Customer Experience vs. Customer Service in Real Estate

by Enrique (Henry) Saldana (Nov./Dec. 2012)

Being in the Real Estate business for over 24 years, the following article really caught our attention. It certainly portrays what we believe to be our company's business core and policies. We have done a few modifications and adaptations to our real estate business market and certainly hope you may find it as interesting as we have.

The New Competitive Battleground

A foundational discovery is that great customer service is no longer enough. Why not? Because consumers today generally expect great customer service, thus providing great service is no longer competitive. We must provide great service just to stay in business. It's expected. As quoted by Colin Shaw and John Ivens in the book Building Great Customer Experiences, "71% of senior business leaders believe customer experience is the new competitive battleground."

The Difference Between Experience and Service

Consumer expectations have shifted and what was once noticeable and differentiating is now expected. What consumers NOW value is a full "Customer Experience." We have evolved from valuing good customer service to now desiring, and paying a premium for, an exceptional customer experience. And it's not just a matter of semantics.

Customer Service is the personal service we offer—our one-on-one contact with the customer. Customer Experience, on the other hand, includes EVERY single touch point the customer has with your brand. The Customer Experience is the sum total of all interactions that a customer has with a brand across all channels. That means that the customer experience you provide includes your customer's experience with your website, how quickly you respond to their inquiries and questions, how you answer your phone, how your employees, team members and/or vendors respond and are able to offer solutions, as well as how they emotionally connect to you on all channels including Facebook, Twitter and other multimedia or social media you manage. In other words, the full customer experience is how you make them feel every step of the way when connecting to your brand.

Customer Experience - Five Core Principles:

Principle 1 | Experience Culture

You must provide a culture where employees thrive by virtue of providing a Customer experience to every customer.

Your company's core philosophy should be about providing an exceptional customer experience. Being in the business of selling real estate, for example, you do not say your core service is "selling real estate." You should claim that you offer the home buying or selling consumer a 5-star experience. And, your company culture would be all about providing a full experience, not just the service of helping the home buyer buy successfully or the home seller sell successfully. This Experience "Culture" is felt by the consumer and it is this Culture that attracts consumers.

Principle 2 | Not All People, the Right People

You must be very selective with whom you hire and whom you work with.

Team members and Employees must have the same core values, culture and the ability and commitment to provide a high standard of customer experience.

Sadly, this dedication to hiring only the right people does not extend to real estate. The biggest problem with the real estate industry is that we hire anybody. It used to be that the traditional real estate brokerage was one in which the local broker knew the land and cared for the community. Instead, today, our industry has morphed into a bunch of "recruiting companies" where a real estate brokerage is really just a real estate agent recruiting firm with very low hiring standards, if any standards at all.

If you wish to be a 5-star customer experience company, you have to get back to our roots and get back into the real estate brokerage business practicing first for care of the consumer and communities, and then hire the right people (agents and staff) who can offer the experience that the home buyer and seller consumer deserves. This requires an enormous shift for our industry as brokers would have to be willing to give up gross commission income from those we all know shouldn't be in the business as they are a detriment to our industry reputation and, more importantly, they are dangerous and costly to the consumer.

So, by definition, don't hire all people, only the right people; those who match our culture and 5-star customer philosophy.

Beyond making sure that your new agents are highly trained and knowledgeable for the consumer, your program should be a testing ground to validate that they have what it takes to work and serve your customers to the highest standards.

Principle 3 | Love Your People

Treat all customers exceptionally—employees are customers too.

Have a "two-customer" philosophy. This means consider your employees as customers, as well as the consumer. If you take care of your employees, your customer will be taken care of.

This two-customer philosophy should be an integral component of company brand. So as to always be clear about who our customers are, follow the following principle:

BOTH the Agent (and staff) and the Consumer are the customer of the company. AND, the Consumer and the Company BOTH are customers of the Agent (and staff). We are all customers of one another and treat each other as such.

Principle 4 | Customers Have a (Loud) Voice

Quarry customer feedback—uncover customer pain.

It’s no secret: social media have enabled consumers to have a voice and to share their opinions and experiences publicly. This is great for consumers, but for businesses, it can be problematic for obvious reasons. And though it is impossible to be perfect every time—mess-ups do occasionally happen—what is important is to Listen to our customers and Act on what they say. You can't keep everyone happy but, if you are able to listen to what your customers have to say and respond quickly, you will be able to neutralize any negative feedback and many times turn it the other way around.

This means you must Listen … and have procedures and protocol for doing so. Have alerts set for different key words that enable you to monitor who is mentioning you and what they are saying. In addition, ask previous customers about their Customer Experience with your company. Work to rectify the situation with the customer and change your operations to ensure that the same mistake or breakdown doesn't happen again.

Principle 5 | Beginning to End

A Customer Experience: The Integration of your company brand name, webpage, Facebook, Twitter, and other social and multi-media services you provide.

This is where it all comes together. A Customer Experience is in every location that the consumer intersects with your brand, from the very beginning through to the very end. Look at every touch point and work to produce consistency across all channels and an exceptional customer experience with each and every interaction.

Exceed Customer's Expectations

Your customers deserve a 5-star experience. So move from highly satisfying your customers' processes, to delighting them with your processes. Don't expect this to be an easy feat. It means only excellence will be demanded from everyone every day. A 5-star mindset means disdain for anything mediocre and common in the real estate industry.

Conclusion

With the overload of information, the fast pace of life and the exposure to boundless products and services, personalized service and full customer experience is a more powerful value proposition and differentiator than ever before. Customer Experience will become the powerful weapon in your competitive arsenal because it is so important to today's consumer and because it is so difficult to consistently deliver. 24/7 lifestyles require 24/7 service, beginning to end. And, for those of us who live or die by referrals, 4-star "exceeding expectations" won't cause the customer loyalty we depend on. Only through a new 5-star standard where the customer feels amazed, delighted and uncommonly cared for, will they become our raving fan. 

Mexico Realty Solutions

Real Estate and Mortgage Broker

Enrique (Henry) Saldana
Cel: (984) 111-8743  Tel: (984) 147-1305



Henry Saldana Photo


Buy Playa Real Estate Advisors



Akumal Villas