The cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence will keep the in­dus­try rel­e­vant in the fu­ture. But to be truly suc­cess­ful in de­liv­er­ing some­one needs to own it.

Elite Agent - - CONTENTS - Leanne Howard

There's been a real shift in real es­tate to fo­cus on the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence. With all the new com­peti­tors and mod­els around, the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence in sales and prop­erty man­age­ment is how we earn our com­mis­sions in the more tra­di­tional mod­els most of us work in. So where do we start on this mis­sion to be truly cus­tomer-cen­tric? We've all heard ‘what gets mea­sured gets done'. In real es­tate, how­ever, the client ex­pe­ri­ence is gen­er­ally nei­ther mea­sured nor re­warded. In my 17 years in real es­tate, work­ing with three ma­jor brands, un­til re­cently cus­tomer ser­vice hasn't been part of any re­ward or recog­ni­tion pro­gram. Tra­di­tion­ally we have mea­sured suc­cess in terms of GCI, sales vol­ume, num­ber of prop­er­ties man­aged and so on, with lit­tle thought to how our cus­tomers were feel­ing at the end of the trans­ac­tion.

When I worked with LJ Hooker, one of the first strate­gies we took when em­bark­ing on the mis­sion to be num­ber one in cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence was im­ple­ment­ing a feed­back tool. This is gener­i­cally re­ferred to as NPS (net per­for­mance score), but NPS is a branded tool not widely used in Aus­tralia. Aside from that, RealSat­is­fied and Cus­tomer Mon­i­tor are two sys­tems I've seen work well in real es­tate.

Every buyer, seller, in­vestor and ten­ant can be sur­veyed on their ex­pe­ri­ence. The sur­veys can be used in other ways too, such as lost list­ings – un­der­stand­ing why your team mem­ber missed out on a list­ing is very use­ful, and it's also a great way to show the client that you are keen to get feed­back de­spite miss­ing out.

The feed­back was in­valu­able from day one. Not only did it pro­vide great in­sights for agents and prop­erty man­agers, but it was also in­cor­po­rated into the re­wards and recog­ni­tion pro­gram, with many awards for out­stand­ing cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence and a re­quire­ment to reach a cer­tain stan­dard in this area to be el­i­gi­ble for other awards.

There are other ways to mea­sure the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence too: re­peat busi­ness, re­fer­rals, tes­ti­mo­ni­als, so­cial me­dia com­ments, com­plaints, longevity of your land­lords, and so on. I'm a big be­liever that when you start the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence jour­ney, every per­son in the com­pany should have a KPI around it. This could in­clude both in­ter­nal cus­tomers (col­leagues) and ex­ter­nal clients.

A great cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence is many things. It's about mak­ing it easy to do busi­ness with you. It's about ‘us­ing good judge­ment, re­mov­ing ob­sta­cles and leav­ing cus­tomers bet­ter than when you found them'. In real es­tate we have the priv­i­lege of con­nect­ing with peo­ple at sig­nif­i­cant, and of­ten emo­tional, stages of life. We have more op­por­tu­nity than most to pro­vide a mean­ing­ful con­tri­bu­tion to the lives of the com­mu­nity we serve.

In the end, yes, we are all here to make a liv­ing and the num­ber of trans­ac­tions count; but what if we all saw our real es­tate ca­reers to be about serv­ing a higher pur­pose? What if col­lec­tively we were all in the busi­ness of guid­ing and fa­cil­i­tat­ing the com­mu­nity through their life changes and re­sult­ing real es­tate de­ci­sions? I'm start­ing to see more real es­tate busi­ness be­come pur­pose-driven, which is ob­vi­ously great for cus­tomers – but it also has huge ef­fects on work­place morale. I think it's part of the hu­man con­di­tion to need to feel con­nected to a pur­pose.

Out of your pur­pose should come your com­pany prom­ises. What do you guar­an­tee to pro­vide to every cus­tomer? What do you al­ways do? What do you never do? Har­courts (for ex­am­ple) pro­vide every cus­tomer with a list of prom­ises at the be­gin­ning of the re­la­tion­ship. It's a great way to set up the ex­pec­ta­tions for the client and another way of mea­sur­ing how well we are serv­ing our cus­tomers.

There are many other parts to be­com­ing a truly cus­tomer­centric busi­ness, but defin­ing your pur­pose, set­ting your prom­ises and hav­ing sys­tems in place to con­stantly mea­sure how well you are meet­ing cus­tomer ex­pec­ta­tions is a great way to start.


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