Sorry, but are we now in need of a rating website for all the rating websites?

It certainly seems that new #proptech and start up companies within UK Estate Agency are popping up everywhere which is mostly a good thing – Every industry needs new blood, ideas and energy, especially with current trends where technology/communication/marketing are advancing and changing so rapidly.

Recent trend seems to be in Estate Agency review websites to challenge the previous ‘market saturation’ that the likes of AllAgents had. We have seen the successful Crowd Funding of raterAgent led by Malcolm McCallion, GetAgent attacking the London scene and the likes of AgentTracker, Reviews.co.uk still providing a service etc and a Big Etc to the many others on the scene or about to be on it…

Used correctly and sticking to one major industry supplier, good quality reviews that are findable online can be a great marketing angle for any estate agency, especially if creditable feedback can position them sincerely as the ‘number one rated agency in their local area’. Tripadvisor is nearly a household name when it comes to reviewing a local restaurant / hotel (though if I am honest, I have never needed to use the website), but as a company, they are worth a packet and I’m sure you’ll agree that many eating venues and hotels will have their sticker in their window. Though not a new subject in our industry sector, the arrival of more and more rating websites will mean estate agents will have to find more time to review all the rating websites which are making them more and more open to negative feedback and unjust ratings!??

I read comments from estate agents that basically say it’s all an extra insurance to protect yourself against other agents trying to run your business down – though if the review websites were not there in the first place the negative reviews would not exist on them? Looking on social media I generally see people’s appreciation of their estate agent’s service by a photo of a card and a bottle of wine usually shared by the estate agency themselves thanking their client for the gifts of appreciation. I will see comments, good and bad, on Facebook pages where the estate agent is in control and can deal with issues without the need for a ‘monthly fee’ or worse.

Maybe rating websites exist easier because of the no existent ‘dislike button’ feature on Facebook (many people would like to see this introduced), meaning you have only the chance to leave a negative review as a post on someone’s page which can be deleted by the page owner anyway – If Facebook did bring onboard the option to dislike a page, then you could imagine the disarray it would cause businesses! Surely, the fact remains that people only generally leave negative feedback online over leaving positive and when people receive a service they have paid for then a good service is what they are expecting, whereas a paid for rubbish service or bad experience will entice that person to make the effort to complain and especially with today’s potential reach with the likes of Social Media, you have a massive shop window to be heard from when you are displeased.

The fact remains, how can anyone control genuine or negative feedback online? Even the likes of TripAdvisor are open to exploitation as I have received many times an email after visiting a restaurant / hotel asking for me to leave a review… Once a venue has exhausted all it’s friends and family members to leave positive feedback, then it is well on the way to looking good in the eyes of the person searching online for a new place to eat at or stay over in.

We could even go down the route of Social Media, what does a big following mean if they are purchased, begged for or exchanged? If everyone on social media followed everyone then surely it would render it all meaningless, I have 7 billion followers and follow 7 billion as does everyone else…

Rating/review websites are a good thing online I feel, if done correctly and we have one or at tops say three major suppliers to the industry of which each come at things from a slightly different angle giving consumers choice. They need to be well policed, I know raterAgent are hard on maintaining this factor, and provide much more accurate data for consumers searching online compared to reviews for when ordering a takeaway, buying a new mobile phone handset or what your £9.99 wine will taste like, purchasing a property is the biggest decision anyone of us will most likely ever make. It would be good to know that rating website allows us to choose an estate agency on correct merits – Yes, it is true, more and more of us are initially searching for property online and no doubt making the decision on what agency to use online aswell, so a review website will surely become more and more important going forward?

As much as social media gives people looking to make a rating or review a vast platform to shout from, modern day appliances like mobile phones can leave estate agents and many other industries open to even further criticism. I visited my local mobile phone shop today to help fix a problem on my phone and the level of service and disinterest from a member of staff was enough to make me want to complain (but I didn’t as I’m just too busy these days), but I was just wishing I’d had taped the conversation and body language I received via my mobile to back up my complaint… This though is all coming in the near future, imagine that this afternoon I had been wearing and recording with Google Glass or similar, then that video could have easily been posted on Facebook or Tweeted out on Twitter where it could have done a lot more damage than a mere zero star rating or frustrated words in a review.

I have used review websites in the past, especially for holidays and purchasing of cars, so in my mind they are a consumers choice going forward and a good business concept… Let’s see what success current names have in the property industry – Time will tell and that doesn’t mean years, more so months… The value of online reviews are no doubt increasing and investors are placing bets in the form of money on businesses involved on generating them, but, in the meantime, I’m thinking something like CompareTheRatingAgency.com

Christopher Walkey

Founder of Estate Agent Networking. Internationally invited speaker on how to build online target audiences using Social Media. Writes about UK property prices, housing, politics and affordable homes.

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