New Website: What Customers Say

I recently came across this website: www.what-customers-say.com . It compares itself, albeit at a much earlier development stage, to something like Trip Advisor. I’m pretty excited about it’s potential.

Julie is the Queen of Trip Advisor. Everytime she travels somewhere and stays at a hotel, B&B, lodge, or resort she logs on to http://www.tripadvisor.com/ and writes her review of that accomodation. But, more importantly she plans almost all of our trips by first logging on to Trip Advisor to find out what real people are saying about all the various hotels in the areas we are going. Who believes advertising anymore? And while a brand name sometimes gives you comfort, it doesn’t ensure you’ll love the hotel.

Write a Review of Your Real Estate Agent

Write a Review of Your Real Estate Agent

With the proliferation of sites like this, you can get open, honest feedback about something with fewer hidden agendas. In the “old” days, you had to read a review from a “critic”. This would be an individual who may or may not have become an “expert” in their field and now they are telling how great (or awful) the steak, or bed, or movie was. Did the critic have any agenda? Even if they don’t, the critic is just ONE person/review. On many of these reviewer-based websites, of course, you often have to take reviews with a grain of salt, especially if there are only 3 reviewers for a particular topic. However, upon mass (50+ reviews is a good size), you can start to get a real understanding for the reviews. And, as in Trip Advisor, you can follow a particular reviewer around to see what else they have reviewed. If somebody has a lot of complaints about most hotels, they are probably just grumpy people so don’t pay too much attention to them. The same can be said for the “always happy” reviewers.

But, I digress (this is where I hear Julie saying “What’s your point?”), the point about this blog was social reviews and the new site What Customers Say (www.what-customers-say.com) . And although this site is very new (launched Aug 2008), I think it will add great value to those looking for a great realtor. Because trust me, not all real estate agents are the same. We have met many many realtors over the years, my Mom was even one. We’ve bought numerous properties through them, spoke with dozens during Open houses, and I have met many through my brokerage work. We would have a lot to say in the reviews, but we’d also love to read about the ones others recommend because we often are looking for good agents to work with.

So, do I think this is a good idea? Heck ya!! Now, we just need it to expand beyond Edmonton!!!! What do you think about this new site? And the idea of a website to review real estate agents?? Talk to me.

13 Comments

Filed under Blogs, real estate

13 responses to “New Website: What Customers Say

  1. Well, Dave, it may come as no surprise to you that I, one of the owners of What-Customers-Say.com, think this new site is a great idea. 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to write such a great post about it.

    I like your comparison to critics of the past — I hadn’t thought of that before, but you’re right: We used to have to depend on one person reviewing one other person (and who knows what criteria they were actually using), or we’d have to trust the testimonials that agents put on their own sites… but ever notice that those testimonials are always glowing? Not credible. That’s what these review sites — like TripAdvisor and Avvo… and, now, What-Customers-Say.com —- are here to do. Glad you’ll be a supporter!

    BTW, where are you, if not Edmonton? We’re expanding across western Canada around January 1, 2009. Plans for further expansion depend on requests from people like you. So please let us know where you are, and we’ll put your city on the list for expansion.

    All the best, and great blog!
    ~jw

  2. @Joanna – thanks for your note! It’s great to “meet you”. We live in Vancouver, and it would be fantastic for Vancouver, but we would love to have this site in Toronto where we have a few investment properties.

    I think Dave will probably e-mail you directly once we’re home…we’re in South Beach, Florida right now. We just sat through a time share presentation. Maybe the next project is a “What Customers Say” about time shares??

    https://revnyou.wordpress.com/2008/11/13/buying-a-timeshare-in-south-beach-is-it-a-good-real-estate-investment/

    Thanks again for stopping by! We look forward to seeing What-Customers-Say.Com all over Canada.

    Julie

  3. 4customers

    Thanks, Julie. We’d love to hear from you and Dave, and we’re really looking forward to expanding to Vancouver… not to mention Victoria, Calgary, the Okanagan and beyond. Support from people like you is exactly what we need to make honest customer reviews for real estate services (timeshares sounds like it might need it!) a go.

    Take care, and all the best.
    Joanna @ What-Customers-Say.com

  4. Keith Lee

    The financial model for What-customers-say is to get real estate agents to buy space on the site to promote their business. I think customers will be wary of trusting a review for the person that is paying the freight. There is a bias built in automatically. Can the consumer trust that the developers will publish positive reviews of agents that do not purchase a package. On the reverse it seems that agents that do not buy space are “slagged” in the blog. Hardly seems even handed to me.
    To be completely transparent and objective the site has to separate the beneficiaries from the payees. As you know, he who pays the piper calls the tune. KL

  5. @ Keith – Thanks for coming by. The one thing you and I completely agree on is that a site like this needs to be free from bias to be successful. But, I am confident that the people behind What Customers Say also recognize the need to make this site for the customers (the articles I’ve read indicate they are going to great lengths to ensure reviews are legitimate). In other words, even if they charge for ads, I think that will not impact what good or bad things get said about the agents that do, or do not advertise on the site. If it does, it won’t be long before consumers figure that out and walk away, don’t use their site, and without a lot of reviews, their site will fail.

    I travel a lot…and I use Trip Advisor to choose my hotels because I am pretty particular about what I want in a hotel. I never just read one hotel review because I always know that one person could have had a bad experience for reasons outside of the hotel’s control. In the same token, I also take one glowing review with a grain of salt too. That could have been the owner of the hotel’s sister writing that post. BUT – when I see 12 reviews, and 10 of them are positive, I typically have a comfort level that I will be happy with this hotel. AND if beside those reviews I see an advertisement for that hotel at $149, I will typically click on the ad and book. Does that make me think Trip Advisor is bias in any way? Not at all. In fact, they’ve just made it super convenient for me to book with that hotel, and that makes me happy. By the way, Trip Advisor has ads on their site for the badly rated hotels too!! 🙂

    Just as Trip Advisor takes a few days to review the travel post before they publish it on their site (to do what they can to verify it’s authenticity), What Customer’s Say go to pretty great lengths to verify that the review is coming from a client who did in fact work with that agent. They won’t take down a bad review, just the same as they wouldn’t take down a good one.

    So, if you are a real estate agent concerned about this site I’d encourage you to embrace this site. It’s a good thing for all parties involved! If you are giving your clients the best service possible and focusing on their needs you will find yourself with positive reviews on this site whether you advertise or not! And you will start growing your business in the absolute easiest and most effective way – WORD OF MOUTH!! And if you get bad reviews…take that opportunity to carefully consider the feedback, improve what you’re doing and start to get good reviews!!! Maybe there is a genuine disconnect between what you think clients want and what they really want?! For example, maybe you think that taking your clients to 35 houses is great service because you are showing them all of the options, but your clients are upset because they felt you should have narrowed the search down to the best 5 based on their criteria.

    Ok long reply, but I am excited about the launch of this site and anxious to hear all views.

    Visitors to our blog..please feel free to tell me what you think of this new site!

  6. Julie, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Love your TripAdvisor example. In fact, Joanna and I came up with this concept for real estate agents while vacationing on Maui — after having used TripAdvisor to find a little gem of a hotel called “Kaanapali Beach Hotel” (highly recommended, btw).

    Make no mistake, we’re in this for the customer (i.e., end user). We do not pander to agent requests. On the contrary; we’re getting quite a lot of flack about negative reviews, but they will remain on the site if they are legitimate. It should be obvious to anyone who our real customer is.

    And to be clear, we could run this site with virtually no further investment beyond our own time. It costs $95 per year to host, so it’s not like we have some venture capitalist breathing down our necks wondering when he’ll see a return on his investment. Nope, we built it on a shoestring budget and we will continue to make good use of low-cost marketing tools to spread the word. We’re under absolutely no pressure to ‘bend’ under anyone’s pressure. 🙂

    Here’s to the age of transparency!

    Lance

  7. Keith Lee

    I have been in customer service too long to trust that every customer is going to be fair in their comments. When a real estate agent has invested in the site he is likely to encourage his satisfied customers to post a review. If the transactions does not go so well he will not be as eager to make the suggestion.
    On the other hand the non-subscribing agent will probably not promote use of the site to anyone. But bad news travels fast and customers with a bad expereince are 17 times more likely to tell their story. So those customers will be the ones that search out and use the site. This will overload the negative reviews for non-subscribers and overload the positive reviews for subscribers.
    Don’t you think that customers will see through this bias?
    The difference with Trip Advisor is that hotels are not paying the freight for the specific spot where the reviews are posted.

  8. Keith, while I can appreciate what you are saying, I am a little confused by how concerned you are about this site. Social networking on the web is one of the fastest growing areas (look at myspace, facebook, linked, mixx, stumbleupon, digg it, etc.) and with social networking comes reviews of everything from electronic products to hotels to cars to realtors. The reason I like a website such as what-customers-say.com is because it is making an effort to at least make sure a reviewer had a real experience with a realtor! So many of the other sites don’t do anything like that. Anyone can write a good or bad review about a hotel or an mp3 player on a particular site and there is no legitimizing it! The website doesn’t contact the person that wrote the review and ask for their receipt of the product! But, Joanna and Lance go through actual sales to make sure the review is legitimate. Wow – now that’s good to know! So, rather than being upset that there is a site that sells advertising to a relevant audience and that negative reviewers “are 17 times more likely” to post a review, I say the only thing a realtor should be worried about with a site like this is that they’re not doing a good enough service to their client. And, if they do a good job, they should express this to their client – “hey, have you seen what-customers-say.com? you can write a review about our transaction!”. “I sure would appreciate it”!

  9. Bringing all of this information together would be such an interesting site for home buyers, tenants and landlords alike. Deciding what is and isn’t a good area or building is always a roll of the dice after you have done your due diligence and your initial impressions are done.I discovered your site on faves.com bookmarking site…I like it and gave it a fave for you, I’ll be checking back regularly…

  10. Thanks Charlotte Real Estate Buyer Agent! We agree with you very much. Glad you like our site and gave us a “fave”. I don’t recall hearing of that site, but will check it out. Look forward to hearing from you again in the future!

    Dave

  11. Pingback: Real Estate Mash Ups to Check Out « Life as Real Estate Investors

  12. Good luck with this concept. Will check back to see progress

  13. Pingback: Do We Need Another Real Estate Search Site? « Life as Real Estate Investors

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