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Tips for Responding to Online Business Reviews

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Online reviews are the golden ticket to attracting new customers, yet they can also be the bane of a real estate professional’s existence — because not every review is a positive one.

Negative reviews may reduce your star ranking, make potential leads think twice about using you, and may sometimes be completely unfair. However, they are part of doing business and something you must learn to respond to professionally.

Brightlocal’s annual Local Consumer Review Survey found more consumers are reading online reviews than in the past, with 77% stating they always read reviews when looking at local businesses.

Love them or hate them, reviews are here to stay and can make or break your online conversions. You have to deal with online business reviews, but how should you respond? Below are some tips for how to respond to both negative and positive ones.

1. Know Your Brand Guidelines

Create guidelines for your personal real estate brand and stick to them when you must respond to a review. As a real estate agent, it might be strange to think of your name and business as a “brand.” However, this practice can help you keep perspective when responding to feedback from past clients.

Think through what perceptions you want your clients to form about your professionalism and personality. Define your motivating purpose as a real estate agent. Then, make sure you keep these principles in mind while building your business’s online presence.

2. Learn From Feedback

Not every criticism is an attack, but rather an opportunity to improve. Does a middling review have a grain of truth? You can use negative feedback to improve your work and get better. This can be a tough and humbling practice, but adapting a growth-focused mindset is one of the best ways to grow in any career.

There are a few service triggers that can cause rifts with clients, even if the end result was a successful sale or home purchase. If your customers accuse you of not listening or not returning phone calls, it’s a sign your service can be upgraded to match your outcomes.

Work to get more organized. Take notes, call back within a few hours, and take steps to improve your listening skills. Use negative feedback to grow your business into something more positive. After all, more recent good reviews always outweigh older complaints.

3. Know When to Respond

Engaging with a negative review isn’t the most fun activity, but it can show your commitment to your customers and to your own growth. If it’s a mixed review, thanking the client for their feedback and offering a specific way you will improve can help make amends and build your reputation with other online users.

Start by thanking the review for their feedback, then acknowledge the criticism and make an offer to repair the situation. This doesn’t have to be dramatic, but offering a call to your customer service number or a specific promise to improve this for the future will show you as an engaged, responsive real estate professional.

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4. Know When Not to Respond

However, you don’t need to respond to every negative review — particularly the unfounded ones. Many online users know to take outrageous reviews with a grain of salt and get a fuller picture by paying attention to general trends versus one-off complaints. 

One in a blue moon, you might get a negative review that feels explosive for little reason. Giving credence to an unreasonable reviewer might even cause more trouble in the long run. In one study of TripAdvisor reviews, researchers found hotel chains responding to negative reviews actually looked worse to potential guests if the majority of their reviews were positive. 

The psychology behind the effect is a bit uncertain, and it contradicts other studies, but it does show that some discernment might be wise when debating which reviews would benefit from a response.

5. Remain Calm and Collected

You may feel tempted to share screenshots of the actual conversation or go point-by-point and prove how the customer is wrong in complaining so publicly about your brand. This type of reaction feels satisfying in the moment — “I’ll show them what’s really going on” — but it’s bound to backfire.

Such a response won’t win you any fans. After all, one of the keys to good real estate customer service is to stay calm under pressure. Prove to potential customers that you can handle interactions with confidence and professionalism.

Growing Your Business From Online Reviews

The old saying that all press is good press isn’t 100% true, but you will get your name out there and have an opportunity to respond in a way that reflects positively on your brand. Don’t be afraid to reach out to unhappy customers. A few may even go back and retract their words or add an update. 

Don’t fix mistakes just for the sake of a review, though. Make things right because it shows your integrity as a brand and helps establish a pattern of customers first.


About the Author: Evelyn Long is the editor-in-chief of Renovated, an online resource for the real estate market. Her freelance writing has been published by the National Association of REALTORS®, Insights for Professionals, and other prominent industry magazines.