The recent relaunch of the RealEstate.com.au website created a real buzz of activity on Twitter and Facebook the likes that we have never seen in our industry before. You had consumers and agents providing instantaneous feedback and discussing the new website at record levels for a real estate industry event.
I discussed the ugly side of Twitter about a year ago and in that article I said “Social networking and the internet in general has allowed a voice for everyone including your biggest critics”. Realestate.com.au found that out better than anybody as the new site went live.
Now this article is about that handled their complaints but to be fair there was a lot of praise amongst the twitter stream and facebook as well. But like always its the mud that sticks the longest and what people remember the most so its important that any company handles its complaints well even when they are the size of REA and there were a ton of complaints. The really impressive part was that it appears they were prepared for it and had an action plan in place that was executed brilliantly and agents should take notice. .
Someone was actively searching Twitter for any references to the relaunch and responding directly to the tweets concerned. They did not just respond to tweets directed at there twitter account of @realestate_au but they were actively seeking out anybody tweeting to their followers about the site, good and bad.
So when tweets like these started to show up
NathanKrisanski: New realestate.com.au website live today. what do you think? seems a little busy to me, but it is quicker & easier to use. DM me ur thoughts
alcro: Hey Realestate.com.au, your new site doesn’t work #REAfail
glenn_batten: @realestate_au Technical issue with your new site which may be causing more than a few people problems. http://bit.ly/bzaHuC Please fix 🙂
Brett_Hales: What is up with #realestate.com.au – if I search for a property everything is left justified. Looks ugly, check it out http://bit.ly/3wqDg
AnnalisaW @realestate_au can’t get it to load properly. Cumbersome. Most of content blocked by office filter.
portek I think the realestate.com.au suburb select for rentals is broken. Airport west is NOT North MElbourne.
they responded quickly to each person with:
realestate_au: @NathanKrisanski thx for your Tweet earlier today. If you have suggestions on making it less busy wld luv to hear them http://bit.ly/98znQe
realestate_au: @alcro Sorry to hear you are having issues with search – let us know the issue here and we will look into it – http://bit.ly/98znQe
realestate_au: @glenn_batten Thanks Glenn – already looking into it. Will keep you updated.
realestate_au: @Brett_Hales Glad you have been trying the new site – if you have suggestions for the search results share here – http://bit.ly/csJ79a
realestate_au @AnnalisaW sorry to hear you’re having issues – if you can, try another browser. if still having problems, let us know.
realestate_au @portek ok, might be best if you drop us a line at enquiries(at)realestate.com.au – we can direct your issue to the tech boffins there. thx
Their facebook page had similar sort of comments the only difference was that because it was on their wall they did not respond to every single comment as that would have seemed a touch too contrite.
The fact that they took the time to respond to so many consumers and agents was really fantastic and I was not the only one who thought so either:
charispalmer Impressive: @realestate_au getting back to everyone that has commented on the new site on Twitter
Rolling out a site the size and traffic load of Realestate.com.au would be a huge challenge and predictably there were problems that cropped so they didn’t just listen to the complaints on the social media but the technical team also used to identify real issues in a live environment. They were cross referencing live tweets with server logs to fix problems very quickly even before users filled out feedback forms..
I was a victim of one of the more obscure ones where an incompatibility between our isp’s proxy server and the realestate.com.au servers caused a certain css file to be delivered blank. This meant any search result pages had no styling applied at all and was just an ugly bunch of left justified text and photos.
Now I noticed the problem during the beta testing but since I never received an invitation I had to piggy back on a somebody else’s access I never reported it through the official beta feedback. But once the site went live I and others brought it to their attention of the technical team pretty quickly. Because I had some fantastic help from Nick here on this blog they they tracked down the cause very quickly and even went so far as to ring and work with individual isp’s to track down the problem.
There are certainly still problems outstanding that team are still working on including some fairly major suburb related issues. One of these causes absolutely no properties show for major suburbs but for the most part the site is running extremely well now.
So whether you like the new style or not you have to admire how realestate.com.au handled the complaints. Up till recently large corporations would normally respond to each call or email with the obligatory “you are the only person to be experiencing that issue” stock standard reply. But social media like Facebook and Twitter means you cant do this anymore. Everyone is far more educated and word spreads like wildfire.
Real estate groups and individual agents alike can learn a few lessons from how Realestate.com.au handled the recent release:
- No matter how good a job you do you are never going to please everyone and there are going to be days where no matter how hard you try you just make some mistakes.
- Be prepared and regularly monitor Twitter for tweets good and bad about your agency and your brand. Realestate.com.au probably dedicated a staff member to this job over the launch but agents thats not viable. Twilert was really good for this but it closed down because it could not handle the sheer success of Twitter but it has recently relaunched again and is a fantastic way to monitor your brand on Twitter.
- Similarly Monitor your facebook fan page for feedback from your fans. This is certainly easier because Facebook can email you with every comment as it has been added to your wall.
- Respond quickly, professionally and most importantly listen and be respectful.
- Ideally offer a different more private forum to receive further information on the problem and to discuss the issue.
Of course not everything went to plan and the funny thing is that if you are looking to handle complaints about the performance of your new website, directing them back to that problematic website was probably not the best idea in hindsight. Of course there is a lesson in there as well:
jasb @realestate_au i just submitted your feedback form and got could not be found! Check ur search results layout in chrome, its screwed!
Brett_Hales @realestate_au Thanks for the opportunity to provide some feedback – didn’t go too well upon submit http://twitpic.com/1fjap1