There’s no way around it. Real estate agents are facing a strange and counter-intuitive housing market in today’s America and a customer base with changing attitudes. It’s a situation that makes it more important than ever before for agents to go the extra mile in delivering great service and fostering customer loyalty. Here are some ideas on what real estate professionals need to be aware of and where you need to put your focus to maximize success.
A Strange Housing Market
In the pages of Forbes, Lawrence Yun sets out the curious character of our current market. Put simply, the housing market is hot, but there has been no corresponding rise in home sales.
The American economy is in many ways the strongest it has been in some time. Unemployment is low and is actually exceeded by the total number of available jobs, and this tight job market is compelling employers to offer more competitive wages. The net worth of American households has almost doubled since the Great Recession.
The housing market is moving with incredible speed. A listed home can expect, on average, to find a buyer inside of 26 days, around half the usual average time. Yet actual sales are around the same level they were at the turn of the century. Yun’s theory, which we find convincing, is that a lack of supply must be the culprit.
It adds up to an environment with plenty of opportunity if you can assure your participation in the sales that are happening.
“Serial Switchers” and Evolving Consumer Attitudes
At the same time, customer loyalty to particular brands is reaching a particularly low ebb. Companies failing to provide competitive customer service are estimated to have lost over 75 billion dollars’ worth of business in 2017.
The real estate business has seen the effects as dramatically as any other sector, with only 12 percent of respondents to a recent National Association of Realtors survey indicating that they’d bought or sold a home with an agent they’d previously worked with.
Two big factors seem to drive this dynamic:
- Customers look for a positive emotional connection and effective service but all too often don’t get either. They may run into employee rudeness, find the company unable to answer questions or find themselves on hold for long periods of time.
- When assessing whether to switch, customers are now comparing a brand’s customer service not just to its direct competitors but to all kinds of service they’ve received.
Customers looking for satisfaction become “serial switchers,” on a constant quest for better service. The upside is that when they do get the connection and service they’re looking for, 86 percent of customers are still willing to provide repeat business.
The Art of Customer Loyalty
Here are some tips on retention and providing the best customer service experience:
- Make sure you’re covering the customer service basics. Get back to people and answer questions in a timely manner, be easy to reach and do what you say you’ll do … or better.
- Connect emotionally with your clients. Listen to their perspectives and take them seriously. If you email them, make it a personalized email. Ensure interactions end on a positive emotional note.
- Justify your commission with expertise. Many customers don’t fully understand the advantages a professional agent delivers. Don’t be shy about clarifying what information, expertise and experience you bring to the table.
- Stay in touch, and prioritize quality of interactions. Sheer quantity of interactions doesn’t boost customer loyalty, but keeping contact to provide relevant, high-quality information is a boon.