Old-Fashioned Customer Service – Time to Get Back to Basics

  • While technology is an important part of any functioning business, it’s necessary to remember that dated forms of communication can make you memorable and unique.
  • Clients want to work with someone genuine, honest and authentic.

As real estate professionals, we are constantly inundated with webinars, Facebook ads and emails promoting the latest technologies designed to better our business.

As a licensed real estate instructor and educator, I strongly encourage agents to stay current with industry trends and advancements in technology, and I’m an advocate of technology designed to help with business efficiency; work smarter, not harder, as the mantra states.

While I agree that technology is essential to our success, it’s time to get back to basics.

The state of society’s social skills

Despite the countless tools we have at our disposal, there seems to be something inherently missing from our industry these days: great people skills.

We have created an entirely new language consisting of emojis and hashtags; texting and private messaging has become the expected mode of communication, and people rarely seem to actually answer phone calls.

People become oddly bold behind the safety of their keyboard, and they hide behind avatars and caricatures. We’ve all read inappropriate and disrespectful posts and comments on social media that incite anger and hurt feelings, often created by people who would not dare verbalize those same words to the recipient’s face.

Common courtesy and excellent customer service seem to be virtues of the past, and the speed with which one can post a negative review on social media, Yelp! or Google should be a new category in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Sadly, people aren’t as quick to write a positive review or give props to a fellow colleague for doing more than the expected.

Being in the people business

We may market and sell one of the biggest products available, but a listing is worthless without buyers. Without practicing proper etiquette and communication with these buyers, we fail.

Without buyers, we are simply out of business.

As a real estate professional, you must have the mindset of a small business owner. Twenty percent of small business owners fail within the first year, and 50 percent fail within the first five years; this is usually due to lack of focus, lack of passion and poor marketing.

What you really need to know is that 19 percent failed because they were out-competed, and 14 percent failed because they ignored their customers.

In an industry that currently boasts over two million professionals, the competition is strong. According to the most recent NAR member profile report, 20 percent of members had less than one year of experience in 2016; 22 percent of members with less than two years of experience earned a gross income of less than $10,000 in 2015 and 26 percent of those were under the age of 30.

In fact, gross member income in 2015 was only $39,200, regardless of age.

How to set yourself apart and promote career longevity

If you want to stay away from becoming another underwhelming statistic, I propose that you incorporate the following key ingredients into your business model:

  1. Common courtesy.While I should not have to spell out what this entails, it bears mentioning. If you are going to be late to an appointment, text or call the person waiting; if you are not going to show a listing that was scheduled, call the listing agent to cancel.

The homeowner may have had to leave with her toddler and the dog after spending two hours preparing for your tour, or maybe the sellers are an elderly couple with health issues. The point is that you must return all calls, texts and emails in a timely fashion.

If you are going to be unavailable for an extended period of time, utilize your outgoing voicemail and autoresponders to let folks know when they can expect to hear from you.

Communicate using correct grammar and punctuation, do not send texts or emails in haste or anger and — most importantly — always be kind.

 

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