Every week, we ask a real estate professional for their Short List, a collection of tips and recommendations on an essential topic in real estate. This week, we talked with Ray Brucker, a broker with Dorsey Alston in Marietta, on delivering complete customer satisfaction to their clients.
Customer service is generally perceived as the art of ensuring that a customer or client is thoroughly satisfied/totally pleased with the product or service they receive, in exchange for certain monies they pay or other good and valuable consideration they may exchange for that product or service.
It is typically perceived as an art, because it is subject to human judgment and subjectivity, rather than a distinctly measurable event. That is especially true in the profession of selling residential real estate, because every buyer or seller is very emotionally invested in the home they are buying or selling.
However, that being noted, there are several key behaviors, in which real estate agents must engage to maximize the possibility of delivering complete customer satisfaction to their client or customer.
6. Timely responses to all communications, in a manner consistent with the clients preferences –From the initial contact, whether that might be in response to a referral, an ad or a sign call, one must understand the clients sense of urgency. If the initial contact is a text message, it is likely a younger person, to whom minutes are like hours and your response should be immediate, if not sooner. If that first contact is by email or voicemail, your response should be timely, but not urgent – but certainly no more than 12 hours. If by way of a traditional letter, a timely phone call would be appropriate. This type of timely response should continue throughout the relationship.
5. Manage your client’s expectations –Whether that requires taking extensive time studying the current market with a seller, or requiring a buyer to get pre-approved before beginning to look at property, there is no surer way of having a disappointed client that allowing them to believe that they will be able to sell their home for more than it is worth or buy more home than they can afford.
4. Respect your client and their wishes at all times – Any time anyone sells or buys a personal residence, it is a process charged with great emotions, which requires that an agent show utmost respect for the clients feelings and emotions – and that should include every member of the family. Though a seasoned agent might see a situation with total objectivity, it is their responsibility to recognize and understand their clients totally subjective point of view. Remember that the totally ugly and out of place light fixture may have belonged to a beloved grandmother.
3. Identify and respect the specific needs of your client – Generally, most non-first-time buyers, know what they want and need in their new home, so it is the agent’s responsibility to discuss these in great detail with the client, so that when price constraints necessitate eliminating one or more of them, priorities will already have been established.
2. Insure that your client truly understands what their needs are, especially if they are relocating to the Atlanta area – If there are school age children, make sure the parents thoroughly understand the immense range of educational opportunities…from truly exceptional, to not so much…and an agent must insure that schools meet or exceed clients’ expectations. Also, make sure that they understand Atlanta’s traffic problems, and ensure that their client is not shocked by their commute. Similar attention must be paid to the sports and recreational needs of the client, ensuring that they have easy access to whatever facilities or venues they desire.
1. Always make sure that clients are aware of any and all time restraints…never allow anything to slip through the cracks – The process of selling real estate involves many specific actions, all of which are time critical. A good agent will ensure that all deadlines, whether for inspections or other contingencies, are always met in a timely manner.
As one can see, providing excellent customer service in a real estate transaction is a complicated and demanding undertaking, but for anyone to have a long and successful career in real estate, it is truly essential.
Ray Brucker is a broker with Dorsey Alston in Marietta.