Real estate has been rated as the second worst reviewed industry in Australia for customer satisfaction, according to new research.
Leading business review website womo.com.au (Word of Mouth Online) has released data mined from its 350,000 customers across 554 industry categories to reveal the country’s top 10 best and worst online reviewed industries.
The number one positively reviewed industry for consumer satisfaction was vet and animal treatments, followed by cake services, osteopaths and hospitals.
At the other end of the spectrum, advertising and marketing services was the worst rated industry for customer satisfaction, followed closely by real estate agents, and employment and recruitment agencies.
Founder of womo.com.au Fiona Adler told Real Estate Business that while some agents were doing exceptionally well and receiving positive reviews, on a whole, the results were not good for the industry.
“It’s not living up to prices. It’s hyping up whatever they’re pitching or selling and not following through to delivery,” she said.
Ms Adler said a major factor for poor customer satisfaction was a lack of genuine communication.
“Customers can see straight through that, and when things don’t pan out in the way that was promised or said ... it’s really not well regarded,” she said.
Ms Adler said agents needed to provide honest communication and genuine care for their customer.
“It’s not something you can really fake," she said. "There are certain behaviours that go hand in hand with good customer service, but if the person serving you doesn’t care about you, you can sense that pretty easily. Customers are lot smarter than a lot businesses give them credit for."
Managing director of Harris Real Estate Phil Harris agreed with Ms Adler, saying the lack of communication was the main complaint regarding real estate agents.
“When you’re in real estate, it’s very easy to become unaware of how critical the real estate transaction is,” he said. “It’s a big deal to the client. Every client has to be treated like it’s the only transaction.”
Mr Harris called on agents to put themselves in their customers’ shoes and to consider how they would want to be treated.
“Customer service is the only point of difference you have in your marketplace ... At the end of the day, all real estate agents offer the same product. The only thing that separates you from your competition up the road is the level of customer service you provide," he said.
Owner of Mahon Property Partners Michael Mahon said agents need to have systems and procedures in place to keep the lines of communication open for clients, who were often caught up in the emotion of a transaction.
“Keep the vendor fully informed of what is going on," he advised. "Being kept out of the loop can be the worst thing you can do for them. It will only increase their stress levels.”
Mr Mahon said agents with a business mindset would approach their work with longevity in mind.
“Those agents realise the importance of establishing, fostering and maintaining good relationships. It’s absolutely critical," he said.
“I suspect most agents know what they need to do. Howerev, the issue is not about trying to find the time, but making the time. Do what needs to be done - whether or not you want to do it - when it needs to be done, and that comes down to your planning and activity schedule.”
According to Ms Adler, customer service was critically important, with consumers increasingly turning to online reviews when making their purchasing decisions.
“If agents have a customer who’s not happy, it’s not just that customer, the ramifications are more widespread," she warned. "More than ever before, it pays to look after your customers and think about the long-term reputation they’re building up or eroding away.”
Top rated industries for consumer satisfaction:
- Vets and animal treatments
- Cake services
- Butchers and fish shops
- Chocolate shops
- Wedding florists
- Civil celebrants
- Wineries, wine bars and breweries
- Lingerie and sleepwear
Worst rated industries for consumer satisfaction:
- Advertising and marketing services
- Real estate agents
- Employment and recruitment agencies
- Website developers and hosting
- Bathroom renovators
- Fencing and gates suppliers
- New car dealers
- House cleaners