What Customer Service Means Today

02.07.2012

There was a time when providing great service in real estate meant getting an understanding of the lifestyles of clients and teaching them what they didn’t already know.

Daily Real Estate News | Friday, February 03, 2012

There was a time when providing great service in real estate meant getting an understanding of the lifestyles of clients and teaching them what they didn’t already know. Simply providing them with information on homes for sale, pricing, current mortgage rates and data relevant to the transaction gave practitioners a strong leg-up as consumer access to such information was limited.
 
“Today, that doesn’t happen anymore,” says Austin Allison, CEO of DotLoop, which provides solutions that facilitate paperless real estate transactions. “They call up the agent and say, ‘Hey, I found these 15 homes. Can you show them to me?’”
 
Consumers — especially those under 40 — want to find that information on their own, Allison says. When they do contact a real estate professional, they’ve often done quite a bit of research on the Web. Because they’re starting from a higher baseline of knowledge, what they want most from their agent today isn’t market intelligence or listing info, but rather someone to manage their transaction seamlessly.
 
He points to Apple and Amazon as models to which real estate practitioners can aspire. At Apple’s retail stores, customers aren’t being bombarded with hard sells and extraneous information about things they don’t want. Instead, if they have questions about a particular product, they ask one of the knowledgeable people who work there and get a detailed, informed answer. If not, they pick up the item they came in knowing they wanted and purchase it.
 
Similarly, visitors can go to Amazon.com knowing they can either get plenty of information and reviews on a particular product if they want it, or they can just buy it very quickly via the site’s one-click checkout.
 
“The lower end of Generation X and Generation Y like it like this,” explains Allison, and adds that these consumers make up the majority of first-time home buyers now. “A good experience is the real estate agent getting out of [their] way.”
 
A great way to determine whether or not you’re providing an excellent customer service experience is to calculate the ratio of leads generated to leads converted, he says. The higher that number is, the better. And of course, the number of transactions you’re closing and how satisfied buyers and sellers are at the end of the process are critical too.
 
Real estate professionals who make the adjustment to the Apple/Amazon model of service stand to benefit as housing recovers and new consumers enter the market over the next few years. But Allison is concerned that too many practitioners are locked into the old way of doing things.
 
“A lot of the industry is in denial,” he says. “Is the real estate agent going away? Highly unlikely. But their role is going to evolve. The real estate agents who refuse to acknowledge that and make changes are going to pay for it.”
 
By Brian Summerfield, REALTOR® Magazine

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