Traditionally, the real estate sector has been considered a sales sector. But perceptions are changing. Agents across the country are beginning to believe that the key to real estate success is service, not sales.
Competition and technology now provide clients with almost limitless options, so agents have to work harder and spend more to earn listings. They are discovering that business success comes from repeat business and word of mouth.
And customer service is the key.
Loyalty and goodwill cannot be bought, not even by selling a house. Clients like to be treated with honesty, respect and integrity. They want a realistic and accurate property valuation. They want an agent committed to action. They want to be able to talk to someone who can help them when they call. They want to feel welcome when they walk into the office. They don’t want advertising to insult their intelligence. They don’t want to get a line (even if that’s what they want to hear …).
Agents with good business sense know that if they can provide this customer service, if they can pioneer excellent customer service in real estate, they will have a real advantage over their competitors. Far from being an obstacle to success, they see today’s market as an opportunity to prosper.
Of course, selling is still fundamental, but it is part of a bigger whole, almost like a critical KPI (key performance indicator). It is based on a simple premise: serve and you will sell. The premise is true because all of the prerequisites of a sale are intrinsic to good customer service: the price is realistic, the marketing is smart, the advertising is appropriate, and commitments are made and kept. Sellers, buyers, landlords, and tenants receive the same high level of customer service.
5 quick tips for finding a service-oriented agent
1) Ask to see references: It is not much different from a job interview. Think of the agent as a job seeker and encourage him or her to demonstrate their customer service qualifications. The right agent will be happy to provide you with the references you would like to see.
2) Analyze your business growth: Assuming your references are in order, ask about your business growth. References provide qualitative evidence of customer service. You should supplement this with something quantitative. If the agent continues to grow rapidly in today’s environment, it must do something right.
3) Analyze your market share: Like growth, market share can be an indicator of customer focus. Ask what your target market share is.
4) Observe their behavior: do they take phone calls? Are they committed to action? Do they honor their commitments? Are they on time? Do they keep you informed? Do you remember the important details you give them?
5) Measure access to staff: When you first called, did you speak to someone who could help you? Otherwise, if they took your name and number and told you they would ask someone to call you back, this could be indicative of their approach to customer service.