We now live in such a fast paced world with customers expecting faster response times, more information & almost immediate accessibility to a real estate agent via mobile phone, email which all creates an expectation that agents are available to respond quickly to all enquiries at almost any time of the day.
Yet with all this accessibility, the most common complaint from real estate customers is that agents don’t contact them back.
And unfortunately, the way some agents approach their online marketing & enquiry response systems only helps to exacerbate the problem.
1. Providing limited information can hurt your reputation
Many agents still believe that it’s best to provide limited information about a property over the internet & only upload the minimum information they can.
These agents will only feature a couple of photos & a brief description of the property, just enough to get the client to contact the office by phone/email or call the agent’s mobile phone.
Some agents do this either through laziness or as a marketing strategy because the agent wants to speak directly to the prospective buyer & qualify them over the phone or see if they can sell the customer into something else, etc, etc.
Unfortunately, this approach is way too time consuming & in most instances causes more damage to an agent’s reputation than good.
Often, all the buyer wants to know about the property is basic information like, the block size, the address of the property, council rates or strata levy fees, etc.
But to receive this information they often have to go through an interrogation of questions or jump through lots of hoops from the receptionist.
Once the receptionist has captured all their information the buyer becomes disappointed when they hear those all too familiar words. “I’m sorry but I can’t give you that information, you’ll have to speak with one of the salespeople.” Or “Sorry none of the salespeople are here right now, but I’ll get the first one to call you as soon as they get back into the office.”
This approach frustrates the hell out of your customers & needs to change.
2. Don’t leave the door wide open for customer complaints.
When you consider lots of the tasks that an agent has to do like: calling to follow up buyers after the weekends OFI’s, providing vendors with feedback, showing buyers through properties, following through on pending sales, negotiating offers, chasing new listings, doing market appraisals/listing presentations, dealing with negotiations with solicitors/conveyancers, market research, attending sales meetings, group inspection, attending open homes, etc, etc, is it any wonder that a buyer often doesn’t receive a call back from the agent?
But buyer’s don’t see what happens behind the scenes within a real estate agency & they really don’t care. All they think when an agent doesn’t return their call is that the agent’s obviously making too much money or the agent doesn’t want to make a sale.
To make matters worse, unfortunately, the policy within most agencies is that a salesperson can only answer a buyer’s questions. Still today there are agents who have this archaic idea that the receptionist can only take down the details of the buyers & is not allowed to answer any questions about the property.
This often leaves the customer frustrated & means that your receptionist often cops the brunt of the buyer’s anger.
Plus, the longer the buyer waits for the agent to get back to them, the more likely they are to complain about your agency to their friends or relatives & leaves your company open to online criticism as the buyer vents their frustrations about your companies poor response on sites like twitter, facebook, etc.
Whilst, I understand & appreciate why this sort of system was put in place years ago, in today’s fast paced world it’s a ridiculous system that starts a chain reaction that leads to giving most real estate agencies a bad reputation.
For instance, when the buyer doesn’t receive a call back from the agent, the receptionist will often receive another call from the buyer & ends up copping a blast from the buyer. The apologetic receptionist then gets annoyed at the salesperson & then has a go at the salesperson for not calling the customer back. So, by the time the agent calls the customer back everyone has a level of anger or dislike for each other. Does this sound familiar?
It’s not a great way to start a good customer experience, is it?
Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. What’s wrong with the receptionist saying, “Can I just grab your details & I’ll give you the information.”
Then let the receptionist give them the information the buyer wants (or at least answer some of their questions & provide as much information as they can). Then afterwards get the agent to follow them up with a phone call to see if they have any further questions about the property and/or to ensure that they received the information they were after.
That way the buyer’s not waiting for the agent to call them back & they get an unexpected, pleasant surprise when the agent follows them up later in the day or even the following day. (Now that would have to be a better start towards providing a good customer service experience, wouldn’t it?).
3. There are benefits in providing more information upfront.
Even better still, make as much information as you possibly can, freely available on the web. By providing lots more photos, virtual tours, floorplans, videos & lots more detail about the property you’ll find that the buyer enquiries won’t be based around asking basic property related questions.
By providing more information over the web, you won’t have to rely on your receptionist to give out the information & you’ll find that most of the buyer enquiries will pre-qualify themselves for the property & end up calling the office or the agent simply to book a time for an inspection.
Embracing this online marketing approach can help to avoid frustrating your customers, plus it should save your receptionist & agents a lot of time & aggravation.
Also, if you do a good job of presenting a property online, potential sellers will often like to have their home featured in a similar way and improves your chances of being called out to do an appraisal.