Zillow’s Racquel Russell offers four tips on having the best approach to customers while also setting sights on long-term growth.

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While how to best serve a client is always top-of-mind, a busy day-to-day can lock agents into routines that make a personalized approach difficult.

The key is to stay organized but never lose sight of the client’s story, Zillow’s Vice President Of Partner Success And Government Relations Racquel Russell said during an Inman Connect session on Thursday entitled, “Tips for Optimizing Conversion and Creating a Winning Customer Experience.”

“When it comes to real estate, customers still like guidance and the counsel of a sounding board as they make one of the biggest and sometimes even scariest decisions of their life,” Russell told moderator Amy Somerville. “This is still a business about human connection and that’s because customers need to trust their agents.”

Raquel Russell | Photo credit: Zillow

Here are four of Russell’s tips for staying efficient while also offering your clients the best possible experience:

Be available

For all the talk to the contrary, the pandemic has not changed customer desire to feel like they are the most important client on your roster. Rushed emails and kids screaming in the background of a phone call might have been okay when everyone was adjusting to new realities at the start of the pandemic but, in 2021 customers expect the agent to be fully focused on them. As Russell points out, carving out time and working around busy schedules (whether that means replying to emails at night or hopping into a car to meet) is key to making each buyer feel important and valued.

“All of our data and insights are showing that customers and consumers are still expecting the same kind of experience that they’ve always had before,” Russell said. “And one of the things that they expect is immediate results.”

Focus on the customer, not the transaction

At a certain point, agents who work with hundreds of clients may get into “business mode” and start making mental calculations of just how much a home can sell for and what a buyer can qualify for before even hearing the clients’ wishes. But behind the vast majority of sales is still a family who is making one of the most important decisions of its life. According to Russell, agents should never lose sight of that story — even with what might seem like the simplest or the most transactional of sales.

“Especially in those first couple meetings, don’t worry about whether they are pre-qualified,” Russell said. “Talk to them about what they want and what are they interested in. Talk to them as a person and build that trust and then go from there because that’s where the value proposition is going to come through.”

Invest in team coaching, training and development

As your real estate business grows, it is extremely important to develop long-term strategies and train new people who come aboard to have the same vision when it comes to customer relations. Along with being a way to build trust with one’s agents and colleagues, regular check-ins can break a team out of auto-pilot and make you see where there is room for improvement.

“This is your brand and your reputation on the line,” Russell said. “As you’re trying to create ‘minis yous’ and an extension of your brand, the ability to teach and train and coach is just so imperative.”

Amy Somerville (left) and Racquel Russell (right) | Inman Connect

Use technology to streamline certain tasks

Building a successful real estate business can never impede on the time an agent devotes to her customers, even as the business grows and expands. One way avoid this problem is by investing in technology that streamlines certain daily tasks and operations, Russell said. This can be as simple as a successful internal communication platform and lead generating services or as high-tech as artificial intelligence that offers agents market insights.

“Find those inefficiencies that are happening right now in the real estate transaction and find the ways, through technology, to make those things easier so that agents can use their superpower on the customer,” Russell said.

Email Veronika Bondarenko

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