Think Customer Service For 2016
Happy 2016! As the New Year begins, for many it is the time for resolutions, plans, budgets, and strategies for making 2016 a successful business year. (For some, last month was the time for that; but let's not quibble.) If you are in the business-planning mode, please allow me to suggest that you devote a significant portion of that planning to the topic of customer service. Moreover -- thanks to a Christmas gift from real estate educator, Duane Gomer -- I have a delightful little book to recommend to you. It is The $6,000 Egg, written by Deb Duncan and Todd Duncan. (Published by Simple Truths, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. and, of course, available on Amazon.)
The subtitle of The $6,000 Egg is "The 10 New Golden Rules of Customer Service." This book is something that anybody who is in a service business could benefit from reading. And, if you don't think real estate is a service business, you might want to rethink your career path.
To be sure, many of the stories and examples in The $6,000 Egg come from retail, restaurant, or hospitality businesses, but the principles that are elucidated transcend the business of the particular stories.
For example, the story illustrating Golden Rule #5 ("Use Over-the-Top Communication to WOW the Customer") is taken from an experience of great service at a hotel. The service involved, among other things, communication between the hotel restaurant and the hotel valet service. The corollary "teaching moment" was this: "When there are multiple departments in an organization, how they communicate with one another can create a moment of magic for the customer. What can you do to make every handoff flawless and super memorable?" To a real estate salesperson, it really shouldn't matter whether escrow, title, mortgage financing, etc. are company affiliates or not. The point is that an agent should be doing all that he or she can to ensure that the client's experience with those entities ("departments", if you will) are positive, attentive, and geared to the client's personal situation. They should be part of a seamless effort to make a great experience for the customer.
It is my observation that real estate training tends to focus heavily on how to get customers or clients, but not so much on how to treat them. Perusing the Duncans' book will help to provide an antidote to that gap.
Even less does real estate training focus on how to treat one's clients after a sale has concluded. There are, to be sure, various follow-up programs provided by third parties, some of which offer excellent products. But, too often these may lack the personal touch that reinforces the customer's remembrance of you, not just your role. The Duncans say "Communicate consistently in very special ways, and your clients will love you and buy from you forever." They are right.
Finally, we note an emphasis on saying "thank you." Golden Rule #10 is "Make Saying Thank-You a Big-Time Event." The Duncans write, "The two most powerful words of influence in the service world are thank you. Too many businesses don't make the thank-you a big enough deal."
Thank-you gifts are nice, of course. But go out of your way to be original, personal, and sincere. Their "teaching moment" for this section is "What are the most impressive and indelible ways in which you can say thank you?" We would all benefit from any examples that readers might want to send to the comment section.
The Duncans write, "The most effective and inexpensive advertising is a happy customer who tells the world about you, your product, and your company." They are right again. Read The $6,000 Egg. Make a happy customer. Have a great year!