Take good care of your reputation in this world of online sharing
Alex Goldstein, property consultant, www.alexgoldstein. co.uk
GOING THROUGH my 2016 figures last weekend, to my amazement I found that 92 per cent of my business came from word of mouth referrals. Not that I’m blowing my own trumpet (ok, perhaps I am), but that figure even took me by surprise. Then it got me thinking: why was it so high?
I was discussing it with Sarah, a previous client and marketing expert, who said: “Alex, there are three things people value most: trust, communication and, above all, the knowledge that you will do, what you say you are going to do.”
Well, of course I blushed at the compliment, while secretly high-fiving myself under the table, but joking aside, she is spot on with that trio. I believe they should be sacrosanct no matter what business you’re in, as it absolutely demonstrates that you care and have the needs of your client at the forefront of everything you do.
I bet you can think of a dozen times when you’ve been let down in all of these areas – the builders who go AWOL halfway through a project, the colleague who never responds to emails, customer services who say they’ll call you back, then don’t. What do you do when you are looking for a top notch restaurant or need to find a good tradesman for a job? You ask the people you know for help.
As a result, you are more likely to use that trade/service, which has been recommended to you by a trusted source. It is usually lower risk and no hassle.
The power of the crucial three elements were demonstrated very clearly in a recent client case of mine. She was trying to sell her home and, before I became involved, she had been promised a top service and marketing package by her previous estate agent.
Through rose-tinted spectacles, she understandably envisaged a world in which her house would be fought over by a queue of adoring buyers, falling over themselves to secure her home. That is what everyone thinks and this is a natural reaction.
The first six weeks of marketing went really well with viewings-a-plenty. The agent did a solid job of keeping in touch with the vendor. But when the property still hadn’t sold eight weeks later, it was as if the agent vanished into thin air. Suddenly, the home owner had to do all the chasing with phone calls and emails. She said it made her feel like a nuisance, which is not the impression a client should have, especially one who is paying a substantial fee.
Thankfully, we quickly got to grips with the situation. Having upgraded the photography, overhauled the brochure, sorted out the marketing and online entries, plus viewing arrangements and other details behind the scenes, we were able to relaunch the property with renewed vigour.
The agent was delighted to have additional ideas from a property consultant with experience in the estate agency business and within five weeks of the relaunch we had secured a buyer on the right basis.
The client was delighted to have the agent back on the right terms with refreshed enthusiasm and to have myself keeping a proactive check on progress.
However, the damage to the agent’s reputation was already done thanks to the power of social media. The client, upset at being ignored, had told her friend about her experience and then she mentioned it to another friend on Facebook. That post was then shared and shared again and suddenly lots of people knew about her experience.
In this age of online sharing, it is more important than ever to offer good service. One should never lose sight of the power of word of mouth when you are in business. A good reputation can take years to earn, but only a moment to lose.