At the close of a transaction with clients, there is often a feeling of relief — for you and your customers. Through all the bumps, hurdles, emotions and deadlines, the joy and testimonials of happy clients are a shining beacon of a job well done. Or so you think.
When it comes to managing, marketing and building your brand, real estate often has the longest customer journey — lasting months to even years.
Consumer access to you and your brand comes across in a multitude of channels — social media, websites, search portals, collateral marketing, online reviews and word of mouth. In marketing, all of these channels are the portals that create the expectation consumers will have about you and your service.
The challenge is measuring what, when and how your service met those expectations. Our challenge as an industry is in surpassing those expectations.
It’s time to move past collecting a simple testimonial to collecting and measuring accurate business intelligence based on those customer experiences. In this blog series, my hope is to lend a holistic approach to accomplishing this — as agents, brokers and an industry.
Validate and learn from your client’s whole experience
What did you learn from your last client? Less than 10 percent of consumers find their agent online; 78 percent of real estate sellers and 63 percent of buyers still find their agent via recommendation from someone they know.
The only way to get your share of those referrals is to ensure the quality of your client experience — across all the channels and touch points — including after close.
Can you ask the hard question “How did I really do?” or do you just ask, “Hey, would you mind giving me a testimonial?” Knowing what your client would say to an objective third party is key.
How can you validate your awesomeness or, more importantly, your client’s real satisfaction? By truly measuring it.
- Create benchmarks of excellence for your brand, your company and every relationship and transaction. Marketing, negotiation, communication, handing over the keys, and every experience on the phone, in the car and at the closing table should have a standard of excellence.
- Create a culture that helps reward achievement on those benchmarks. Make it fun. If it’s just you, spoil yourself when you’ve hit all your marks.
- Understand how third-party partners (appraisers, inspectors, lenders) affect the overall expectations of your service. Ask questions about your third-party partners. Did they represent your benchmarks of excellence?
- Learn how and where you are getting most of your business (What if you are spending too much for online leads, when most of your business is referrals?) Knowing where your best customers are finding you is key.
Identify your brand advocates — share your success stories
You win some; you lose some. But your happy clients build your brand story. Clients are globally connected, and they expect that you are listening — on every channel — and demand a real-time relationship.
What are they saying? Some clients become clients for life; others not so much. What do you do when you have found the brand ambassadors who will raise their hand to be heard? How can you create an even more delightful, long-term relationship experience with clients who adore you?
- First, identify who your most vocal, loyal customers are.
- Give them a platform or a way to share their success story with you (social media, blog showcase or make them a star with a video testimonial).
- They have gone out of their way to shout your praises from the rooftops; thank them in unique and creative ways.
“Experience management” is the next big thing
In the recent article from Ekaterina Walter, “Why customer experience management is the future of marketing,” it’s clear the mounting evidence is real.
According to Gartner, “By 2016, 89 percent of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, versus 36 percent four years ago.”
By 2016, 89 percent of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, versus 36 percent four years ago.
Technology is not the only way to create better experiences for your clients. Real estate technology and marketing are moving way past the search, transaction and close.
Create a customer experience management system that illuminates your brand and helps you learn, discover and improve your business. Becoming a company connected to your relationships, not just your leads, should be a priority.
“The most positive, long-term impact you can make on your business is to build a program within your brand that allows you to connect with your most passionate customers and they with you,” according to social media strategist Mack Collier.