Every business, whether it’s large or small, wants to be known for the stellar experience they provide, but it’s not as simple as just providing a great product or service. Giving people the ultimate experience requires you to look at the entire customer journey as part of your product or service, and meld them together in somewhat of a symphony.
For REALTORS®, conducting this orchestra is actually a lot easier than it sounds when you consider what it’s like from a buyer or seller’s point of view. Most people will only go through the real estate transaction process a few times in their life, and as someone who has been through it countless times, you’ll probably see the ideal transaction experience quite differently than almost all of your clients will.
Setting expectations early on with clients is absolutely critical to providing excellent service, but today let’s focus on 3 incredibly simple things you can do to create the ultimate experience for your clients, above and beyond the high level of service you already provide.
#1 – Ask
Where nearly every service experience falls apart is the lack of continuity between what a client needs and wants, and what can actually be done in reality. We’ve covered how to set expectations with clients in depth before, but the most important thing you can do for yourself and your clients, is to make sure you understand the specific differences between their wants and their needs. A need is a non-negotiable point, and if you don’t satisfy it, nothing you do will meet the client’s service expectations. A want however, is a much more flexible point where compromises can be made without impacting the perception of service.
Basically, you need to make sure you are asking lots of questions, actively listening to their answers, and clarifying when you’re not sure if something is a want or a need. Don’t be afraid to ask “is this something you need – and why?” Getting the client to discuss their preferences out loud will prompt them to really think it through and flush out their ideas. Just do yourself (and everyone) a favor and never make any assumptions, you cannot possibly anticipate where someone will be willing to make compromises.
#2 – Share
Now you don’t want to sound like a know-it-all, but as we’ve established, you’ve been through the process of buying and selling a home a few times. As the trusted professional, your clients will expect you to educate them on the known pitfalls in a transaction (here’s a great resource for more information on guiding your clients to reduce frustrations), but you can also use your experience and opinions to guide them towards the best decisions, and make suggestions where you think compromises might be necessary. Obviously, you’ll always want to take their needs into consideration first, but good advice really goes a long way with a purchase of this magnitude, potentially saving time, money, easing stress and making all their decision points more fluid.
#3 – Check
You might spend a week working with a buyer or seller, or you could spend months. In either case, lots of things can happen that affect the client’s experience in the time it takes to see a transaction through to the end. A good rule of thumb is to check in before, during and after the transaction takes place, making sure people are satisfied at each point. For more ideas about asking the right questions through the process, check out this Guide to Identifying Buyer Motivations.
Now here’s the tough part, you have to actually ask your clients directly if they are satisfied with the way things are going, and be open to the fact that you might be out of line with their expectations… but also willing to fix the situation. The good news is that by collecting this information, you now have the opportunity to remedy any service deficiency before it impacts the likelihood of that client doing business with you in the future, or of them sending you referrals.
If you can’t remedy the deficiency, or your clients expectations don’t match up with the services you provide, do the next best thing for your business by referring them to someone more fitting for them. Here’s a few tips on Firing Problem Clients you may not have in your toolkit! You can’t save them all, but by acting in a professional manner and providing them resources, you will still be able to maintain a positive experience.
It’s All in the Details
Overall there’s one thing to consider in all this, and it’s that small inconsistencies can add up to large deficiencies very quickly, so the details really do matter. When you ASK, SHARE and CHECK along the way, you gather the information you need to really understand what each individual client needs, ensuring every single person has the ultimate experience working with you.