Countrywide agent breaks ranks and replies to poor reviews on AllAgents

Ashton Burkinshaw in Kent says it has decided to engage with people who complain about them on the site, highlighting the growing importance of online reputation management for agents.

Countrywide has let slip that it is to begin replying to unflattering reviews its agencies receive via online platform AllAgents.

Its change of heart was revealed yesterday after a tenant posted a one-star review of the service they had received from seven-branch Kent and Sussex agency Ashton Burkinshaw.

The company received a very poor review from a tenant who had rented a property via the agency in the village of Tenterden near Ashford in Kent.

This unnamed individual complained of significant money taken from their deposit following check-out and that the firm’s property manager had been ‘snobbish’ and ‘superior’.

AllAgents reply

Ashton Burkinshaw’s local franchise hold Jeremy Jago replied, explaining that “until recently our policy was not to response to these reviews [but] this has changed which is why we are responding now,” he said.

“We did not manage the property so had little influence over matters during the seven months that the tenancy lasted.

“Of course we appreciate that no tenant likes having claims made on their deposit but unfortunately, the property was left in such poor condition compared to the start of the tenancy even allowing for wear and tear, that we had no choice but to make fair and justifiable claims for cleaning and repairs as well as rent arrears.

“Ashton Burkinshaw gains no benefit by making claims on tenants’ deposits (in fact it causes us a lot of extra work) but we will not hesitate to carry out our professional duty for Landlords in making fair, reasonable and justifiable claims on deposits on their behalf – even if it does result in a bad review.”

Read more about Countrywide.

One Comment

  1. At allAgents we have always promoted engagement between reviewing customers and the agent they have posted about. It is important to provide the opportunity to display a balanced view. This is achieved initially through the ability for the agent to reply to the customer via a comment thread which will be moderated and published immediately below the original review. There is no limit to the number of replies between them.

    For good reviews the agent is acknowledging the effort gone to by their client in sharing their good experience and singing the praises of their company across the internet. Subsequently visitors to the the agent’s reviews pages (who are very possibly potential customers), can plainly see that the agent cares what people say about them and that they publicly say so. These comments are far reaching as each reply is sent across both our and the agent’s social media accounts.

    We also endorse engaging with customers where a bad review has been posted because it can be equally or more valuable than a five star testimonial and many many agents on our website have picked up on these advantages.

    Can an agent really afford to ignore bad feedback? If an agent chooses not to engage with a bad review, then to the visitor (again, very possibly potential customers), it appears as if the company either does not care or that the review is 100% true. The search engines will also pick up and list individual reviews in natural search results. It is also a fact that unattended bad reviews attract more bad reviews. Customers feel little or no reluctance to leave critiques and detailed statements about a bad experience where they see that there is no comeback from their agent. Bad reviews are not like a bit of bad press, they hang around for a very long time where they are not taken seriously or managed.

    Our view at allAgents is that at the very minimum the agent should reply to a bad review and acknowledge that the company is aware of the post and a request is made to the client to contact a displayed telephone number to discuss their grievances.

    On many occasions Agents have benefited by replying and holding their hands up. They apologise for the issues and the lapse in their normal customer service standards, they promise to learn from their mistakes and readers like honesty.

    We know of many instances where agents have responded professionally to 1 star tenant reviews and may or may not have succeeded in resolving the grievances. However because the process was played out on the review web page, the replies were noticed by potential buy-to-let/landlord investors who realised that if these 1 star review tenants were their tenants, they can see how the agent would manage adversity as well as thanking other customers for a glowing testimonials. Agents have won instructions on this basis.

    Replying to a review where the agent disagrees with some or all of the content is the agents opportunity for a public right of reply. This what Ashton Burkinshaw in Tenterden did and they have totally transformed the readers’ possible opinions.

    There is also 1 star feedback where the agent claims that the review is fake or that they are unfairly represented. allAgents has a defined process for helping agents and customers clarify the genuine review and their claims.

    We are happy to see that this branch of Ashton Burkinshaw has agreed to review it’s policy and we trust that they will benefit from being able to share their side of the experience. Potential customers to the firm reading this review will almost certainly come to a different conclusion now that there is a balanced view.

    We are happy to discuss the management of reviews with agents on 03330002027.

    Martin McKenzie

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