Ninety percent of homebuyers claim they would use their real estate agent again or recommend their agent to others, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). It’s an extremely high number, but NAR also reports that, in actuality, the typical Realtor earned merely 13 percent of business from repeat clients and 17 percent through referrals from past customers.
These two statistics show a disconnect. At some point in the process, consumers are disengaged from their trusted agent. To avoid this, there is a simple exercise real estate agents can use to bridge this gap and increase repeat and referral business.
It’s called Mapping the Consumer Journey.
What is Mapping the Consumer Journey?
Mapping the Consumer Journey is a process that helps you better understand your customers and ultimately better serve them. It’s a way to identify and illustrate their needs, from the very first touchpoint through the very last.
Why is it important?
By taking the time to understand the consumer’s needs, desires and challenges along the way, you can proactively address them and positively affect how you are perceived by the consumer. When successful, you transform clients into advocates, who become your greatest resource in building word-of-mouth business.\
How do I start mapping?
The process is best done as a group exercise to ensure different points of view are represented. You can gather members of your team, office or even colleagues across your brand. To begin, you’ll need a whiteboard or a wall and a stack of sticky-notes. Once you’ve gathered your materials, follow these simple steps:
Step 1: Identify a specific consumer. For example, a first-time homebuyer is a specific consumer.
Step 2: Identify each step the first-time homebuyer takes along the home-buying journey with you. What is the first thing the consumer does? Perhaps it’s searching for a home on your website. Maybe it’s set up a meeting with you. Write each step across your workspace in a linear fashion until you come to the very last interaction.
Step 3: Under each step, assign emotions the customers may experience during that time. What types of feelings do consumers experience during the web search, the home tours or at the closing? Each step can have more than one emotion assigned to it.
Step 4: Finally, identify the ways you interact with the consumer at each of these moments. Maybe it’s with emails or phone calls or text messages. What materials are given to them, how are they delivered and what is the chosen method for communication? Write it all down.
How do I put it into practice?
Now that you have a visual representation of the consumer journey mapped out in front of you, use those insights to enhance your service model. For example, if you know there is friction or frustration around the inspection process, determine how to proactively enhance your clients’ experience and reduce feelings of frustration. Maybe it’s providing a guide to inspections so that common occurrences in the process are now less likely to shake a first-time buyer’s confidence.
This exercise is not unique to real estate. It works across roles and industries that rely on relationships to grow. But this is also not a one and done exercise. It’s important to validate the changes and improvements you’ve made along the way. Listen to your client’s feedback to enhance your approach and ensure you are delivering the highest level of value.
By taking the time and making the effort to build a better relationship with your clients, an excellent customer experience is created and that is the key to building repeat and referral business.