September 24th, 2015 7:12 PM by Gregg Mower
When we say Customer Service in today’s world what are we really talking about? Some of us older generational folks’ definition may be a little different than the millennial’s definition of customer service. I was brought up to open doors for women, talk when spoken to, and treat people as though I would want to be treated, call back people when they leave you a message as soon as you can and so on. So you can probably guess that I am over 50, but do these simple concepts change with generations or should the new generations take into consideration the old ways of serving people and should the older generations have to keep up with the new ways of communicating? My answer would be yes to both, the younger generations in order to keep top notch customer service should take into considerations the way things have been done in the past to provide the highest level of customer service. On the flip side of that the older generations have to conform to the new ways of providing top notch customer service. The older generations have to learn the new advanced communication techniques in order to provide top-notch customer service.
That said, we all should take care when providing top-notch customer service and take into consideration who our customers are and how they expect to be communicated with. In the Real Estate and Mortgage world, we are taught from day one to provide a high-level service as we know our customers have choices in who they work with. From the first contact with a new customer, it is imperative that we establish the needs of our clients. By establishing exactly what the customer is looking for it is then our responsibility to build a relationship with the customer and determine exactly how they wish to communicate with us throughout the transaction. We have to see if the customer prefers to be called on the phone, texted, emailed or all the above. We then have to learn their personality, their style of talking, their demographics, and a little of their background to not only communicate with them in a manner they expect but to be able to build a level of trust. Yes, trust is imperative when you are trying to provide a high level of service, if your clients can’t trust you there will be no way to provide any level of service that will make your client happy.
Customer service is not just simply being nice it is getting know your customer and what their needs and personality is. Communication goes far deeper than simply being nice and giving the client property to look at or loan choices. In Real Estate you have a fiduciary responsibility to your customers to act in their best interests. This is defined as acting on the behalf of your customer in a manner to which you are them. So if you do not take the time to fully know your customers you will not be providing the best fiduciary services for your customer either. Although your customer may never know, or care to know Real Estate law, it is not only an ethical responsibility it is also a law, once you have established your fiduciary relationship with your client to act on their best interests. This should be a given in any Real Estate transaction and that service level is the bare minimum, going above and beyond should be the norm.
So what is going above and beyond the norm actually mean? My opinion is simple and that is give the customer what they want and then give them more than they ever expected. Sounds easy but exactly what does that mean to a fledgling Agent or even an experienced Agent who may have forgotten that art? It all starts from the beginning, the first time you meet a customer, either on the phone or in person, or even in an email. First impressions are the most important impressions as those impressions will be the driving force throughout a transaction of how your customer views you. If your first impression is one that is rushed and you appear to be too busy to deal with them then the customer will have that mindset of you though the whole transaction and feel less important than your other clients (not good). If you give the appearance that you are very busy but you drop everything else when you are with the customer and they are your only focus when you are with them, and you treat them as though they are your only client and that they are special whenever you talk with them they will feel that they are special and will be more apt to work with you. It is these subtle things that can make a customer feel comfortable with you and want to do business with you, even if you have worked with them in the past the same rules apply. Remember, you don’t have to know everything about the Real Estate or Loan business to build a special relationship with you customers, you just have to treat them with the upmost respect for their time and their efforts, the rest will fall into place.
As a customer, you should feel like you are very important to the Agent or Loan Officer you are working with. You should feel that your Agent is representing you to the best of his or her ability and is looking after you best interests. A customer should be able to convey his or her needs to an Agent fairly quickly upon the first meeting and feel as though the Agent is going to work for them at a high level. Sometimes you are referred to an Agent by a friend or a family member and feel obligated to use that Agent as your friend or family member used that person. I say absolutely not if you are not comfortable with them at the first impression you will be continually be disappointed throughout the transaction. Sometimes your family or friends will refer you to an Agent who just assumes the sale because of the referral and the Agent doesn’t feel the need to “turn it on” for you. If you are feeling this then do you own research and find an Agent or Loan Officer who you feel comfortable with. This is a relationship business and just because your family member or friend has a relationship with a particular Agent or Loan Officer does not obligate you to use them. Everyone has a different personality so pick someone who fits yours, you can discriminate as a customer as to the type of person male or female, black, white purple or pink who you want to work with so find a person you feel will best work with you and your personality. You will be working with this person or persons for at least a month or two or maybe longer, so you need to feel good about your representation and your relationship with your Agent and your Loan Officer.
In conclusion, you should have an Agent and Loan Officer who you are comfortable with and your Agent and Loan Officer should be looking out after your best interests. From our side of the fence, and as the customer service provider, we are humans and we make mistakes and we are not perfect but the way we treat our customers should be with the upmost respect and it is up to us to “show you the service”. That’s right you should be able to stand on top of a mountain and yell “I am the customer show me the service!” It is up to us to show you the service and communicate with you however and whenever you want to be communicated with. As a Realtor and a Loan Officer and the Broker of record from my company, MAE Capital Real Estate and Loan, it is up to me to show you the service you expect, then it is up to me to take that to a whole new level, adding education, coaching, compliance, and a products that are second to none. It is one of the reasons you will find our website full of useful information that even our competing companies use as a source of information and training. I am not saying that all Real Estate and Loan transaction we do are easy, in fact, most transaction in today’ regulatory environment are slow and cumbersome, but we know that it is the industry not our service levels. We map out your transaction from the beginning so you know what to expect with regards to time lines, documentation, and disclosures so there are very little surprises. If you are another Agent that works for another Broker I hope this helps your career. If you are a Loan Officer from another company reading this I hope this helps you as well. Most importantly I hope all Real Estate and Loan Customers are treated with dignity and respect and receive the best service the industry has to offer and we do hope to have the opportunity to work with you.