Why Get Client Testimonials? (It's not why you think)
Whether or not testimonials and reviews are important isn't up for debate. It's clear that they are super important, and as the internet becomes the go-to resource for consumers shopping for real estate and lending services, testimonials will become even more important. If you're NOT getting testimonials published in a place consumers are actively using, you need to get started.
When looking around for a Realtor or lender, consumers go online and search for various things. Yelp! is a resource they use, maybe searching for a "mortgage broker in Orange County" or "Realtor in Boca Raton". Google is another. Each of these platforms have reviews, suggestions for people searching, and even the people advertising on these sites don't catch a consumers eye like a business that's got hundreds of great reviews and testimonials.
5-star reviews, catching a shopping consumers eye, and getting phone calls from people who already know you & trust you is great, and I'm not down-playing that at all, but there is an even greater benefit from testimonials. They can help you take your business to the next level.
In a simple 1-5 star survey, 1 means poor, 5 means excellent. That's basic. The words of a previous client, though, are beyond basic. They get down to the micro level of your business, and show you exactly what people love, like, and perhaps what they don't, about the way you're doing things. In a recent review, I saw a client write my "response time is beyond immediate, and he would call each week with an update even if we had no questions", and another stated "he even returns emails in the wee hours of the morning & returns all phone calls and emails in a timely manner". While those reviews were incredibly flattering, what I took from them is that communication is something that people shopping for a loan find invaluable, and good communication is perhaps a pleasant surprise to them. This is something people want.
Both were 5-star reviews, and both included mentions of how important communication was - so this is something I need to remember and focus on in each and every loan. While I know communication is huge, there's also always room for improvement. I often wonder if people care that I provide an update every Monday (even if there's really no update or any outstanding questions), so reading that testimonial confirmed that the "Monday update" practice is one that is serving a purpose and keeping people comfortable.
2 recent reviews mentioned something along the lines of "even though John is on the west coast, he never let the distance get in the way". Again, flattering, and something I know is very important because I work both coasts, but it also points out that this is something people are worried about. If they hadn't at some point thought "I wonder if doing business with someone so far away is a good idea?", they wouldn't have included that in a testimonial. Now I know it's something I need to address in my marketing, and a concern I should address with prospective clients right away, before the question even arises.
Testimonials are a great way to get exposure, attract new business, and close more deals. In the internet age (especially with mobile), they'll become only more important as the old-school ways of finding Realtors & lenders become irrelevant. More importantly though, testimonials can help us improve our business and continue to grow in the right direction, by showing us what people care about, and whether or not we're meeting the needs of the people we serve. The exposure of a good testimonial and 5-star review is great, but it's the advice of our clients, and the learning opportunity a testimonial presents that is the true value.