What separates good real estate professionals from great ones is straightforward: their dedication to serving clients and building relationships that help them land more of them.
But before you ask for a referral from your clients, you need to create a winning experience for them that makes them authentic advocates. I’ve been involved in the real estate industry for more than 30 years — working with real estate colleagues and managing more than 300 franchise owners in my system and have learned a lot about customer service along the way. Here are five practical tips for anyone in real estate looking to create the best possible service experience.
Look and act the part
The first impression of a home means just about everything for many buyers. That’s why sellers will pay companies a fair amount of money to stage a home for showings. As we know, buying a home is an extremely important moment for so many people, likely the biggest purchase they will ever make. That’s why it is imperative for real estate agents to look and act the part. First impression is going to be vital to people looking to you for guidance on buying their next home. Dress the part — position yourself as a professional who is always on the clock, someone who is ready to broker major deals. And make sure that your appearance — beyond just what you wear — is buttoned up. Your marketing collateral, your business cards and even your car should communicate you are an organized professional dedicated to service excellence. You want to wow your clients and prospects from the very first moment you meet with them.
Build a relationship from the start
Those first impressions will get your foot in the door. From there, it’s all about building your relationship and continuing to see it through. One of the biggest challenges about real estate is its demand on your time. Your clients are going to want — and, in some cases, need — to text, talk or meet with you during non-traditional hours, including evenings and weekends. The best real estate agents are available for clients when they need them. They are prompt and provide clients a realistic timeframe for when to expect things to happen. Communication is key — and building relationships with clients involves you setting expectations upfront. Anticipating clients’ questions and answering them before they ask will help you build trust and gain the confidence of your clients. In turn, it will also limit surprise or panicky messages from them, which will help you balance your time and serve additional clients.
Create memorable experiences
Building relationships takes time. One way to potentially accelerate that and help you stand out in the mind of your clients: Create moments for them to relax in times of stress or celebrate during joyful moments. Do extra research if your clients are particularly stressed about the schools, the market in the area or a feature of the property they are considering. Keep the lines of communications open, particularly when it comes to showings or open houses. Consider taking your client for coffee or lunch to give them an update face to face and further your relationship. Showing appreciation for the trust your client has put in you is a great way celebrate your client’s purchase. Top real estate agents consistently provide their clients with a closing gift to thank them for the opportunity to serve them and to congratulate them. Helping make their entire buying or selling experience comfortable and informed along the way can go a long way in helping to create good memories of the process when they look back on it.
Survey existing clients
To further improve customer service experiences, you ultimately need to have data from existing customers. It’s important to know what is working, what isn’t and, from there, refine your system. Give recent clients some time to settle in and then offer them a customer survey to gauge how well you performed. Third-party survey systems or review tools can help streamline the delivery and execution of surveying. Clients need to know their feedback is important to you and that the survey is not going to be too taxing (nobody wants to take a college exam after going through the long process of buying or selling a property). Ask for online reviews too as they are important to building your reputation and happy customers will often be pleased to sing your praises.
Align with the right experts
As mentioned, fostering relationships can take a lot of effort and time. But they can also deteriorate very quickly through missteps — sometimes not even of your own accord. It is going to reflect poorly on you if someone else in the buying or selling process performs poorly. To exceed clients’ expectations, I would recommend regular vetting of the professionals your clients will need to complete the transaction. From home inspectors to mortgage officers to home stagers, be sure the services and products they offer are in line with your expectations. You want them to care about the client as much as you do. Find out how they evaluate their customer service experience. You ultimately want to partner with other real estate pros that will make your clients' buying and selling journey a smooth one. It will put an exclamation point on the entire experience for your client, leading to more referrals and more business for you.
About the author:
Kathleen Kuhn is President of HouseMaster, the original home inspection franchise. She oversees an organization with more than 315 franchise locations across the U.S. and Canada. HouseMaster has an average net promoter score (NPS) of 92, a near-perfect customer service mark that puts it ahead of the NPS of some of the most customer-centric organizations like Ritz-Carlton and Apple.
For more information, visit: https://housemaster.com/home-inspection-realtors