Reap long term benefits by taking time to fully understand the need for great customer service:
I have always worked from a platform of exceptional customer service, but I am not sure that all other estate agents feel that this is the most important aspect of their job, as I do. I feel that many are so concentrated on being target driven and getting the next deal on the board, that they lose sight of the long term benefits of building relationships, taking time to fully understand their customers, and then offering a far more personal and, in my view, excellent service from the outset.
I have a huge passion for getting teams to work towards the collective goal of ‘being better’, giving ‘wow’ moments and generating referral business, rather than just concentrating on ‘the next deal’. I have never seen this approach fail, it might take a little longer to build momentum from the outset, but I have always seen better results in the long run, and far greater staff engagement leading to a very happy workplace.
If you are intending on building a business either for continued growth or with an exit strategy in mind, you need to focus on repeat business, on gaining referrals and on getting great customer reviews in order to encourage others to use your agency. Of course, if you have no intention of being in the business long term then feel free to treat your customers as badly as you wish, and let those who do want to remain in business reap the rewards of your failure to please.
I have come across so many examples through my years of agency life where clients have taken the ‘cheap option’ on fees, only to come back with tales of how terrible the service was, how they were treated unfairly and, sadly, in some instances, how their initial saving on fees resulted in thousands of pounds in losses when a tenant turned out to be a nightmare.
I would draw your attention to the 4-Dimensional customer:
1. The tenant leaves their rental property and buys a property – are they likely to even register with your agency if they have had a terrible experience as a tenant?
2. The landlord decides to expand their portfolio and buy more investment properties – will they trust your judgement and look to buy or rent that investment property through you if you have given them a sub-standard service already?
3. The buyer decides to move again and to retain their first home as a buy-to-let investment – will they come back to you, the agent who sold them the property in the first place, because you gave such an outstanding service and have kept in touch with them over the interim years?
4. The vendor cannot sell their property in this market, they might rent it out instead – if you haven’t been pro-active in securing a buyer or keeping them informed of progress every step of the way, they might just put their home up for rent with one of your competitors!
The other thing to bear in mind is that you might think your staff are fully engaged and are treating the customers exactly as you would, but are they? Please monitor your customer service offering and learn from any gaps or errors made. Staff need to see you lead by example, so take time out of your routine as a manager, director or business owner to put yourself in their shoes every so often; be seen to register an applicant, conduct a viewing, negotiate a deal and continue to show your staff how to treat the customers in the best way possible at every step of the selling or renting journey. Keep in mind that 1, 2, 5 or 10 years down the line, the service you provide should mean you remain the number one person to call when it’s time to move or invest again, or that at any time their friends, family or colleagues say ‘I am thinking of moving’, your brand will be the one recommended to them.
I am happy to meet with any business owner or director, take a look at the set-up, see what issues are playing out and what I can do to assist. If I feel that I can help then I will put a plan together and be available for whatever length of time we agree.
Jane Gardner, FARLA, MNAEA