Agent Evaluation Dreaded Mistake or Welcome Opportunity?

Posted by: Kristal Kraft on March 4th, 2008

Let’s set the scene. You are a REALTOR; you arrive on time for your weekly [broker] sales meeting to be informed you are now going to be evaluated by your client on every transaction.

Gulp.

That’s not all; in addition the evaluation score will be used publically to assist future clients in their selection of your services.

Is this your worst nightmare or your incredible dream come true?

For me it would be both at the same time. I’ve had clients who think I can part the water and others who would never be satisfied even if I sacrificed my first born son, returned 110% of the commission plus physically moved every stick of furniture into or out of the new home!

Giving power directly to the people who may or may not understand the real estate process would be placing it in hands that have the power to do undeserved damage.

I don’t see that happening. Yet, there is strong merit in having a one-on-one evaluation with the customer. Listening to the other side’s expectation and experience undoubtedly can provide valuable insight from people we are in business to please.

The process may be flawed, but don’t give up on the concept yet. Agent evaluations are a wise business routine if done in a manner that would improve the performance of the agent and enhance the experience of the consumer.

There’s a Japanese concept Kaizen, which calls for never-ending effort for improvement at all organizational levels. Why not apply it to our real estate business practices with clients? By using the skill of listening, applying it to consumer feedback to create systems and processes to eliminate the problems in the future.

Is there integrity in evaluations?

Many real estate brokers will request a buyer/seller fill out a broker evaluation form at the closing table. This routine may or may not deliver honest results. Most consumers aren’t going to let their hair down in a public setting. They will be polite, fill out the form and move on.

I’ve witnessed buyers evaluating a new home builder. The buyer is frightened to start off on the wrong foot with the builder who will be responding to their repair requests, while at the same time they are furious with the builder for something that went wrong. When handed the evaluation, they protect themselves, they lie.

To be worth anything for our purposes, evaluations need to be collected in a neutral, safe setting. Consumers need to know their responses will not result in retaliation but will help the company tallying them to improve.

Going back to the sales meeting

The broker now tells the group we have hired an independent company to evaluate our business practices by interviewing our clients and before they do we will be informed as to the points evaluated. First we shall review the 5 point evaluation plan so we can focus on what will be expected of us.

What does this do to your comfort zone? Still challenging yes, but knowing the questions and having this knowledge prior to the actual meeting relieves the undue pressure of dealing with the unknown.

Using a third party company to collect the responses puts a buffer between the possible problem and the source. Hopefully the buffer will result in an honest evaluation. Additionally the final score of the agent will be delivered by the unrelated company, instead of the broker. The broker gets out of the firing line and the score is validated and used in advertising.

Surprises are only good on birthdays and holidays, not in the business world!

Delving into consumer expectations provides insight for the appropriate course of action. We may have to brace ourselves for what will come out, but by purposefully inquiring, we can curtail the negatives and enhance the positives.

Understanding what the consumer wants means we can achieve better results by creating systems and scripts designed to deliver better future results. Doing so will enhance revenues, increase retention and put us REALTORS in a better position to receive referrals from the customer’s extended family and friends. Listening to the customer creates loyalty.

Loyalty from customers is the ultimate goal.

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Comments

12 Comments on “Agent Evaluation Dreaded Mistake or Welcome Opportunity?”

Marc Davison

The most compelling argument for me reagrading this issue is the years of practice the consumer has leaving feedback and evaluations. They do this on ebay, Zappos and scores of other sites for score of other services. Futhermore, the consumer has had years of experience learning how to analyze feedback and can usually tell when feedback is gratuitously favored in any one direction. Say you view feedback on an ebay seller who has 9,000 positives and 3 negatives.You tend to view those negatives as a reflection of the negative personalities of the person leaving feedback.

I believe that this will ring true for agents and real estate as wel. If an agent has an overwhelming amount of feedback favored in any one direction, that will weigh heavily in how the agent is viewed by the public.

There is a risk for sure but if you do a great job and satisfy your customer and if they leave you great feedback, the ability to leverage that good will for as long as it remains published is worth it. If public scrutiny is scary and it causes agents to reach deeper and do better, the win win for everyone is big. The most compelling argument for me reagrading this issue is the years of practice the consumer has leaving feedback and evaluations. They do this on ebay, Zappos and scores of other sites for score of other services. Futhermore, the consumer has had years of experience learning how to analyze feedback and can usually tell when feedback is gratuitously favored in any one direction. Say you view feedback on an ebay seller who has 9,000 positives and 3 negatives.You tend to view those negatives as a reflection of the negative personalities of the person leaving feedback.

I believe that this will ring true for agents and real estate as wel. If an agent has an overwhelming amount of feedback favored in any one direction, that will weigh heavily in how the agent is viewed by the public.

There is a risk for sure but if you do a great job and satisfy your customer and if they leave you great feedback, the ability to leverage that good will for as long as it remains published is worth it. If public scrutiny is scary and it causes agents to reach deeper and do better, the win win for everyone is big.

Louis Cammarosano

Krystal

Thanks for your blog post. You post raises many of the points we are discussing internally regarding adding consumer feedback to our agent evaluator program.

While Marc points out that if a vendor is good, the positive comments will negate the negative comments. However, in real estate the transaction volumes are not that high.

There may be examples where excellent agents get their first reviews and they are negative and perhaps unjust. In this example, consumers will shy away from these agents and the agents will never get selected.

While we are in favor of the concept of user generated feedback, we are still thinking through the execution and would appreciate any feedback.

Kristal Kraft

Marc ~ I like your comment “public scrutiny is scary and it causes agents to reach deeper and do better.” Knowing there will be scrutiny brings a strong desire to do well under scrutiny. I think that would hold more agents accountable for their actions. It is tough to get a rough review, particularly when it is unjust. But then like I stated in my post some people will never be pleased with anything, we all know and understand that.
Thanks for your comment.
kk

Kristal Kraft

Louis ~ I am glad you are being sensitive to the situation as a whole. So many consumers have unreal expectations as to what our job actually is. Guess you would have to pay attention to using basic universal questions that would apply to every situation.
Volume certainly has a strong impact. Until an agent gets enough transactions one bad review could spoil them forever.

Louis Cammarosano

Kristal
It ties back to my belief in the blog post the Failed Promise of Real Estate 2.0 that user generated content is perhaps not well suited to real estate.
Consumers have a harder time being objective with the one transaction that they make for say $500,000 then they might when commenting on a book, movie or restaurant service. And even if the individual consumer is not objective there is a large number of consumers who probably have read the same book, seen the same movie or eaten at the same restaurant such that the “objective truth” could come through.
I am not convinced it can happen with the evaluation of agents so easily.

Bob Carney

Congrats on the new digs.

One question I always ask “Is there anything I can do differently to make your real estate experience any better? I need to know to help improve my performance for you and others.”

My broker sends out surveys to all previous clients for feedback.

Kristal Kraft

Louis,
I’ve never counted, but the real estate transaction has so many facets in it. Being “judged” for something that is out of our control is a problem. Yet just the same in the end we are held accountable.
The original post was not suggesting online evaluations. My thoughts were more toward an off-line process for growth, improvement and accountability.
Online evaluations are so subject to “vigilante justice”. I doubt agents would ever be willing to put themselves out there.

Kristal Kraft

Hi Bob, Your broker is both wise 1) to care and 2) to take the time to ask. I bet the consumers appreciate it also.

Thanks for the congrats. So far I’m just getting my feet wet…
kk

Louis Cammarosano

Kristal
Your post highlights some of the pitfalls of offline evaluation. An online one, you are correct, would have even more. A true web 2.0 adherent would argue to “get it all out there”, “be transparent” and “let the people decide”
I am not sure that of the efficacy of user generated content in this context.
In The Failed Promose of RE 2.0 I got many comments-mosly those incensed that I downplayed blogging. However, I received no comments on the argument that user generated content is not really suited to real estate.

Real estate IS different. There is a reason that the massive shift in advertising dollars to online sources has not happened the way it has happened in every other industry. Its still a manual face to face process.

Carole Cohen

I work for a large brokerage and have been a part of the client eval. form system since I started over five years ago…..our corporate office sends out evaluation forms to both buyer and seller clients. We are encouraged to let them know the forms will be forthcoming. It hasn’t been something to fear Kristal. Although yes, I have had a few clients who were more than challenging to please, to say the least. Mostly it has been a way to see what I am doing well and what can always improve. However, a website where people can come and complain without merit at times is a bit scary.

Cyndee Haydon

Kristal – Glad to find you here – this is a topic I was discussing today. I like how you laid out the pros and cons well. I also agree what you get at the closing table is not the most accurate.

We like to ask our clients how to improve and any good business person does seek feedback however you’re right so many people don’t understand what our job actually is.

Glenn in Bonita Springs

I truly like what Louis said – it is all about knowing the expectations, being honest (if it is something the client does not want to hear), setting forth your expectations of a client, and explaining how you work which benefits them.

It is all about communications.

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