(This is Part 2 of a two-part series. See Part 1: What consumers want from a real estate agent.)
Last week’s column compared two different customer service experiences. Both sets of buyers had good customer experiences. The question is how to shift your customer service from good to great?
Almost all agents want their clients to have a great customer service experience. The difference between good and great is often minor. If you want to upgrade the experience your clients have, here are 10 suggestions.
1. Connection is the name of the game
More than anything else, your clients want you to hear their needs and be responsive to those needs. This means asking questions about what matters to them, exploring how they live their lives, and never trying to run your own agenda. When it comes to a great customer experience, making your clients the center of your universe is a winning strategy.
2. Start on time and end early
Men and women differ in their attitudes toward time. Men are more likely to feel they have limited time and are more likely to become angry when appointments run late. To address this difference, always tell your clients your appointment will take 20-30 minutes longer than you anticipate. By allowing extra time, you avoid having to apologize about traffic or other delays. You also seem more efficient. Best of all, your clients are delighted to finish early.
3. Demonstrate you understand their smallest needs
Before taking buyers out to view property, determine what types of drinks and snacks they enjoy. Have these available. If they are Starbuck’s fans, pick up their favorite coffee drink and have it waiting when they walk into your office. If your clients have children, give the kids a coloring book or some games to keep them occupied during your appointment.
4. Be a conduit of information
Whether your sellers are relocating or you have out-of-area buyers, be a resource for neighborhood and Chamber of Commerce information. For relocating sellers, personally contact several relocation agents. Interview each agent to determine who is most competent. Send the agent digital pictures of the sellers’ present property. For buyers, create a welcome kit packed with information about local vendors, schools, places of worship, recreational activities, etc. In either case, update your clients a minimum of once weekly in terms of new listings, sales and changes in interest rates.
5. Collect available virtual tours and burn them on a disk
This is a time saver for both you and your clients. Rather than taking your sellers out to see the comparable sales, give them a CD that shows competing listings. For relocation buyers, sending them a CD packed with virtual tours will dramatically reduce the number of homes you will have to show. It will also help you refine your search parameters more quickly.
6. Dig for history
Why is a seller moving? How long has the property been listed? Is there an urgent reason the buyer or seller must take action now? This information will help you negotiate more powerfully on behalf of your clients. The more you know, the more powerful you will be at the negotiation table. The better the price, the happier your clients will be with their customer experience.
7. Be at your best
If you’re tired, stressed out or feeling grumpy, your clients will not have a great customer experience. Clients enjoy working with positive, energetic and knowledgeable agents. This also means you are well groomed, your car is sparkling clean, and that you always act professionally. Avoid chewing gum, using foul language, or referring to religion, politics or other controversial topics. To the best of your ability, avoid too much caffeine, eat well, and make sure you have plenty of sleep.
8. Give your clients a stellar office experience
Is the receptionist in your office pleasant to clients? Is the reception area clean and attractive? How does the rest of the office look? Are the other agents the high-quality professionals you would want your clients to meet? If there are problems with your receptionist, route your calls directly to your phone. If the office is less than stellar, meet clients at their home, for coffee, or at your home office. If the agents and the office do not make you proud, consider finding an office that does.
9. Outline options and then let your clients decide
Rather than telling your sellers the price where they should list their property, give them the best information about current market conditions, how long it takes to market the property at higher price points, and then let them decide. The same is true when negotiating offers. Outline options and let the clients decide their course of action.
10. Focus on the customer experience, not the outcome
Let go of any attachment you have to the outcome. When your focus is on obtaining your goals rather than those of your clients, you will not provide a stellar customer experience. In contrast, when clients realize you only want the very best for them, you create the type of experience that converts them into raving fans who will refer you business for years to come.
Special thanks to Byron Van Arsdale, co-owner of RealEstateCoach.com, whose work is the basis for this column.
Bernice Ross is an owner of Realestatecoach.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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