When Does Customer Service Really Start: Mark McLeod

So much is written and discussed about customer service in our industry, says Mark McLeod, but the question is: when does someone start being our customer, and where – if ever – does it finish?

At a recent international conference, I attended with a team from Ray White, this very topic was a major discussion point.

I can’t help but think that at times our customer-centric view is reasonably myopic. By and large, I believe that we give reasonable service to the category of people that we call vendors and maybe, to a lesser degree, to our buyers.

As real estate professionals, we should view someone as our customer when they first interact with us, whether that is through digital channels or physical ones. However, research has shown that as an industry we are performing poorly in the digital space. Let’s look at some of the facts.

Upon initial contact with an agent online, 78 per cent of consumers expect a response within 30 minutes, and 94 per cent within an hour.

“But if I’m showing a property, or I’m at a presentation, I can’t call back that quickly,” I hear you cry.

Today’s customer has different expectations. Don’t you expect the same when you go online? And don’t forget, as they make that digital enquiry, this person is now your customer.

Another fact: 40 per cent of all digital leads are only contacted once. You should be attempting to contact them six times.

“Wow,” I hear you say. “How do I do that?”

Technology can do so much; surely it can help with this problem. I believe the solution for this begins with an understanding that this person is now your customer.

Upon initial contact with an agent online, 78 per cent of consumers expect a response within 30 minutes, and 94 per cent within an hour

The barrier to improved action and thinking in this space may stem from the fact that 79 per cent of all of these online enquiries actually lead to no commercial return. When you flip that on its head, that means that 21 per cent do. Think of the amount of digital traffic you receive. I bet 21 per cent of all that is an enticing number.

Many of the new players in our world such as the lead generation houses (you know who they are) understand this. They have seen – and used – our lack of understanding and willingness to change as the edge they need to make further inroads into our industry.

Let me tell you something. Whinging and whining on social media will do little to repel the growth of these groups. Understanding the modern customer, and adjusting to suit them, will.

In finishing, let me say this: a customer will reveal themselves digitally long before they do physically.

Are you prepared to make the change?

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Mark McLeod

Mark McLeod is the Ray White Group's Chief Strategy Officer for Real Estate. He works alongside agents and businesses across Australia, helping them reach their ultimate potential to achieve success.