EPMEPM: Customer ServiceEPM: First Person

Lauren Kirk: Is Your Customer in Control?

When it comes to service, consciously or unconsciously your customers expect you to provide an excellent experience at every point of the transaction. Lauren Kirk looks at what you can do to meet their expectations while staying in control of the process.

Think about the way you communicate: emails, texts, Facebook messages, WhatsApp, phone calls, Instagram, Snapchat; the list goes on and on and can become a little overwhelming at times. No wonder, since the average person touches their mobile phone more than 500 times a day. But we are part of a world and an industry that needs to be connected.

Our clients, both landlords and tenants, are connected to communication 24/7 and the delay between thought and action is next to nothing. They are constantly powered-on; they want everything now. There is urgency, heightened importance, a need to know and a desire for information to be at their fingertips. So, naturally, their expectations are continuing to change each and every year. The bar has been set by other industries and your clients compare you to those industries.

Quick, personalised responses are a service benchmark across all sectors, which means the customer is very much in control. This also means their loyalty is harder to maintain – they expect more for less and in their time frame, not ours.

But we can still control the controllable. What stands between you and customer satisfaction is simple. It’s you and your communication. Timely, responsive, relevant communication is key.

1. Ensure it’s like for like. How your clients communicate with you is how they want to hear from you. While it’s important to have everything in writing, make sure you use the same channel they used to reach out to you. Understand what works for them (not everyone loves email!), which is best agreed on at the beginning of the relationship. It helps show that you understand them as a client.

2. Help them become DIY problem solvers. We know that people hate to waste time and they want convenience. Self-paced, self-service communication, such as your landlord and tenant portals, can give clients access to what they want. It’s about turning them into DIY problem solvers. User-friendly websites, knowledge bases, FAQs, educational blogs and videos all help to give your clients the information they are chasing you for.

3. Create proactive transparency. Your client wants to know what’s going on, not after the event but as it’s happening. Providing clear communication throughout the whole process and making those invisible steps visible will improve your client relationships. The biggest mistake we can make is assuming the client knows what happens next. We do this every day; they don’t.

Your client wants to know what’s going on, not after the event but as it’s happening.

4. Remember that they are unique individuals. Higher cost of service requires a personalised approach, so you need to personalise your communication with your client to reflect that you know who they are and what they need. Remember, everyone is different and has different reasons for investing and they want a tailored approach.

5. Automate. Automation is not about saving you time. Yes, it’s streamlining what you do and perhaps improving your systems and processes, but think about how automated communication and technology can help make the experience more seamless for your customers (not easier for you!).

6. Authenticity and care. Most importantly, the biggest key to communication, and building and maintaining relationships with your landlords and tenants, is creating an experience. Show them you care through authenticity in everything you do, and your clients’ expectations will not only be met but more than likely exceeded.

Remember, you cannot over-communicate anything relating to your client’s property. If you don’t make the call, someone else will.

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Lauren Kirk

Lauren holds over 14 years in the real estate industry and has accumulated a vast amount of experience all aspects of real estate, including sales, property management, business development and leadership as well as working with a corporate network to grow and develop their businesses.