They have done it again. Deb and Todd Duncan have produced another book, Five Stars: Building High Ratings and High Trust in the Digital Age, that is relevant, readable and something that real estate agents, managers, and brokers can find to be of value as they shape their business plans for the coming year.
As with their earlier work (The $6,000 Egg, reviewed here last January), the Duncans remind us again and again that the success of our business depends on the quality of relationship we build with our customers and clients. Our service must be highly competent and proficient, to be sure; but if that is all we bring to the table, we miss the opportunity to build a "five star" company or career.
Moreover, we know from other sources that many, many of us are already in a good position to proceed with such career building. Consider this fact from the National Association of REALTORS® 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers: 73% of home buyers were very satisfied and said that they would definitely use their agent in the next real estate transaction. Yet only 11% of home buyers actually do use the real estate agent with whom they had worked before! Now, there is surely some non-blameworthy explanation for some of that discrepancy, but hardly enough for all of it. The plain and simple fact is that agents and/or companies do not keep in touch with their previously satisfied customers; or, if they do, they are apparently going about it in an extremely non-productive way.
By not effectively keeping in touch, we lose out on a precious marketing opportunity. "The biggest catalyst any company or salesperson can use to accelerate their leads, referrals, and ultimately business is based on the following premise: the best sales and marketing are when someone who already knows, loves, and trusts you introduces you to someone you need to know." [Five Star, p. 82, emphasis in original] The Duncans approvingly and appropriately quote Seth Goodin, "Marketing is actually what other people are saying about you."
Five Stars is full of useful tips about the myriad ways that technology enables us both to keep in touch and to let others know of the satisfaction and trust that our clients have for us. Not only that, but also the Duncans show clearly the powerful impact that testimonials and word of mouth have in attracting new customers to a business.
The Duncans also offer cautionary tips about the almost infinite opportunities we have to misuse technology.
We misuse technology internally by succumbing to its distractive and non-productive effects. Some examples: "A Harris Poll showed that the average working professional spends about 23 percent of the day emailing, checking it an average of thirty six times per hour." "According to a CreditDonkey.com survey, employees spend an average of 7.6 hours per week on social media on the job with 70.4 percent of social media users admitting they visit the sites only for personal purposes." And, finally, "The average adult spends a total of twenty-three hours a week texting." Thankfully, the Duncans offer tips and methods for getting control of our personal technology.
We also misuse technology externally, as we seek to be everything to everybody. "According to TrackMaven, from 2013 -- 2014 content output by companies increased by 78 percent, but engagement decreased by 60 percent. Nearly half of professionally marketed blog posts receive fewer than ten interactions. One in four receive zero!"
To the Duncans' great credit, they point out that as individuals and/or firms, we are liable to have more than one generational cohort (e.g. Baby Boomers, Generation X, and/or Millenials) as a customer base. They are different and they communicate differently. We should tailor our outreach efforts. For example: For Boomers, "Do write hand-written notes and keep communication personal and respectful… Do call them on the phone…" For Millennials, " Don't call them unless it's important, and if it is, text."
Five Stars is a book written to and for a whole variety of business types. If you are selling widgets, some sections will apply to you that don't apply to real estate. And vice-versa. No one should be dissuaded by this. Read it and see what fits. It will likely be good for your business.