Canadian Underwriter

Online client reviews can help your brokerage

October 27, 2021   by Brooke Smith

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Bad publicity is still publicity, provided you take it seriously and handle it correctly.

“Reviews let us see how we’re doing and allow other potential customers to see how we’re doing in creating the best possible experience for our customers,” said Alex Hillhouse, team leader with the sales department at Mitchell & Whale in Whitby, Ont., which uses Google Reviews.

In fact, PowerReviews’ 2018 study The Growing Power of Reviews found 97% of consumers look at reviews for help with buying decisions, and 59% read between one and 10 reviews before making a purchase.

But while having positive reviews is crucial for any business, customers sometimes post negative feedback. Interestingly, PowerReviews’ report showed 85% of consumers actively seek out negative reviews.

So don’t remove them, advised Hillhouse — “unless there’s profane language or things that aren’t supposed to be made public on a business site.”

Instead, take the feedback at face value and respond to it quickly. “Negative reviews are a learning experience, and they allow you to showcase that to everyone who reads the reviews,” he said.

Mitchell & Whale has a policy of responding promptly to negative reviews. “Customers have gone online and changed their reviews after how we rectified things for them,” Hillhouse said.


Can you post about us … please?

But how do brokers get clients to write reviews? PowerReviews’ 2018 study noted 50% of consumers don’t write reviews, and 55% of those who don’t write them said they need motivation to sit down at the keyboard.

Some businesses offer a carrot – the 2020 State of Online Reviews indicated 35% offer customers some form of incentive to post a review.

Hillhouse isn’t a fan of that approach. “I think incentivizing customers to leave reviews implies you’re expecting a positive review,” he said. “We don’t want it to be like a bribe.”

Hillhouse said it’s best to simply ask clients how their experience was. In the 2020 study, 12% of consumers said they will post a review if they see a sign asking them to do so, and 36% will post a review if they receive an email invitation.

No matter how they get their customers to write reviews, brokers must ensure it’s easy. Each sales team member at Mitchell & Whale has a link at the end of their email signatures that leads to the Google Reviews site.

And, “at the completion of any interaction, we send a thank you to the customer and share that link,” said Hillhouse. “It actually opens directly to the review window, so it encourages more reviews and makes it easier for customers.”

While brokers also appreciate traditional word-of-mouth referrals, Hillhouse noted these mainly go to friends or family — “usually a smaller circle.”

Online reviews reach further, he said. “Online reviews are that much more important.”


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