Traditionally, estate agents were thought of as a sales-only business – anyone remember when ‘always be selling’ wasn’t just a funny line in a movie? If you could sell your services – your brand - you were winning. No need for additional follow up, working in the now, and not much need for follow up during the process either because the seller and buyer had no choice but to wait for it all to be done. It just doesn’t work that way anymore. With the increase in competition and the arrival of the digital age, many agencies who focus on the ‘sales only’ mentality are struggling to stay relevant in their markets.
According to studies done in 2022, 56% of the world’s consumers say that customer service is ‘very’ important in choosing a brand (Microsoft). Even scarier: 61% of global consumers report they have cut ties with a business when they have had a bad experience (Zendesk). Today’s customers demand a better customer experience and customer service is one of the main undermining factors that makes a huge impact on how your brand not only survives but grows in 2023.
Here are the 5 ways having excellent customer service is essential to your business:
1. Customer Loyalty =£££ Starting with the most obvious of reasons customer service impacts your bottom line: Ask any large estate agency, return customers are not a myth! People are moving home more regularly in the last 3 years than they ever have before. Build customer loyalty and repeat business by continuing to nurture and provide great experiences to your past customers.
2. Attract new customers: Most people think that customer service is only creating brand loyalty for that one person but what they forget is that 81% of consumers say they trust product and service advice from friends and family (Hubspot). This is impressive considering in 2022, 55% of UK consumers say they trust brands less now than in years past (Hubspot).
You cannot beat word of mouth marketing as it costs you nothing but the time you would have already spent working with a current client. Make the experience a good one and ask for their help in spreading the word about their story with you. If it was excellent, they will be excited to tell their friends, family and neighbors about how great you were – 72% of customers who have had a positive experience share it with 6 or more people! (Zippia)
Leveraging the positive customer experiences through marketing will also increase your customer acquisition. People love seeing success stories so pop your reviews into ads, take photos (even video!) of happy customers talking about their experience and share them to your website, social media or in a journey to those hesitant-to-instruct clients.
3. Protect your brand from mistakes: In an age where you can find out just about anything, a bad customer review can quickly damage your brand’s reputation and bottom line. In 2022, it was reported that 90% of the world’s consumers read reviews before a purchase – a big jump up from 45% in 2018 (Forbes).
You can’t prevent all bad reviews or experiences, but it is important to put emphasis on the positive stories. We all know mistakes and misunderstandings happen but a website full of bad reviews puts customers off. On the other hand, the occasional bad review will have little impact on your potential customers’ perception of you if your brand is filled with positive stories and experiences. Afterall, over 80% of people will forgive a mistake when working with a business as long as the overall experience is good. (Hubspot)
Also keep in mind that the opportunity for a market appraisal appointment does not mean the client has necessarily read your reviews yet. Use this opportunity to talk about some successes that are relatable to the potential vendor or landlord – or, even better, send the information in a drip-fed journey so they can watch or read them on their own time.
4. Protect your team: A bad customer experience very often creates a bad employee experience and vice versa. In the last 2 years, customer facing jobs have become harder.
“There’s a lack of outlets for people’s anger. That waiter, that flight attendant—they become a stand-in for everything coming between what we experience and what we think we are entitled to,” Melissa Swift, Mercer transformation leader, told the New York Times.
If a customer has had a positive experience with you and a mistake or misunderstanding happens, they are more likely to be patient and kind to your team. On the reverse side, when it has been a bad or neglectful experience, they are likely to escalate with your team.
While you may be quick to say that this is your team’s job – to de-escalate clients, when need be, 74% of customer-facing employees are at risk for burn-out this coming year (Forbes), and the cost of employee turn over to your business is 100 to 150% of that employee’s salary (Oxford Economics and Unum). It is imperative to your agency to have both happy customers and employees. Invest in your team and protect them from bad experiences.
5. Increase your fees: Ooh, I said a scary thing. Yes, you can increase your fees and people will be happy to pay those fees based on the services you offer. I’ve personally seen it happen with several Lifesycle clients. Globally, 42% of consumers are willing to pay more when they receive personalized, friendly service (Zippia).
When you provide a customer experience that is not only personalized, but consistent, courteous and shows concern for the well-being of your customer, you can, in fact, increase your fees.
Great customer experiences directly impact your sales and how your community sees your brand so it is important to bring focus to this in your organization. The problem is this: Consistently providing a great customer experience with fab customer service to your current, past and potential clients can be overwhelming at best. The day-to-day tasks of running your business take up so much of your time. It is hard to make the changes necessary so your team can provide the best experience. It’s harder to arrange relevant marketing of those experiences to your community and potential clients turning it into more business.
If you are struggling with this or implementing lasting changes in your agency, why don’t you consider a solution, that combines traditional estate agency CRM and marketing in one platform?
My name is Kelly Jacobs, and I’m the Director of Customer Experience at Iceberg Digital. Which powers Lifesycle, the World’s-first, and the ONLY solution available to Estate Agents combining traditional Estate Agency CRM and Marketing software in one platform. Manage your everyday tasks as an Estate Agent while delivering ongoing communication, gathering automatic feedback, and identifying where the best opportunities for new instructions are likely to be.