The latest Real Estate Business straw poll found 73.5 per cent of the 260 respondents believed testimonials were an effective method of marketing because they added credibility. A total of 19.6 per cent of respondents said they weren't as they lacked credibility, while 6.9 per cent were unsure.
Principal of True Property Braden Walters said testimonials were a good tool for marketing if they were honest and truthful and did not show bias.
However, poor testimonials could come across as though they were created by the agent.
“If you have an honest opinion of someone and you can write about their true experience, that's great; not ‘Braden sold our house for the best price ever’. I think it doesn’t really do you any favours," he told Real Estate Business.
Mr Walters said True Property used client testimonials on its website, which were copied word for word and not paraphrased.
The Sydney-based agency was also asking clients to write reviews using Google Places to enhance the credibility of testimonials.
“It does actually show that it comes directly from the client and not something that has been altered by the agent to look good on their own website," said Mr Walters.
“Sometimes they’re not real great reviews but it’s a controlled environment.”
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Principal of CENTURY 21 Team Brockhurst Josh Brockhurst said while he saw the value of testimonials, agents only focused on the positive feedback, which did not provide a complete picture.
“Agents aren’t going to use testimonials from someone who they had a bad deal with," he said. "You’re only highlighting the top five per cent of what clients say.
“A lot of it is too tailored and prompted by what agents want clients to say and you never see the negative feedback - and I’m sure people write letters like that in.”
Mr Brockhurst said some of his team members used testimonials but he used his online profile to highlight his achievements.
According to CEO of NSW-based Starr Partners Douglas Driscoll, the industry was always fishing for testimonials and compliments and avoiding problems and major issues at all costs.
“Someone once said to me that a complaint should be seen as an opportunity, not a problem,” he said. “They can be sobering - you actually have them and you tackle them and do something about them and that makes a big difference to the business.”
Mr Driscoll recommended that agents obtain feedback from clients through a third party.
“People very rarely want to tell you how bad you are ... They’ll tell their 150 Facebook friends, but they won’t tell you,” he said.