Want to improve the customer journey, but don’t know where to start? Here, John Mackenzie, Business Development Manager at tmgroup shares his top tips on getting to grips with your client’s expectations – and making sure you’re meeting them.
Property professionals operate lean businesses due to pressure on fees
Estate agents and lawyers operate lean businesses, in terms of staffing. This is due to the pressure on fees, increased competition and lack of perceived value by the consumer. If the consumer has a frustrating experience littered with delays, they will simply begrudge paying higher fees – the vicious circle.
Unfortunately, the lower the fees coming in, the more estate agents and lawyers can struggle to invest in their businesses and provide better service – but oftentimes, it’s more resistance to change that holds these businesses back.
The most dangerous phrase is “that’s the way we’ve always done it”
I worked for a 2 branch independent estate agent for nearly 6 years and the 2 most frustrating situations I would find myself in were being told by the business owner “That’s the way we’ve always done it” and “I don’t see what the problem is, I think it’s great!”.
Why is there such a resistance to change? Firstly, a fear of being wrong and secondly a fear of it being expensive. It doesn’t have to be this way… Taking a step back from the business is key to overcoming these fears and can be quite liberating – and clear up a lot of misunderstanding about what your clients really want.
Here are some simple steps that can help you break away from “the way we’ve always done it” and better meet your customers’ expectations:
1. Gather “proper” customer feedback
Talk to your customers and gather “proper” feedback – not just a list of questions asking “how good were we?”. This should be treated as an opportunity to ask some useful questions, better understand their experience and frustrations, and to help you identify areas for improvement.
For example, did they find that closing at 5pm, or for lunch, caused them issues? Did they feel like a priority – or an after-thought? Would they use your services again? If not, why?
2. Engage your team
…And then make sure you discuss these findings with your team and do what you can to adapt your services around your customers’ expectations.
By engaging your team in development plans and projects, you will be able to make the most of their combined expertise and experience – and may very well be surprised at what they come up with!
3. Engage experts in their field
Law firms are great at dealing with the law and estate agents are great at selling property… right? Then you pay accountants to look after your finances, as that’s what they are good at.
So why not engage professional marketing services to help them better understand your customers’ expectations? Marketing is more than just media advertising and may provide a fresh perspective on your business.
4. Stay up to date with the latest products, services and developments
Not all products and services are going to be relevant, but if you do identify poor areas of service, then it’s important to understand if there is a service or product that may be able to help.
For example, if you do find that calling the office results in a number of calls not being handled, it may be worth engaging a call minding service. Likewise, considering new ways of communicating to free up the phones.
5. Be open to new ways of delivering customer service
Technology is never meant to replace customer service, but it can enhance it. For example, if 25% of consumers want to communicate via secure messaging, that’s 25% less phone calls and therefore fewer missed calls!
It won’t replace the phone, but it offers those that want to communicate in that way the option, whilst allowing estate agents and law firms to use resources and time more effectively.
Is it time you took a step back to better understand your customers’ expectations? Get in touch with John on John.Mackenzie@tmgroup.co.uk