Technology has not diminished, but rather evolved the role of a real estate professional. While consumers have so much more information at their fingertips today to assist them with the home buying and selling processes, customer service has proven just as important as ever, if not more so.
A personal connection, providing the highest level of service to a consumer is a defining way to rise above and truly differentiate among competitors.
On Monday, we heard from two dynamic brokers during our Beta Broker Google+ Hangout regarding their approach to providing unforgettable customer service
Lane Hornung, cofounder and managing broker of 8z Real Estate in Boulder, Colo., and Susan Paul, broker/owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Move Time Realty in Scottsdale, Ariz., joined the hour-long discussion.
Here are five customer service techniques relevant to brokerages of all sizes.
1. Client surveys are simple and effective
Lane explained that 8z uses an online survey service (SurveyMonkey) to collect feedback from clients after every transaction. While much of the feedback is positive, it helps eliminate “blind spots” when the occasional negative feedback comes up, he said.
Often, the agent is unaware that there was even a problem, and having the feedback makes it easy to approach the topic and learn from the experience – a win for everyone.
2. A personal touch makes a huge difference
One of the things that Susan’s brokerage does is reinforce the brand by sending out Better Homes and Gardens magazine subscriptions. But the company goes one step further by including personal letters from the broker, which include Susan’s personal cell phone number, as a way of letting them know that her door is always open to help with whatever is needed.
3. Going the extra mile or two is noticed and remembered – especially post-close
Lane and Susan each had insightful stories about customer service situations in which the extra effort the agent put in made a world of difference. Lane spoke about examples of pre- and post-closing customer service techniques that were above and beyond.
“Post closing is where you can really differentiate,” he said, after telling a story about an 8z agent who helped a buyer fix a patio that had settled after the deal had gone through.
4. It’s good to follow a leader
Each broker talked about the company they emulated for customer service at their brokerage. And like many innovators, they look outside of their industry for inspiration. At 8z, it’s Nordstrom. At Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Move Time Realty, it’s Ritz-Carlton.
At each brokerage, they’re not just talking about what their model companies do, they’re translating it into their own companies. For instance, Lane said he’s sent his agents out to Nordstrom with gift cards and a mission to shop and spend time in the store and make note of particular things that helped define their experiences.
“They all came back with amazing experiences,” Lane said. “Their salespeople are fantastic. They have autonomy but operate within a framework that offers consistently excellent service.”
Susan has put systems to work at her brokerage that she learned while taking the Ritz-Carlton program herself. “The motto is ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen,” she said. “Everybody has to be treated with utmost respect.”
In the end, it’s about putting into play all that you learn from your model company and doing what you say you’re going to do – something that Susan values above all in her brokerage.
5. Follow through
Lane mentioned the net promoter framework as something that his brokerage uses to set the stage of their customer service and create consistency. It helps them follow through and measure their success in achieving that consistency.
Susan also talked about the importance of following through and how it’s at the center of their approach to great service.
“We do what we say we’re going to do,” she said.
To watch a recording of the hangout, visit the event page on Google.
Join us next time!
Join us for our next Beta Broker Hangout Monday, October 7, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. ET/ 11:00 a.m. PT on “Capitalizing on Emerging Business Opportunities in Real Estate”. Visit us on Google+ to find out more!
For more information on the Beta Brokerage Project, see NextGenBrokerage.com.
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