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Amanda Wilson Blog

Wednesday 21st March 2012

Amanda Wilson is sales director of one of the several new – and controversial – estate agency review sites. Will they ever really get off the ground, and how trustworthy are they? She agreed to answer our questions.

Q. Why do consumers need review sites of estate agents?

A.          Consumers now more than ever are using review sites to make informed choices when purchasing products and services. One of the biggest fees someone is likely to pay for a service is to an estate agent. They can feel more confident of receiving a good service if they read genuine reviews from past customers. Although consumers understand that estate agents have the interests of the seller at heart because they are the ones who pay them, consumers that are buying still need to feel assured that the estate agent mediating the transaction has integrity and a sense of fairness. Good reviews from buyers indicate that the estate agent has a good customer service ethic. Estate agents are also aware that buyers could be their new sellers in the future.

 

Q Do consumers benefit more from being able to read reviews of lettings agents than might be the case with sales agents?

A.          Letting Agents equally deliver a service to consumers; however, often over a longer period in general to an estate agent when they are involved in managing a property. Potential Landlords looking to instruct a good letting agent can feel encouraged by reading verified reviews from other landlords. 

 

Q. Do you think review sites for agents will really catch on?

A.          The review culture is firmly in place. Sites like Trip Advisor, Top Table and eBay are all established sites that focus on customer reviews and are embedded in many people’s decision-making process. Progressing into the property industry is inevitable as people now have more and more access to the web via mobile phones, iPads and computers. As the consumer generation is fast becoming one that has information readily available, it seems every industry will soon be self-regulated by their own customers.

 

Q. Agents are concerned that bad reviews aren’t genuine but put there by their competitors. What do you say to that?

A.          Estate agents can feel assured that only their genuine customers are leaving reviews about them on agent-tracker via a verified system, where the agent generates a unique password to their customer’s email address.

 

Q. Some agents are embracing the idea of review sites, and ‘playing the game’, by  encouraging their more delighted customers to participate. But since these are, almost inevitably, happy customers, is this really such a good idea?

A.          Agents are asked to generate passwords at the start of the sales process. One of the questions for the 5-star rating is at which stage were you given the passcode; this ensures that ‘cherry picking’ clients is eliminated. Agents have a facility to reply to reviews and in the event of a poor review can compose a constructive response.

   

Q.  At the moment, Allagents is the one to beat. Can they be overtaken?

A.          We believe that Agent Tracker offers a completely different proposition to Allagents. We work closely with agents and focus on promoting the good agencies willing to embrace transparency and giving their genuine customers the platform to rate their service. We do not focus on exposing bad agents; however, we hope that consumers will gain confidence in choosing an agent with good customer service ethics. Having a variety of review sites for agents sends a message that there is a real appetite for accessible information for consumer choice. Hopefully estate agents will come to realise that by allowing customers an independent platform to rate them, will give confidence to prospective customers and ultimately mean gaining more instructions. We don’t have a charging structure: all estate and letting agents pay the same amount – £25 pa – to have an enhanced profile on agent-tracker, and they get to the top by having the most verified reviews

 

Q. Any other comments?

A.          Agent Tracker believes the majority of letting and estate agent do a good job for their customers. Agent Tracker has a real passion to help change the public perception of the estate agency profession. We are currently working with many agents that have already won instructions by using our site. 

(26) Comments

Added by HD on 2012-04-17 10:43:05

Steven Hanbury

What is childish about the comments here. The MD Amanda gives a Q & A on one of the most popular EA news sites out there, with probably the main intention of a bit of a free plug.

When the last time a thread was produced by the Old MD, he at least came on to defend the company, which is more than can be said for the new MD.

Theres nothing childish about it, and if I was plugging my company on here and I really believed in it, I would be defending it to the hilt, despite what others might say.

The fact we haven't heard a peep says it all really.
Added by on 2012-04-12 09:33:41

MY MY well where do I start.....

I'm a Landlord with a portfolio of "buy to let" properties in and around London. I first came into contact with Agent Tracker 8 months ago and I am going to say that some of the comments on here are absolutely ridiculous.

When I first heard about Agent Tracker I was interested to know more because I hadn't heard of such a service. Therefore I contacted Amanda, left a message and then she called me straight back. I found her to be very polite, professional and knowledgeable, therefore after speaking with her I truly understood not only how Agent Tracker worked but how useful it is.

Over many years in property I have dealt with good Agents and lets say the not so good. I use Agent Tracker as a guide and again, find it to be very useful.

I must say it speaks volumes about a Company Director who isn't willing to get involved in such childish and unnecessary comments in this forum.

This being a positive comment I'm sure it will be easy to assume that I'm a good friend of Amanda's and she's put me up to this. However being a Company Director of my own website www.tenantshistory.co.uk I can conclude that I am more than happy with the service provided by Agent Tracker and find Amanda to be a more than competent M.D.
Added by becca on 2012-04-11 17:05:10

Good luck with this venture, Amanda, but I am afraid it sounds as though you will need it!
Added by PeeBee on 2012-04-04 16:04:57

Two weeks down the line - not a dickie-bird from Ms Wilson.

Shouldn't a "Sales Director" be defending their company? Championing its cause instead of relying on a few prompted customers?

Sorry, Ms Wilson - but it seems to me that your silence speaks the volumes that you obviously can't or won't...
Added by HD on 2012-03-30 16:50:59

aah, i see what you did there Peebee, Im also big boned too.

Anyway back to business. I appreicate this thread might have had a few more comments on it on the Home page as apposed to the blog section, but it might have also been nice for the new owners to pop on to make a comment or two, at least the previous MD had the cojones to come on here, even though he was shot down.

A lot of Martin's as well in this business, i think the scarlet pimpernel owner of allagents review site is known simply as 'Martin' too, maybe that is the qualfication needed to be a review site owner.

Gonna bookmark this for a years time, Will we have the same sort of thread telling us this is the best thing since sliced bread, will someone new take the business over or will it fizzle out into the abyss.

I know what one my monies on.

Also I am not much of a fan of the allagents site in any shape of form, you have to appreciate the site traffic the website gets, while the matey boy sits in his bedroom with his feet on his desk.
Added by PeeBee on 2012-03-30 15:06:45

HD: How do you know I'm huge?

Sniff, sniff... I'm big boned I'll have you know...

Thing is with this company, HD - our old mate with the dodgy barnet, "Martin", kicked it off and couldn't even sell it in his own back yard. Not a good start. The new owners, Ms Wilson and her other half (who coincidentally is called 'Martin'...), from what I can make out, are just polishing the original t*rd that Jonnie often refers to and making the same noises about it being the new Hovis, as can be seen above.

That being said, they have obviously managed to evolve one step, and recruit a few pet spokespeople in and around London (presumably for a discount - even I am not cynical enough to suggest a few extra good reviews could possibly appear on selected websites...) to back up their claims.

But this is having the reverse effect, as I have suggested - and you seem to agree with me. You can almost hear them reciting their words off an autocue.

And STILL, the silence from Ms Wilson, well over a week post-publication, is deafening...

Ho-hum! ;o)
Added by HD on 2012-03-30 11:41:50

Def rat can be smelt hear.

The handful of people all championing this are all geographically located within a short distance of each other.

Either Agent Tracker have been busy selling their services in this area or theres a bit more to it.

Had a quick peak at one of our main patches, still no change from when the last thread was posted. No agencies signed up, agents listed that are out of business (some many upto 10 years ago), telephone numbers wrong, some top agents not on there.

How longs the site been around now, 18 months ish?

Never even had a sales call or a generical email promoting this business.

Maybe im just huge cynic like Peebee, but I will stick by views a year ago, the ideas flawed and this is a one man band looking to make a quick pound.
Added by PeeBee on 2012-03-29 12:31:08

'Aaron': "It has helped us with more instructions... its just a shame that the other agents in our area haven't started using it yet."

Sorry - run that one past me again please?

If it's working for you - WHY would you want other Agents to sign up? THEY might get BETTER reviews than you do...

In reality, only the review company would want MORE Agents signing up, surely...?

ANOTHER plant, suggests PeeBee the cynic...
Added by Aaron on 2012-03-28 14:55:06

We have been using Agent Tracker for a while now. It has helped us with more instructions as we use the comments on our leaflets. Its easy to use its just a shame that the other agents in our area haven't started using it yet. But all in all very good has helped us out and very easy to use for both agents and people reading reviews.
Added by PeeBee on 2012-03-28 12:35:25

I am disappointed to be proved right in my assumptions about the posters (with the exception of James Byford...) who tipped up clearly at the behest of this review site to tell us all how truly spiffing it is.

I am MORE disappointed, because there are genuinely some good company names there, whose reputations already stand them at or near the top of the pile. In my humble opinion it is the review site that should be jumping up and down about their association with the likes of HOMESpartnership than the other way around.

To the chap at Theydons - you state that you have been registered "...for some time now and they have been great for us.
They have really helped promote our business..."

REALLY? That's strong fighting talk for a company who have only 13 reviews in eighteen months - and the last one was posted LAST OCTOBER... since then you could have changed your whole staff and employed a bunch of primates for all anyone knows. What good are those reviews if THAT were the case??

To me - it muddies the water. I hope whatever freebies you got for participating in this blatant plugging session prove worth it, people.

I will close by pointing out (although hardly necessary...) that it speaks volumes when NO-ONE from the review company has graced us with their presence. At least the last guy to plug this site, Martin, had the cojones to come on the once - as did the folks from the competitors recently...
Added by PeeBee on 2012-03-26 17:22:44

Apologies to James Byford - firstly for stating that I doubted he would respond - you have my apology for misjudging you there - but also for not then giving him my response in return. I had not realised that you had responded - yours was posted while mine was being typed, obviously!

Okay. You state "If you are a cynic in the first place, you probably won't take much notice of any review site, verified or not." I would suggest, James, having read many of the reviews on these "review" sites, that the great majority of them are written by the ultimate cynics! Indeed, why else check out a review site unless you have a cynical view of the product or service offered? Mon ami - you clearly don't trust it to have to see what others are saying about it - ce n'est pas vrai?

You then state "Do Jo Public use review sites? I think the original article has already answered that question (Trip Advisor etc.) Therefore, I don't see why it can't be a part of this industry too." Sir - TripAdvisor is used and abused by people spending a months wages on a fortnight's jolly - NOT to make a decision that could at worst cost them thousands of pounds or even their home, if the choice of Agent does not perform. We are sitting here, on the internet, having a debate about the power of the internet. That is a bit sad, really - as it proves how the dependence of this tool has affected us all - and how we now think that we live or die by it...

You go into an MA armed with your digital details; your schedule of where and how you advertise - press and online; and what else? A link to a review site. Wouldn't impress me, I'm afraid. I'd want to know about why I should appoint YOU to sell my property. I'd want YOU to tell me - not have to trawl through what may, or may not, be real life reviews. You seem to forget that people buy from people - and that is sad for someone who is so deep in the people business...

Lastly, you ask "One last thing, why does it bother you so much anyway?" Maybe I shouldn't let it. But call me an old fool if you wish. 34 years in the property industry, almost half of those in Agency in senior positions - I just can't let it lie I guess...

And as someone who now employs the services Estate Agents rather than BEING employed, I just wanted you to know how old f@rts like me still rely on touch, feel and smell instead of t'internet...
Added by local knowledge on 2012-03-26 12:11:21

Principles of agency offices in Harlow, Leyton, Walthamstow and Wanstead, all within spitting distance of each other.
The rat in this thread stinks.
By the way. Ben from kings, You aint kidding anyone mate...lol
Added by PeeBee on 2012-03-23 16:36:56

Kevin Briley: Sorry - ole' cynic PeeBee here...

You have appeared, along with the others, to bear the standard for this review site. Fine. I hope it works well for you.

THIS, however, is my problem. I have raised the matter of the other review sites. Others have pushed this one above the heads of the others (of course that has NOTHING to do with the low ratings they get elsewhere...). YOUR company, however, gets exceptional scores on a.n.other site - you are in the top 150 in the COUNTRY according to them - yet you make no mention.

Strange. VERY strange. You didn't stick your head above the parapet a week or so ago to champion THAT site?

Makes me wonder whether the storyline company are penning these "reviews of a review site" for you all...

...or am I just being uber-cynical today... ;o)
Added by James Byford on 2012-03-23 15:19:52

PeeBee

If you are a cynic in the first place, you probably won't take much notice of any review site, verified or not. However, as an agent, I would like to be able to show potential clients what has been said about the service my company offers. I find that it does help. I am sure there are a few potential clients that will probably take it all with a pinch of salt, but I don't see how it can be a bad thing.

Whether Agent Tracker will become the standard or the norm for the industry, we shall wait and see. It is a business just like any other, and I guess if agents don't buy into it, then it won't.

Do Jo Public use review sites? I think the original article has already answered that question (Trip Advisor etc.) Therefore, I don't see why it can't be a part of this industry too.

One last thing, why does it bother you so much anyway?
Added by Kevin Briley, Churchill Estates on 2012-03-23 13:40:57

I am the Branch Manager at Churchill Estates Wanstead, and have been using the Agent Tracker review site for over a year. In my opinion Agent Tracker is an excellent listing tool and has helped with countless instructions. I have worked in the estate agency industry for over 13 years and although it is always lovely to receive thank you cards, Agent Tracker has completely revolutionised the way we, as agents, receive feedback from our clients in a new and refreshing way. My customers can review my team's performance in a truly evaluative and transparent manner, which is fantastic for prospective clients to see.
Added by PeeBee on 2012-03-23 13:26:25

James Byford:

In response to your opening line - yes - we do!

Thank you for giving YOUR slant on the questions asked in my posts. And, continuing with the cynicism, I doubt very much whether they will be answered by the two original respondents - or whether in fact YOUR name will ever pop up here again - as what we tend to see on this kind of advertorial storyline (the King Kaanute one springs immediately to mind...) is posters questioning the usefulness or validity of the product, website or company; and then a spate of first-time posters jumping on to say how really good it actually is and the world wouldn't spin without it! A case of same old:same old...?

Who knows... but it doesn't wash with the cynics!

Back to YOUR post. You are, from what I read, correct. Other sites do not "verify" their reviews (although I have seen a few "unverified" on the site in question... explain that one please?) whilst this one apparently does. I say "apparently" because at the end of the day I have no idea whatsoever what "verification" process actually takes place and how the verification is verified... and so it goes on! To be honest... I don't really care.

For the record, PeeBee will not be leaving 'reviews' of Estate Agents ANYWHERE - other than in the time served tradition of letter form to the appropriate party.

Good service AND bad service is a)subjective and b)liable to change with every case. In sixteen years of Agency I amassed ONE complaint - hundreds of complimentaries. Which do you think I took most notice of - and acted upon?

Likewise, I will not be picking and choosing an Agent via this medium. I will let the individuals whom I entrust my faith prove to me that they are most capable - and believe me if they start directing me to these sites I will start switching off!

Do you really believe that Jo Public will either KNOW or CARE about the differentiation between this review site and any other? Okay - you are going to tell them (whether they want to hear or not...) - but will they listen? Will they then go onto all the others to see what reviews are there for you? And - most importantly - WHICH ARE THEY GOING TO BELIEVE?

As you said above... "Oh, we live in a cynical world..."

;o)
Added by James Byford on 2012-03-23 12:19:33

Oh, we live in a cynical world.

The difference between some other review sites and Agent Tracker is that “Jo Public” cannot leave a review on the AT website, without having dealt with the agent in question. Therefore, due to the “verified system” that AT adopts, another agent cannot maliciously leave negative reviews for another agent, and an agent cannot give themselves excellent reviews.

In the same way, it seems impossible for PeeBee to leave a review for an estate agency he has not dealt with, but PeeBee can, on some of the other websites. This does beg the question of whether they are genuine reviews on other review sites.

Whether Jo Public will believe Agent Tracker reviews, and not other review sites, is up to Jo Public really, but to me the “verified system” does give Agent Tracker the edge.

We have only recently started using Agent Tracker, and have received a good response from our clients, so far. We are beginning to add the reviews to our marketing material, and use the information on valuations, and it does seem to be working.
Added by PeeBee on 2012-03-22 21:21:02

Ben: I doubt whether your colleague Scott will respond to my request - so I'll try you instead (no doubt with the same result but here goes anyway...)

"Also being a properly verified site gives our customers confidence knowing the reviews are a 100% true reflection....."

Great smashing super, as they used to say on Reggie Perrin! But here's the thing. I have drawn to your mate's attention (and now yours...) at least TWO other review sites that pop up on Google if you simply search your company name, which I doubt very much you consider or admit to being "a true reflection"

My question (questions, actually...) :
* WHY should Jo Public believe YOUR pet site, and not the others?
* WHY are the reviews deemed "100% true"?
* WHO is the public going to believe?

Look forward to your response - but I'll not hold my breath...
Added by PeeBee on 2012-03-22 21:11:34

Scott Dockerill: "After the negative comment above I am in the strange predicament where I am compelled to write a review for a review website..."

I'll assume you mean MY comment...

Okay - you give THIS review site 5 out of 5. Great to hear.

Perhaps you would be good enough, as you are on a roll and all full of features, benefits and salient points that AT has obviously primed you with (as per the previous posters...) to provide a similar review of the OTHER review sites I found when Googling your company?

WHICH, by the way, appear WAY before that of your 'pet' review site. In fact, I got bored looking by page fifteen so I gave up...

Hopefully, prospective customers will look longer and harder, eh? ;o)
Added by Scott Dockerill (Kings Group - Walthamstow) on 2012-03-22 19:18:10

After the negative comment above I am in the strange predicament where I am compelled to write a review for a review website...

In an area where more estate agents cover a single postcode than probably any other area in the country public rapport and therefore customer service in Walthamstow is key. We have always prided ourselves in great customer service, however short of taking a sack of thank you cards to every valuation it was always going to be an uphill struggle to convey years of happy customers into a 1 hour presentation.

We were then introduced to Agent Tracker and have been using the site for just over a year now. We have found it very easy for us and our clients to use and I am happy to say we are now clearly seeing the benefits. The site will present a quarterly certificate if we manage to keep our reviews above a certain grade. Showing this off on valuations and in the office window is definitely helping to win more instructions.

Due to the way Agent Tracker is set up ALL of your clients are given the opportunity to leave a review and so you are inevitably going to get a vendor or a purchaser that you couldn't quite keep happy, however we have found all the feedback to be mainly constructive, and overall helpful. It is also comforting to know that in general I and my team are serving our clients well.

In closing Agent Tracker is helping to change the perceptions of the general public towards Estate Agents for the better. So from everyone at Kings Group - Walthamstow, a big thank you, and keep up the good work!
Added by Ben ( Kings Group, Church Langley, Harlow, Essex) on 2012-03-22 18:14:47

We are based in Church Langley, Harlow, Essex and have been using Agent Tracker for quite some time. It has been great for our business, the feedback we receive from our clients really has helped us improve all areas of our business from the initial valuation all the way through to completion. Also being a properly verified site gives our customers confidence knowing the reviews are a 100% true reflection.....
Added by on 2012-03-22 15:56:31

We all know that word of mouth is the most powerful advertising there is. You only have to hear one bad thing about an agent from one other person and anything else is inmaterial. This what makes Agent Tracker so useful to agents, sellers and buyers.
When reading reviews on the site you know for sure that these are GENUINE and honest whether they are negative or positive due to agent trackers verified system.
We have received fanatastic feedback from both our vendors and buyers and are extremely pleased that our landlords can now rate their agent too!
A big thank you to Simon & Amanda at Agent Tracker - your great idea is boosting business for us and spreading the good word about Stoneshaw Estates. Makes all of our hard work worth it!
Added by Alec at Theydons on 2012-03-22 15:05:35

We are based in Leytonstone E11 and have been registered with Agent Tracker for some time now and they have been great for us.
They have really helped promote our business and its been valuable knowing that all reviews are verified. So that only genuine customers have the platform to leave a review about our service..
Added by Paul Callaway (HOMESpartnership Crawley) on 2012-03-22 14:01:34

We are based in West Sussex and have been using agent tracker since October.

It's been great for our business, the feedback is valuable but knowing that only our customers can leave reviews gives us confidence in having an independent source, unlike some other review sites we know about.
Added by PeeBee on 2012-03-21 15:59:00

Hmmm... It's obviously THAT time of the year again...

A year has passed since AT founder Martin Reynolds last stuck his head - albeit briefly - over the parapet stating that this site will be the new 'Hovis' as far as choosing an Agent goes.

Twelve months on... Amanda has become the new spokesperson; Martin has apparently left the building (and maybe even sports a new hairstyle...?) - and that's about all, really.

In an EAT story originally published on 25 January 2011 which announced the 'birth' of this review site, I commented (before Mr Realising Reality did his usual 'hijack the story' attempt:

"I would have thought that you would have rolled this out in your own back yard first. It was with great surprise that I searched 'Solihull' to find ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY-FIVE Agents listed, but not ONE who are registered!

Surely, with your local presence and undoubted contacts you would have been able to get the ball rolling on your home ground?

Doesn't bode well for the rest of the country..."

Fourteen months on - Solihull now has EIGHTY FOUR Agents listed - and the impressive total of... TWO who are registered with the site. Whoopee flippin' doo!

The rest of the country, however (which is quite a big bit...), seems to be totally oblivious to the existence of AgentTracker!

Resounding success, Amanda. Two in a year - must be keeping your company car purring along nicely! ;o)

(Still - you did better than your predecessor, I supose...)
Added by Homer on 2012-03-21 10:21:49

Surely they are still not pedalling this site. Some Martin chappy had a story probably over a year ago telling us this was the best thing since the wheel was invented, apart from a few pop up adverts seems as though the site is still stuck in reverse.

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