“I don’t do business with you because of your product. I do business with you because of the service you give and the perceived value I get from that. It helps me sleep at night from 1,000 miles away.”
That is an actual quote from a Thank You card we received from an investor that taught me everything I needed to know about succeeding in today’s investment real estate world. Providing great Customer Service had nothing to do with easy to remember 800 numbers and even less to do with under cutting other investment companies on price points. What real estate investors really want in today’s investing environment is competence, intelligence, transparency and availability. They want to do business with people that help them feel comfortable with making investment decisions in such a different real estate environment. Do you do that?
Customer Service In Real Estate Can Set You Apart
Unfortunately, in most businesses, customers have come to expect poor service and have lowered their expectations. However, that is a good thing for companies that are pro-active and use their customer service as a tool for attracting and keeping clients. The bar has been set so low that customers are looking for simple steps and basic, almost elementary, actions to determine a real estate company to use for their expertise when investing in real estate.
We were recently told by an over-seas investor that he was so impressed with our company that whether or not we did business, he would telling other investors about our company. I could only shake my head in disbelief as he told me the most impressive thing was that we actually answered his emails and phone calls promptly, kept our appointment time with him without rescheduling due to conflicts in our schedule and everyone smiled and got up from their desk or office to introduce themselves and shake his hand. This was confirmation of just how low the standard had become for great service.
Here are some tips to implement and remind your company of daily to help concentrate on providing great service.
Many real estate investors are not investing in their own backyards, instead choosing to invest in remote locations. That means that they are looking for people and companies that they can trust and connect with for their investing needs. The first attracter for most people in general is do they even “like” the person on the other end of the line. While marketing materials and websites can absolutely enhance and even promote a likeable image, the real test comes with the first connection. If you are not coming across as a friendly voice and someone that makes a real estate investor comfortable quickly, the chances of getting to the next level of a business relationship are greatly diminished.
An absolute killer for many business owners, not just real estate professionals is what we call phone reluctance. It is a paralyzing fear to pick up the phone and deliver bad news or any piece of information that may conflict with a customers needs, wants or even a piece of information that you have already communicated. The reality is that the quicker you communicate with a client the better for everyone involved. The stress of having to make the call is eliminated, a sense of belief that you can be trusted is developed and your ability to build on your actions as a good and trusted partner in their success is started. Study after study with consumers has shown that simply communicating honestly in a timely manner is a huge reason customers remain loyal to companies. They know they can trust the company or person they are doing business with to keep the customers best interest first. Often times, simply communicating reduces the sting of bad news.
Listening is a skill. Listening is a habit. The great thing about those two statements is that each defines something that can be taught, practiced and learned. The biggest mistake that real estate professionals make when it comes to listening is made when it comes to responding. I have met more than my fair share of real estate pros that have canned answers and talking points that they want to get across regardless of what is being said. This shows a lack of ability when it comes to listening. To be a great listener, you have to be willing to shut up (excuse the bluntness) and pay attention to what your customer is saying. Really pay attention. Sometimes, a customer does not want a response from you and they certainly do not want an explanation. What they want is to know that you will be quiet and let them voice their concern or frustration. They want to know that you understand that they may not always be right, but they are always the customer! Learning to respond correctly is another learned skill that goes well beyond this article, but with a little empathy and a willingness to let a customer speak fully and completely before trying to solve their problem, will go a long way in learning how to help.
I know I said responding correctly would be a whole separate article, but let me point out one huge piece of advice when it comes to a proper response to a customers needs. Always exceed expectations!
It takes very little effort to actually do what you say you are going to do. If you do not mean what you are saying or are not capable of actually complying with the words coming out of your mouth – DO NOT SAY THEM! The level of expectation in today’s real estate environment is so low that simply doing what you say you are going to do or following up when you say you will follow up is often all it takes to make a customer happy. How simple is that? But what if you did a little extra? What if you sent a thank you card as follow-up, called with an answer tonight instead of tomorrow as you agreed, paid for a bill that should have been the customers. What if you simply did a little more than the customer expected? How far would that go in helping you make a positive impression?
You would be surprised at how easy it is to determine your mood over the phone. A client can hear your smile or your frown or your smirk or general lack of interest or your undeniable enthusiasm. Your mood and your words should match. If you want a client or a potential customer to believe in you – especially from a distance, then you have to earn their trust. Don’t fake it. Simply make sure that your excitement and desire to work with that customer is matched by your words and your attitude. Placing a smile on your face can go a long way to earning the trust of the customer on the other end of the line.
In a Customer Service video I found on YouTube titled “Word On The Street”, random people are interviewed on the streets of New York City on what frustrates them about Customer Service and how do they define great service. If you want additional insight on how important providing great customer service can be, watch that video of random people and pay close attention to what they say about service. It can be the difference between setting yourself apart from or simply fading into the crowded field of real estate professionals.