The real estate industry is about building relationships with your customers and creating an experience that wins them over. You’re looking to exceed expectations and wow customers so that they can’t help but refer you to the next person in their network who’s buying or selling a home.

I’ve been a part of this industry for more than 30 years, and I have witnessed firsthand the positive impact of excellent customer service — as well as the fallout from subpar experiences.

What I have found, through the relationships I’ve built with colleagues in this industry, along with managing hundreds of franchise owners around the nation, is that creating a customer service experience from start to finish is a very calculated process.

It’s imperative to have a systematic playbook. Online tools, customer surveys and consistent check-ins to evaluate your progress can all help you, as a real estate agent, improve that process. Here are four practical tips for creating the foundation for excellent customer service in your business.

Create a customer survey

If you don’t already have a streamlined survey to follow up with customers, create one now. You want a customer survey that you can share with customers after you’ve helped them buy or sell.

Give them a little bit of time to settle in, but you want to survey them while the experience is still relatively fresh, so you probably don’t want to wait for months to do this.

To further streamline the process, consider using a third-party survey system or review tool.

During the sale process, let your buyers or sellers know their feedback is important to you and to expect a very short survey (nobody wants to spend an entire afternoon answering your questions!).

Ask them to review your service online on your social media sites too. And, consider offering a small gift card in exchange for their feedback, good or bad!

Schedule in-person follow-ups with select customers

Choose a handful of customers, and invite them for coffee or lunch to do a review in person. You will likely pick up on body language and verbal queues you might not in a written survey.

Don’t forget to ask your happy homebuyers and sellers for referrals and to keep you in mind if their friends or family are considering a move. You may very well be missing out on referrals because you’re not overtly asking for them.

People like helping people. According to Psychology Today, merely asking for a favor can help increase a salesperson’s chances of sealing deals in negotiation.

Use that to your advantage when forming relationships with customers and referral sources — ask them for help.

Network with other agents

While on some level you may be competing with agents in your area, you can also learn from one another and create mutually beneficial relationships with allies who allow you both to grow your business.

Network with agents in your office or area to discuss how they evaluate their customer service experiences. Perhaps there are particular technologies that have been especially effective for them.

We stand to benefit when we position ourselves to learn from our peers. Likewise, be open to offering advice to others — create a two-way street with a trusted colleague in your network.

Be diligent when choosing other experts to work with  

You might work tirelessly to help your customer find the right property, only to have another professional who is part of the process poison the well for your client.

It’s going to reflect poorly on you if someone else your client interacts with presents poorly or delays the process (or worse, just does a bad job). That’s why it’s critical to evaluate the professionals you align with on an ongoing basis.

From home inspectors to mortgage officers to developers you partner with, be sure that the services and products they offer are top notch — and that they also provide valuable customer service experiences.

Ask them questions about how they evaluate their customer service experience and ways they work to improve it. You want to partner with like-minded professionals throughout the process who will make your clients’ buying and selling journey a smooth one and be a positive reflection on you!

Implement these four tips immediately, and watch your client experience and referrals soar.

Kathleen Kuhn is the president of HouseMaster. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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