Traditionally, real estate has been viewed as a sales industry. But perceptions are changing. Agents around the country are coming to believe that the key to real estate success is service – not sales.
Competition and technology now give customers almost unlimited choices, so agents are having to work harder and spend more to win listings. They’re discovering that business success comes from repeat business and word-of-mouth.
And customer service is the key.
Loyalty and good-will can’t be bought – not even with the sale of a house. Customers like to be treated with honesty, respect, and integrity. They want a realistic and accurate property appraisal. They want an agent who commits to action. They want to be able to speak to someone who can help them when they call. They want to feel welcome when they walk into the office. They don’t want their intelligence insulted by advertising. They don’t want to be fed a line (even if it is what they’d like to hear…).
Agents with business sense know that if they can provide this customer service – if they can pioneer great customer service in real estate – they’ll have a real edge on their competitors. Far from being an impediment to success, they see today’s marketplace as an opportunity to flourish.
Obviously, the sale is still critical, but it’s part of a greater whole – almost like a critical KPI (Key Performance Indicator). It’s based on the simple premise – serve and you will sell. The premise holds true because all the pre-requisites of a sale are intrinsic to good customer service: The price is realistic, the marketing is intelligent, the advertising appropriate, and commitments are made and kept. Vendors, buyers, landlords, and tenants alike receive the same high level of customer service.
Quick Tips for Finding a Service Oriented Agent
1) Ask to see references – It’s not that much different from a job interview. Think of the agent as the job seeker, and encourage them to prove their customer service qualifications. The right agent will be only too happy to provide as many references as you’d care to see.
2) Analyse their business growth – Assuming their references are in order, ask after their business growth. References provide you with qualitative evidence of customer focus. You should supplement this with something quantitative. If the agent is still growing rapidly in today’s environment, then they must be doing something right.
3) Analyse their market share – Like growth, market share can be an indicator of customer focus. Ask what their share of the target market is.
4) Observe their behaviour – Do they return phone calls? Do they commit to action? Do they meet their commitments? Are the punctual? Do they keep you informed? Do they remember important details you provide them?
5) Gauge access to staff – When you first called, did you get to speak to someone who could help you? If not – if they took your name and number and told you they’d get someone to call you back, this might be indicative of their customer service approach.