The topic of reviews of agents is a hot potato in the industry.
However, one agent that struggled to get its customers to post up Google reviews – despite them being happy with its service – says it has seen an upsurge since using a verified reviews service managed on an independent platform.
Paul Traill, online marketing manager for Karl Tatler Estate Agents & Lettings, says that this in turn has led to a big increase in customer enquiries.
He said that previously, the company relied on its own resources to obtain Google reviews from customers, but struggled to obtain more than a handful, and persuading clients to post reviews proved very difficult.
Now, however, the company, which is one of the largest independent estate and letting agents in Wirral, Merseyside, has seen the number of prospective customers filling in their online form to request a valuation rocket by 60% over a four-and-half-month period.
It says it is also achieving real and immediate gains from the high star ratings that now appear alongside its name at the top of Google search results thanks to Feefo’s relationship with Google as a licensed content partner.
Over the six months to April, Karl Tatler says it enjoyed a substantial boost in organic search traffic, which translated into 8,410 additional sessions.
Verified reviews boost customer service
Verified reviews are said to give existing clients a stronger voice, while prospective customers benefit from being able to see hundreds of genuine, unedited reviews.
While business owners may feel vulnerable at the thought of poor reviews being visible to potential customers, Traill believes they could suffer more by avoiding customer reviews altogether.
“Verified reviews have been invaluable in helping generate more interest in our company, giving customers transparency about who we are and what we do at a time when they are making some of the most important decisions in their lives,” says Traill.
With reviews pouring in and an average positive star rating of five out of a maximum five, it was no surprise that Karl Tatler scooped the review platform’s 2018 Gold Service award – a badge of excellence that is displayed prominently on the company’s website, marketing materials and in branches.
The business has now earned 676 reviews, with 95% achieving the maximum five stars. This consistently high performance puts Karl Tatler way ahead of its rivals, including the local branches of national chains, which are left behind with small numbers of non-verified reviews, or systems that allow anyone to post a review who may not even be a genuine customer.
Traill believes that using a platform that only allows genuine customers to leave reviews has boosted transparency and customer trust. “We live in a world where reviews are so important,” he says. “Customers need reviews and don’t make a big decision without them.
“At Karl Tatler we welcome all opinions because we want to provide outstanding levels of service. Other review systems are not as transparent or honest and anyone can leave a review, so we are giving ourselves a further point of difference by using the Feefo platform.”
Now sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants are contacted at key touch-points in their respective customer journeys, with agency staff politely requesting they take up the offer to post a review via the platform to ensure that future and potential customers can see what they can expect from the company.
All reviews are displayed on both the company’s website and the review platform, providing up-to-date feedback that is immensely persuasive for any prospective customer. Within the Karl Tatler website, branch-specific reviews are displayed on each branch’s contact page, saving consumers time and providing much greater localisation.
Every review, including those with negative sentiments, should be important to businesses, providing highly valuable insights that allow problems to be addressed immediately. It means that when a customer withdraws their custom, any difficulties or misunderstandings are quickly revealed and resolved, leading to happier customers.
For Karl Tatler, adopting the platform has helped drive positive change across the entire business.
“Not only do we have many more reviews, but the quality has gone up,” says Traill.
“By using tags, we can highlight which members of staff are generating positive feedback. We always share and highlight positive reviews internally which acknowledges the great service delivered by individuals and teams and provides an added morale boost.”