Whatever your role, customer service IS your job
Whether you realise it or not, everyone has at least two responsibilities at work. The first is to do the job that you were hired to do. The second is to take care of your client.
Simple yes, but not always easy.
Estate agency has never been more competitive. It doesn’t matter if you’re prospecting, instructing, selling, letting, progressing, or even completing, it’s always a race and to the winner goes the spoils.
In a market where you have to actually apply skill and nous to achieve a result, the job does not come without the service.
In fact, service is what gets the job done.
I’ve heard agents talk about the struggle is to keep a balance between delivering profit and delivering outstanding customer service. To which I say how can you have one without the other.
If you put profit above service you’ll end up with neither.
So why is customer service is so important? And why, no matter whether if you’re a manager, valuer, negotiator, admin assistant, finance officer or the office cleaner, is customer service your job?
Because your sellers, landlords, buyers and tenants are your bosses.
I can see a few readers scrunching their faces up at that sentence, muttering to themselves “buyers aren’t my boss, they don’t even pay me!”.
Get over yourself. You need to service everyone with the same level of care and advice just as you do the ones paying you. That’s just good estate agency.
Part of outstanding customer service on both sides is being a great middle man.
We work in an industry where we sit in the middle of two parties who THINK they are opposing each other (a seller and a buyer or a landlord and a tenant) but are actually working towards the same common goal, a result.
In this scenario, no one wins if two parties don’t win together; and you as an Agent certainly don’t win unless they both do.
It’s empathy, communication, setting and managing expectations (all part of great customer service) that sets these short-lived relationships up to succeed for everyone.
So how can you get everyone in your business working towards the same customer service goals?
Start by smiling more. It’s the ultimate ice breaker.
Set ground rules and stick to them. How often will you promise to contact your clients, or your buyers and tenants. Make promises and keep them.
Tell the truth. Even when it’s scary. Crucial conversations get results. Don’t avoid the pricing chat. Don’t avoid a conversation around using a better solicitor. Don’t run away from a deal that looks like it could fall through. Be up front, be professional and solve the problems as best you can.
Ask more questions. It’s okay to not know the answer but it’s never okay to not ask the question. If you hear something that you don’t understand, say something as simple as “help me understand that more” and shut up and listen to them (hopefully) clear it up for you. You can’t serve if you don’t know.
Bringing it all together...
Excellent customer service improves public perception and builds trust in your business.
Most agency owners and directors I know care passionately about the perception they receive from their market, the reputation they have when being spoken about at a dinner party or in the workplace and in their wider brand.
It says a lot about your agency, the values you stand for and you will find that the right clients will naturally want to be associated with you.
Customer service starts with you but ends with everyone involved in your business.