosing to show their ratings as either a percentage, as it is now, or to display their results as star ratings. We have completed this development and this option is now available in your profile settings. Simply choose which method you wish to display and it will be changed immediately.

40percentdontthankWhat we learned: 40% of respondents don’t thank their customers for completed surveys or testimonials.

Our analysis: One of the benefits of receiving a survey response of any kind is that it allows you to see exactly where you stand with a recent client. What better way to start off your ongoing relationship with that client than by following up with a phone call, a letter, or even an email thanking them for taking the time to give you their input, and addressing any concerns they may have expressed. In the case of a customer who may have been less than pleased, this is an opportunity to take them from someone who might not have recommended you, to someone who definitely will.

Action we will take:

We are going to review the notification we send out that alerts our clients when they have received a response and modify it to include reminders designed to keep the benefit of sending a thank you top of mind. We know it will have a positive impact.

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

Our analysis:  This number may have actually been larger. In looking at the comments, a large percentage of those who did not like this option  and 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 were 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 do just that.

Action we will take:

We are in the process of building out a system to allow you to quickly and easily send a thank you gift card to clients who have taken the time to provide feedback and/or a testimonial. We will be updating you on progress and we get closer to a launch.

01widgetWhat we learned: 75% of clients not using WordPress would like to display ratings & recommendations on their own sites.

We have had a WordPress plugin available for our clients to use for almost as long as we’ve had profile pages (this week we released an update to the plugin to making it more compatible with responsive designs). However, our survey revealed that 65% of those who responded the survey do not use WordPress. Of those 65%, 3 out of 4 would like to be able to display their ratings and recommendations on their own sites. While we also have an RSS feed available for this purpose, we realized an option for non-wordpress sites was a must.

Action we took:

We now have a widget for non-Wordpress sites. You will find it in your dashboard just above the WordPress widget box on the left hand side. There are several basic designs that you can use without editing, or you can choose to edit those designs, to give your widget colors and fonts that match your site. Or, using some simple style controls,  you can start from scratch and design your own.

What we learned: Many clients suggested that we make it easier for clients to use comments made in the survey as testimonials.

Our analysis: While the option to pull in comments has always been part of the survey form, it is something a client would have to seek out to take action on. The way they have been lead to this has not been at the forefront of the testimonial options.

Action we will take:

Our plan is to rework the final page of the survey to provide a more visible and useable option for consumers to use any comments they’ve made in the survey as the basis of their testimonial. Consumers can do this currently, but the interface will change to make this easier.

Pinterest_Quote_04_640x640What we learned: 80% of respondents would like to see client testimonials turned into visuals.

Our analysis: This is a feature we have been thinking about for a long time. We know that images shared to Facebook and Twitter get shared more often and that a visual would make the content shared from our system spread further. It would also open up the option to share to other social media sites.

Action we will take:

We have our designer working on mockups for making this happen as we write. We would like to roll this feature out as quickly as possible and will update you when we’re ready to let it fly. We think this will be a great addition to the tools available to our clients.

Those were the big things we learned.

But that’s not all we learned. The following two items are things we intend to take action on in the coming months, but have no specific plans to share with you at this time. We want you to be aware of them and know that they are in our sights.

What we learned: 35% of agents have not connected their profile page to Facebook/Twitter/

Plan of attack: build awareness across customer base for this. Create simple tutorials to explain how/why.


What we learned: Over 80% of respondents agreed that appending testimonials with media is a good idea.

Plan of attack: This one requires a bit of research, and there are lots of additional questions to be asked about the kinds of media that are appropriate, but we’re confident we can find a solution.

One of our clients, Seth Jenson, is already using tools available in Social Bios at to append media to his testimonials there.  (see Seth Jensen’s recommendation tab).

What we also learned: Our clients rock.

Thank you for your input and for your support.

The best things in life are FREE

Photo courtesy of

For a little while now we have been working towards this week. We’ve made some small steps along the way and some larger ones.

A big part of the journey to this place has been about listening to feedback, listening to our customers, gaining an improved understanding of what’s important to them and how they want to work with us.

While we don’t implement every idea or suggestion that comes to us, we do listen hard for the things that keep rising to the surface. One of those things has been single agent accounts – and this week we have delivered on that.

We are excited to announce that we now offer both Agent Lite and Agent Pro accounts*. These accounts are exclusively designed for use by single agents.

Our Agent Lite account is FREEsignup now for nix. It’s a fully featured account that provides single agents with a great opportunity to try RealSatisfied for themselves. While a 30 day trial works quite well for brokers, teams and offices – we have recognised it’s not quite right for single agents.

Agent Lite solves that – You can…

  • send as many invitations as you wish,
  • receive as many responses as you can,
  • have your own agent profile page (just like Ted Blanchard does),
  • and receive up to 3 Testimonials from your customers.

Our Agent Pro account comes with no limitations at all and at just $79 per year is a 35% reduction in price on our previous single agent pricing.

Combining this with our complete refresh of Agent Profile Pages we have delivered a compelling platform for individual agents to manage their reputation, truly listen to their customers and syndicate/publish the real recommendations to places where consumers look for them.

There’s never been a better time to open a RealSatisfied account – join 1000′s of other agents like: Ted BlanchardClaire StoneFlo VachonKristi Soligo FleshmanBill Bhamra and Ray Speichert. Get started with RealSatisfied today - IT’S FREE!

If you like you can read a little more in our press release

* Single agent accounts are currently available in the US and Canada only.