You Don’t Always Want a Client Testimonial

“Always ask for a testimonial, because you never know who will give you one.”

IMG_0807Perhaps you’ve heard this line of thinking before. It’s motivational, something you’d hear from a stage somewhere. It’s designed to get you beyond the fear of asking for a testimonial.  But it’s has a critical flaw.

Beneath the strategy of how to ask, lies a much deeper root issue. And it’s exposed by the word, “always.” Do you really want to ask for a testimonial from someone who is lukewarm about your service? How about someone who is even less than lukewarm?

Here’s what I have gathered from observation.  Most of the real estate agents I have met have never, ever had an upset real estate buyer or seller because of something they did.  They are the best of the best and they will send you all of their testimonials to prove it. The other agents in their transactions, however, that’s a different story. “They” are the ones that cause all of the problems.

So, lets talk about the “other” agent.  Whenever you get together for a cocktail or a fund raiser for RPAC, or a YPN meeting – the other agent agent, we’ll call her Annie Agent, decides to tell you a 15 min horror story.   I won’t retell the story, you know it all to well. So, here’s the take away from that story:

“I have the client from Hell.” – Annie Agent

While you’re listening to the story, you’re deciding  which of the following is true:

a) This buyer / seller probably really loves this agent.
b) This buyer / seller is the the client from hell and the offspring of Beelzebub.
c) This agent may have a communication / process problem.
d) This is actually the agent from Hell, I feel sorry for that client.

Like you, I’ve been to many YPN, Association &  RPAC events, so I know these horror stories pretty well.  But the question at hand is this, should Annie Agent ask her client from hell for a testimonial?

Here are some possible results.

If  a) is right, the client will gladly give Annie a testimonial if asked. The key word being, “if.”

If  b) is right, the client will gladly throw Annie under the bus on any review site with zero stars and outlandish claims of abuse no matter what kind of service Annie provided.

If c) is right, Annie will likely not have a process in place to ask ask the client for a testimonial – but she may get around to it sometime.

If d) is right, Annie will ask the upset and angry buyer and seller for a testimonial, completely oblivious to the fact that the consumer is irate, angry and upset with the agent. See c) above.

Good customer service and experience are important to generating more a) type customers. “81% of companies with strong competencies for delivering customer experience excellence are out performing their competition.” -Peppers and Rogers Group 2009 Customer Experience Maturity Monitor

Here is a growing problem.  There are WAY more upset and slightly upset customers than anyone knew.

For every ONE customer complaint, there are 26 others who have remained silent. -Lee Research Co.

26 to 1!  That is staggering to think about.

Real Estate Testimonial Tip:

Do not ask a frustrated, yet polite or very upset customer for a testimonial.  This is like throwing gasoline on a fire.

Upset or frustrated clients will tear you apart.  They will go directly to their SOI (Read: Facebook) and blast away at your brand.  When their tirade boils over to Yelp, Google, Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com, the damage has tremendous staying power that equates to long term brand damage.

A Dynamic Solution

Use a dynamic survey. Dynamic surveys listen to customers responses. RealSatisfied only asks satisfied customers for a testimonial.  Thus no “gas on the fire” effect. Dissatisfied and upset / angry customers are asked if they would like speak with management to help resolve the problem.  This is risk management customer escalation at its finest.

Listen, Measure and Improve

Don’t just ask for a testimonial because your gut says you did a good job and deserve one. Your gut is not a good measure of your customer’s satisfaction. Implement a system that knows the happy from the unhappy, the satisfied from the somewhat satisfied.  Learn to deliver customer experience excellence and out perform your competition.