New research shows that delivering great customer service to vendors and buyers can turbocharge your real estate business by increasing referrals and creating customers for life. Kylie Davis suggests some practical resolutions to ensure you see benefits of adequately serving both groups.
The Consumer Perceptions of Real Estate Agents research from CoreLogic identifies that 36 per cent of sellers would definitely use their agent again, while 25 per cent of buyers would go back to the agent they bought from. It also shows that 68 per cent of vendors would recommend their agent to friends and family, while 57 per cent of buyers would do the same. Every time an agent sells a property, they have two opportunities to create a relationship for life – the opportunity with the seller, and the opportunity with the successful buyer. ‘Banking’ customers for future relationships makes perfect sense. Why then do only a minority of real estate agents take this seriously?
Every time an agent sells a property, they have two opportunities to create a relationship for life.
If you want to grow your business, stand out from the crowd by delivering a great experience for both sellers and buyers. Even better news – what sellers and buyers want from real estate agents is surprisingly similar.
So make 2017 the year that your agency bridges the gaps between buyer and seller service by adopting these eight resolutions.
1. Resolve to demonstrate a transparent process from end to end: Both buyers and sellers want to understand the selling and buying process in advance, be advised where issues are likely to occur and understand how these issues will be dealt with. They also want agents to recognise that the process finishes at settlement once they have all happily moved into their new property. Create a document that outlines your process which you can share with sellers and buyers, and consider adding a simplified version of it to your website.
2. Resolve to be honest: The research shows buyers and sellers want an agent who is upfront with them and straightforward in their dealings. Customers smell bull$&*7 a mile off. It is the fastest way to guarantee disengagement from buyers and fury in vendors. Examine your internal processes for sales staff – are you rewarding good behaviour, or results at any price?
3. Resolve always to deliver empathy and care: Both buyers and sellers want agents to listen and understand their needs. Agents who took their personal needs into account when recommending properties or sales methods were most likely to receive ‘excellent’ ratings from buyers and sellers, while those agents who tried to force-fit clients into options that put the agents’ business ahead of the client circumstances received poor ratings. Does your agency value understanding the needs of vendors and buyers and creating a genuine relationship? Resolve to move away from the transaction model.
4. Resolve always to be proactive: Buyers and sellers were both delighted by agents who pre-empted their needs. Both sets of customers valued agents who helped them avoid the stress of common mistakes, who had good processes for calling out issues and who were willing to pick up the phone.
Resolve to make sure your agents are proactive about calling clients, especially when the news is bad.
Check again that you are rewarding the right behaviour.
5. Resolve to be more transparent around pricing: Demonstrating pricing expectations with data-proof points, such as lists of recent sales or property reports, was rated as valuable by both buyers and vendors. Both buyers and sellers also felt that agents who directed them to tools and reports so they could sanity-check their thinking delivered great service. How does your agency direct clients who want more proof of pricing? Create a list of recommended websites or resources that you encourage buyers and sellers to use to check their pricing understanding, or resolve to add a widget to your website that will provide information in this space.
6. Resolve to deliver great communication and accountability: Clients want agents to do everything they say they will do, regardless of what side of the transaction they are on. Regular contact and follow-up at every stage is essential. Buyers also valued the option to make one final offer in a negotiation. Examine your processes around calling clients back and how those conversations are managed. Are there carrots and sticks for agent behaviour in this space within your agency?
7. Resolve to be friendly and approachable: Buyers and sellers highly appreciated agents who were easy to talk to and with whom they felt safe to ask questions at any time, or who coached and mentored them through the sale/purchase process. Resolve to hire for attitude.
8. Resolve to deliver relationships, not transactions Both buyers and vendors were impressed by agents who demonstrated they were interested in the relationship with them as a long-term client, not just a lead or a transaction. Look at your entire customer engagement process from end to end. How do you make your clients – and potential clients – feel like people, not numbers? How are you helping build a local community?