You’ve just completed the most complex real estate transaction of your career. Your clients are thrilled beyond belief.
You email them with the plea, “Hey thrilled clients, I sure could use a review from you on Zillow!” And then you send them a link they can click on to submit a review.
“Of course!” thrilled clients reply. “Anything for you.”
And you wait and wait. A few days later, your client emails you and says, “My review for you was rejected. What’s up with that?”
What is up, indeed?
Zillow runs every single review that is submitted past a human being. Why? Primarily to ensure the review complies with our Review Policies and Guidelines — to maintain integrity of the review system and to reduce potential gaming. Yes, sad as it sounds, the simple fact is there are agents out there that try to submit fake reviews on their behalf, and to a lesser extent, fake reviews taking digs at competitors.
In order for consumers to get the most out of any review system, that system must be trusted — trusted to contain only valid reviews, trusted to have procedures in place to reduce gaming.
While we can’t give away everything that we look at when vetting a review (those pesky gamers don’t need to know all the secrets) we can share with you a couple of things that tend to get reviews flagged.
Lack of detail
This is the biggest reason, by far, that gets reviews rejected.
There is no minimum word or character count for review to be deemed “detailed.” We don’t check for grammar or spelling. What we are looking for are reviews that will provide value to both the consumer and the agent being reviewed. Explain why or how an agent helped, not just that they were helpful.
“Suzy Q. was an AWESOME agent!”
That is going to get rejected for lack of detail. If you think about it, that makes sense. After all, it’s not really helpful to a consumer.
“Suzy Q. was an AWESOME agent! She always returned our calls quickly, was available and willing to help, and was just nice to work with.”
That will pass the reviewer’s quality check every time. It’s not lengthy, but it explains why Suzy was an awesome agent.
Submitting a review from an office/public PC
Unfortunately, while it is convenient to tell a client in your office, “Just walk over there to that bank of computers and submit your review now, while you are thinking of it,” using an office or publicly accessible computer to submit multiple reviews is a tactic often employed by spammers and gamers. We suggest that you ask your clients to submit reviews from their own computers, away from your office.
While we’re on the subject of reviews, since they come up often, let’s get these two questions out of the way:
Why do you require someone to create a profile before submitting a review?
It all goes back to the beginning of the post. While we realize some people would like to submit anonymous reviews, not requiring a reviewer to enter anything tends to result in abuse and gaming of the system. Creating a profile only takes a few minutes and requires just an email address (which is never displayed). Those wishing to remain anonymous can do so by not using their real name during profile creation. And don’t worry, we won’t spam your clients with emails.
Can I have a bad review removed?
Probably not. If the review is from a legitimate client or contact and unless it violates our Good Neighbor Policy, a review is unlikely to be removed. But, a bad review isn’t the end of the world. In fact, numerous studies on review sites of all flavors have been conducted that show the occasional “less than perfect” review lends credibility to all reviews. That’s not to say you should seek out bad reviews, or do something crazy like lower your customer service standards to get a bad review. Just keep in mind a bad review isn’t the end of the world. Plus, we strongly encourage you to reply to all reviews you get on Zillow — the good, the bad and the indifferent.
See also: 7 Tips for Handling Negative Reviews
The bottom line
Request reviews from your clients. Many consumers rely on reviews as part of their decision-making process when looking for a real estate agent. Don’t sweat the occasional sub-five-star review. Instead take the time to reply to all your reviews — it’s just an extra opportunity to get your voice out there. Make sure your clients submit reviews from their own computers and include enough detail to provide value to other consumers (and you) and soon you’ll have a lovely collection of helpful reviews online, ready for you 24 hours a day!