I wrote recently about Horizon Realty in Chicago showing us how not to handle criticism on Twitter. Today I bring you a story of an agent from Perth, Western Australia who responded to a negative tweet with style and dignity. The response had a happy ending.
One of the key social media skills for real estate agents is listening to the web. Creating and subscribing to Google Alerts and Twitter searches are simple steps that can provide an agent with the advanced warning of a potential PR storm.
To demonstrate the importance of this skill I subscribe to a number of alerts and searches containing combinations of the words “property” and “real estate” and which include various agency and franchise names. I subscribe to these searches using Google Reader and check them frequently. One saved Twitter search returned a result that was far from complimentary to a Perth agent. It’s shown below and, out of respect for both the client and the agent, I’ve deleted names.
On noticing the tweet I immediately called the agent and brought the tweet to their attention. (Of course my recommendation is not to leave these things to chance but rather appoint someone to be responsible to perform this monitoring function – a story for another day.) To their credit the agent took immediate action. Instead of issuing a lawsuit, as Horizon did, they quickly posted an @ reply. The reply was simple, direct and assertive. Knowing they were dealing with a tenant disgruntled over an often-contentious tenancy bond disposal their tweet acknowledged the complaint and clearly outlined a course of action that would resolve the situation. A copy of the tweet, again suitably anonymised, is shown below.
The result? Overnight the tweet was deleted and the tenant and agent entered a productive dialogue to finalise the bond disposal.
What lessons can be learned from this example? First, listening to what is being said about you and your business, especially on Twitter, is an essential skill for anyone concerned about their reputation. The albeit accidental speed in which this tweet was identified and handled in no small measure influenced the outcome. Leaving a negative tweet unacknowledged invites trouble whereas a problem addressed is a problem solved.
Next, acknowledging a negative tweet in a respectful and assertive manner works in two ways. It shows that the business is listening and is willing to enter into a productive dialogue to resolve an issue and it also shows the business understands how Twitter works and is willing to use it to open up a line of communication to resolve a problem.
Finally, a response is part of a creative communicative process. In this case the agent sent an @ reply but, equally, they might have sent an email or made a call that referenced the tweet. Whichever the chosen course of action, speed and a willingness to solve a problem in a very public forum is paramount.