Over the years I’ve read countless articles from a real estate agent’s perspective on how to treat clients, fiduciary responsibilities and the do’s and don’ts of good customer service. I’ve sat through courses, lectures, break-out sessions, keynotes and thumbed my way through more than one industry periodical — researching the the ins and outs of how clients should be valued.
I often chuckle at the pride sales professionals exhibit as they talk about how they deliver on the expectations of their clients. How they protect their client’s best interests. How they created another happy customer. However, extraordinarily large numbers of these clients and customers do not return back to the sales professional for future transactions.
A study conducted some years ago in the real estate industry concluded that 80% of consumers are happy at the closing table. The report indicated that the clients were happy with the level of service, they were happy with the deal that was put on paper and they were even happy with the overall experience. Yet only 11% of those same happy clients ever ended up utilizing the services of the sales professional again. Why the disconnect? I certainly have my opinions, and I’ve been vocal about them for a number of years. Wouldn’t it be great to hear the real answers from a client, customer or consumer instead of some talking head or pontificating expert?
Enter Patrick Byers, an educated consumer and orphaned home-seller who experienced a real life transaction and lived to write about it on his blog. Patrick just so happens to be a marketing expert, but his insights taken from his own personal real estate transaction are priceless. Let’s take a look at his article published September 15th, 2008….
Marketing matters in good times and bad
When we sold our last home, the market was strong. Prices were going up and houses were selling quickly.
I briefly considered going the FSBO route, but we needed to sell fast and we didn’t want to go it alone.
When we met our real estate agent, we thought he was a dream come true. He couldn’t have been more helpful or accessible, as a “neighborhood expert” he knew the neighborhood better than anyone, and he had a “whole network” of people that could help us if your house needed any work done after our inspection.
Since he had more yard signs than anyone in the neighborhood, we hired him.
Then everything changed:
· After we signed the contract, all our calls went to voice mail and it typically took at least a day or two to get back to us.
· We had a difference of opinion regarding home valuation. I thought it was worth more than he did, mostly because the comps he was using were for smaller homes in a less desirable area. I personally found comps closer to the size, condition an layout of our home that sold in a few days for considerably more. Due to our desire to sell quickly, I accepted his recommended selling price.
· He sold us on an “amazing photographer,” but due to a “scheduling conflict” the photographer couldn’t make it in time for us to get our home on the market. I took the pictures, and as an added bonus, I had the pleasure of dealing with an “IT person” when my agent had technical difficulties with the digital files.
· Though our home was barely five years old, the inspector found a few items that needed attention. When I called to take him up on his “whole network” offer, there was nobody available to help. I searched Angie’s List and found the resources I needed to get the work done.
· When our home went on the market, it sold in less than a half an hour to the first person that viewed it—at full asking price and with no contingencies. Clearly, our home was significantly under priced.
· When we finalized paperwork, we were left mostly alone—working with the buyer’s agent, not our own.
Here’s the kicker:
Though his commission was large enough to buy a new Mercedes, there was no follow-up after the sale.
No fruit basket.
No thank you card.
Not even a phone call.
Then the bottom fell out of the real estate market.
I knew times were tough when he started sending us poorly designed newsletters. A few weeks ago he even sent us a magnetized football schedule.
Now he’s marketing to us.
And of course, now it’s way too late.
The irony is, when the market was strong, he had the money to hire a sales assistant to help him respond to customer questions.
When the market was strong, he had the money to thank us for our business.
And when the market was strong, he could have developed a customer for life—a customer that would have referred others, even when the market went south.
Instead, he’s become a case study for crappy service.
There are a few lessons to be learned here.
If you over-promise and under-deliver, you’ll never have happy customers. Be honest and avoid marketing puffery.
Customer delight, not just customer satisfaction should be your goal. Your customers will take care of you when the market won’t.
And while not marketing in a down cycle is a bad idea (there’s less competition), failing to market in an up cycle (because you don’t think you need to) is even worse.
What’s the worst customer service experience you’ve ever had?
Comment below to weigh in.
End of Patrick’s post…
To all of you sales professionals out there – - what gives?
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