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Ratings companies have evolved into two camps that couldn’t be more opposite

(EDITORIAL) The ratings and reviews game has evolved considerably in recent years, and now, two clear camps have emerged… which do you think is better for consumers?



five star wars ratings

A line in the sand

Nearly every industry today is either participating in or being assessed by ratings and reviews. It’s what consumers want – it has become a consumer-centric fundamental.

Because time is scarce, consumers are increasingly seeking what they hope are reliable, trusted sources that collect and post both product and service experiences of real customers. The idea is that having access to the actual experience of others will lead to making better, more informed decisions and choices in selecting their next product or service provider.

In meeting this consumer interest, a pursuit of five star ratings has created a Star Wars battle line with two distinct camps:

  • Marketing Spin Camp – best foot forward, filtered results, selected feedback, and heavy bias of positive news
  • Transparent and Accurate Camp – reliable, measured, complete, unscrubbed and unmanipulated information from real past customers

So one camp chooses to Photoshop the picture while the other offers untouched results; one camp chooses pleasant fiction and the other chooses the reality of non-fiction; one camp elects to edit and cleanse, the other offers accountability and transparency with some blemishes; one camp seeks an immediate, short-term, gamed advantage to win customers while the other trusts that truth is the foundation of long term relationships; one camp doubts its ability to deliver great results and chooses marketing spin while the other camp believes consumers can be discerning and their service providers can deliver.

Facts sure can ruin a good story

In response to Brad Inman’s comment in an April 19th, 2016 interview, “…what I’d love to see here… (is) a higher-quality agent… better ones”, the former president of an organization promoting the Marketing Spin Camp stated, “Ratings are not the way to a higher-quality agent because ratings are a marketing tool… I don’t care what anybody says about that.”

The power of Marketing Spin is in telling a tale. Since the facts can ruin a good story, those in the Marketing Spin Camp often find it more convenient to avoid, ignore, omit, or not even bother to learn the facts. These facts have been researched and available for some time now, including in a 2008 report, before most in the Marketing Spin Camp entered the North American real estate market.

Transparency, accountability, and feedback both change and positively alter behavior in sports, business and politics. The evidence is clear, empirical, and unambiguous.

Ratings and reviews when properly designed, delivered, and data aggregated (scientific methodology with research expertise) do create the kind of accountability, transparency, and feedback that influence and alter professional behavior creating both measurably higher quality and a more satisfying customer service experience.

Spin a story, discredit the real estate industry

The facts – Here are the measurable results that are specific to the real estate industry and related to how service quality assessment of every closed transaction can influence agent behavior, the quality of service they provide and make them better (data based upon more than 2,000,000 customer satisfaction assessment surveys):

• 54% more Very Satisfied customers with the overall service experience than the national average
• 86% fewer Dissatisfied and Very Dissatisfied customers with the overall service experience than the national average
• 400% greater likelihood of agent making a post-closing service follow up call than the National Average
• 65% greater Satisfaction with quantity and quality of communication
• 72% greater Satisfaction with attention to transaction details
• 78% greater Satisfaction with negotiating assistance
• 54% increase in sales of returning past customers
• 56% increase in referral sales from satisfied past customers

Star Wars – the battle for five star ratings is bigger than the quest to win today’s customer. Honest and accurate ratings and reviews are about TRUST and long-term customer relationships.

Adopting practices of misleading information, selected feedback, and manipulated data are a “win the battle lose the war” strategy that also sacrifices the opportunity for ongoing improvement, real service excellence and true five star results.

Presenting manipulated, selective, or cleansed customer feedback as accurate and honest is also likely a violation of the Code of Ethics.Click To Tweet

You have the power to do the right thing

The 2015 independently commissioned D.A.N.G.E.R. Report identified agent service inconsistency and the invisible interactions between agents and consumers as the highest threat to the survival of the industry and the value of Realtor® services.

Believing that ratings are only about creating positive messages or merely a marketing tool that cannot influence professional behavior is factually incorrect and a sad surrender in the face of what can and is actually being done.

“Like them or not, reviews are now central to the consumer decision-making process. Go all in or stay out of the game. People will sniff BS a mile away if you try to peddle filtered or otherwise less-than-open reviews.” -Brian Boero, Founding Partner, 1000Watt Consulting

While we may frequently feel that events in business and life are beyond our control, each of us has the power to do the right thing, to do it well and to do it now!


Kevin is a Co-Founder, President & COO of Quality Service Certification, Inc. (QSC) and earned an MBA from The University of California – Irvine. With over 20 years of Real Estate experience, his primary focus is on consumer research, developing better service management systems, and sharing the importance of consumer-centric service standards, transparency and accountability to create measurable and meaningful differentiation and long term advantage for those professionals that put customer needs first.


How calendars can stop your procrastination, boost productivity

(PRODUCTIVITY) As the old method of pen-to-paper planning comes back in style, see how its use can help with time management.



writing pen paper productivity

My favorite part of writing for this publication, by far, is the fact that it always has me keeping my eyes and ears open for inspiration. The simplest comment from a friend can snowball into an idea that becomes beneficial to others.

Such was the case this past weekend when my best friend, Haley, stopped by to help me unpack my new house. Haley is a graduate student, pursuing a master’s in interpersonal communication, and is a much smarter version of myself.

We got to talking about what was on tap for Haley’s final semester and she told me about a workshop she’s creating for the graduate school on the topic of how using planners/calendars helps with time management. The girl has an affinity for pen-to-paper planners, and has created an organizational structure for her daily life through their use.

Naturally, I thought, “hey, sometimes I attempt to give people advice on time management and planning, let’s bounce some ideas off of each other.” Haley then gave me a rundown of the bullet points she’s planning on covering for her interactive workshop.

1) Take everything as it comes. As a new task pops up, put it down on your calendar (whether paper or electronic) so that you don’t forget to do it later.

2) With these tasks, schedule deadlines for yourself. It can be tough to be self-motivate and have tasks completed by your own assignment. However, putting them down in writing will help you stick to them.

Only work on something if you’re being productive. If you stop being productive, you should take a step back and work on something else for a while,” says Haley. “This is why my personal deadlines help because it makes me work harder but I still have my own time.”

3) Schedule out your week starting with events that you cannot change. Start by writing down your work schedule, then appointments, meetings, etc. Then schedule in tasks that have more flexibility in time.

4) After doing this, take all of these tasks and prioritize what must be completed first and assess how much time each task will take. Be sure to give yourself an appropriate amount of time for each task.

5) For bigger projects, considering breaking them down a bit. “For bigger projects I break it down into steps, normally using a concept map to understand the core aspects of my task and what needs to be accomplished within each of those to make it more digestible,” says Haley. “Once I have the pieces, I place the pieces into my weekly schedule of events I cannot change.”

All of the pieces of this puzzle come together to create a calendar that will help you juggle every aspect of your life and boost your productivity. By implementing these ideas in my own planning, it has definitely helped me to become more of a self-starter.

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A hugely dangerous challenge of the Internet of Things

(EDITORIAL) The Internet of Things is here, with all manner of soft AI voices and shiny Bluetooth bits. But how long can we count on it staying?



LG Alexa internet of things

So, robot apocalypse. The Internet of Things machines have their cold metal fingers all up in our data, our houses, our sand dunes and/or porn.

And for what? What do they offer in exchange for this unprecedented invasion of our day to day lives?

Seamless, user-friendly automation to help with a thousand daily tasks, demonstrably improving our quality of life.

That’s… that’s actually a pretty good offer! Nice work, robots.

It comes with catches, and we’ve covered those, but Day One bumps and blunders are part of owning tech. They generally get engineered out.

What I want to talk about is Day 100, or 1000. Because the important word in “Internet of Things” isn’t “Internet.” We have the Internet. We can confidently expect the Internet to continue being a big deal.

But “things” is an important word. Things are distinct from tech. With tech, buying the thing and futzing with the thing are part of the fun, especially for practicing nerds like your narrator. Tech is new, and the excitement of a new game or a new phone can take the edge off, say, a server crash or a quick trip to tech support and back.

What about things? No early adopter aura in history will get a customer to ignore a fridge full of rotten food. Fridges need to work, period. So does your thermostat and your car. All those things are charter candidates for the full IoT overhaul, and they’re all capital T Things, not tech. They aren’t shiny toys people can live without for a week or four. They’re expected parts of daily life, things that need to work on Day 1, 100, and 1000.

Are companies preparing for that? Are the startups rising out of the blue-light-white-plastic Stuff Renaissance prepared to rebrand as global service providers, doing the hard, unglamorous, absolutely necessary work of digital maintenance?

Bigger question: are they prepared to guarantee security while they do so? Because anything with digitized bits needs patches and updates to function, and if it can download patches and updates, it can download things that are not patches and updates. No one wants to chase a botnet out of their microwave. Are the companies invested in always-on Things standing up and saying they’ll take responsibility for indefinitely securing and maintaining the infrastructure they intend to profit from?

Short answer, no. They’re not. Operations departments tend to be vanishingly small, painfully understaffed, spectacularly underpaid. Let’s be real,: we don’t prioritize stuff like that. We’re talking the digital equivalent of the guy who chases the raccoons out of your HVAC, and that sounds entirely too much like work.

Maintenance is not sexy.

But it’s absolutely necessary. It’s generally just the beginning of a thing. It gets the wheel rolling, and that’s not to be undersold.

But the IoT wheel is most definitely rolling. The issue is keeping it in motion, making it a wifi-level universal usage standard, not a 3DTV fad.

That won’t get done in a meeting. That gets done through long term adoption, and long term adoption will be about attracting, training, and retaining people willing to do the hard work of maintenance and customer support.

The Internet of Things wants to be a major step forward in the infrastructure of daily life. I am incredibly in favor of that. But daily life works because it’s the full time job of a whole lot of people to make sure it does so. So to Internet of Things companies, I say – pay them, treat them well, make your organization the best place in the industry for them, or be left behind by the people who do.

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Incorporating less stress into your work day

(WORKPLACE) Telling someone to chill when stressed at work is useless advice, so let’s discuss meaningful, tangible ways anyone can stress less at work.



stress mental health

You can’t avoid all the stress of a job, whether you own your own business or work for someone. It’s important to deal with chronic stress. Long-term, stress will affect your immune system, causing you to get sick more often. It’s linked to heart disease, heart attacks, low fertility and many other health problems. It can make asthma and acid reflux much worse. You have to manage your stress.

How can you incorporate less stress into your work? I have dealt with anxiety all my life. Here are a few of my most effective solutions:

1. Set boundaries

No is a complete sentence. I know my priorities and have to make myself say no to even simple requests. I’ve learned that the less I explain, the more likely I’m going to stick to those boundaries. I can’t stop people from asking me to do something, but I can make sure that I’m getting my work in on time.

2. Don’t wait until the last minute

I’m a horrible example to follow, because I can procrastinate with the best of them. But I’ve found that when I work ahead of deadlines, I am far less stressed. I set imaginary deadlines for myself. If I miss it, I still have time to work. If I don’t, I sleep better because the project is done.

3. Get up away from your desk at least every 60 minutes

Just getting a fresh cup of coffee reminds me to stretch and move. Five minutes away from my screen can help me stay focused on the next project I need to finish. I also try to look away from the computer screen every 10/15 minutes. This reduces eye strain.

4. Leave your work on your desk

Okay, I’ll admit I read emails after hours, but very seldom do I act on them. I’m finding that I need to shut down at 5 or 6 in the afternoon and forget about work. We’re so connected these days that it can be difficult to separate. But you have to. Your family will thank you. Your sanity will thank you.

I’m sure there are more things you can do to relieve your stress. Get a massage. Exercise. Eat healthy. All those things your doctor tells you to do. But before you can practice self-care, you have to prioritize your time and deal with work stress.

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