While customer service is more typically associated with the retail and hospitality industries, it’s a vital tool in the successful real estate professional’s arsenal.
Without the ability to quickly develop rapport with potential vendors, agents will struggle to win listings. As such, these first interactions are crucial, and in order to succeed, agents need to have superb interpersonal and customer service skills.
Even once you’ve secured the listing, it’s vital to maintain that positive relationship. Mutual trust will make life much easier if you need to suggest a lower price, or building renovations and maintenance.
Once the home is sold, however, the agent’s job is effectively done, so many may think that this is where the agent-vendor relationship can come to end.
A 2015 study by CoreLogic titled ‘Perceptions of real estate agents’, however, suggests that may not be the case. The report says customer service after the sale may be just as important as it is before the home is sold. One of the six behavioural imperatives that increase customer satisfaction, according to the study’s findings, is to ‘improve customer service after the sale’.
“The relationship is not over until the new buyer has moved into the home,” the report says.
This post-sale service is vital for helping to generate repeat and referral business, as well as a positive reputation in your local area of operation.
Chris Sharvell, Principal at Realsales Real Estate Aspley, says post-sale customer service is one of the more difficult aspects of real estate – but he tries to ensure his past clients always know he’s on hand for assistance should they need it.
“I’ve always tried a more professional contact with clients,” he says.
“Touching base once or twice a year so they know I’m there for them.”
Sharvell says it can be a real balancing act, with some agencies going too far, while others tend to cut off all communication with past clients.
“Some brands send out so much that it’s like stalking, including sending birthday wishes to all the family and the pets,” he says.
“I believe this probably borders on breaching the ACL, and it’s too personal.”
The same CoreLogic report found that vendors highly valued any agents who were empathetic, recognised the stressfulness of selling their home, and offered gift vouchers or other thoughtful touches.
When overlaid with the findings that just 36 per cent of vendors expected to stay in touch with their agents, or planned to use them again, it suggests that not nearly enough agents maintain contact or go the extra mile post-sale.
Source: CoreLogic, ‘Perceptions of Real Estate Agents’, 2015
When considering the fact that 31 per cent of vendors would not recommend their agents to friends or family, it becomes clear that post-sale service and a nice touch like a small moving gift can set you apart from other agents and agencies.
With only 36 per cent of vendors wanting to work with the same agent again, that leaves a staggering 64 per cent of vendors looking for new agents each time they sell – and better after sale customer service could be the key to getting them on your side when building a reliable clientele.
Referrals also shouldn’t be understated. The 68 per cent of vendors recommending their agents to friends and families represents a significant number of potential clients, and if post-sale service is enough to make the difference and earn you a recommendation, you owe it to your sales figures to put in the extra effort.