Do you worry about how contacts and clients experience your firm?
The last ten years have seen a revolution in the customer experience. Led by companies in the retail, consumer products and entertainment industries, marketers and client services professionals have come to understand one of the fundamental lessons of online business: the power structure has shifted.
Consumers feel empowered. They expect to be heard. They expect to be remembered. They come to you with intent, having done their research before you ever meet them. They have no patience with offers that don’t reflect insight into their needs. They expect your online presence to be as conversational and social as Facebook or Pinterest (and if yours is the only voice in the conversation, they’re gone; they expect you to provide a place where they can interact with others just like them). They expect you to be open 24x7. They expect transactions with zero friction and zero effort.
You’ve heard all of this before, I’m sure, but have you considered how it applies to the real estate industry?
Hey, wait a second, you say. You obviously don’t get my business. The market has always measured us by the quality of our client experience.
True enough. But remember, consumers – including homebuyers and sellers and tenants and landlords and developers and investors – make decisions differently than they used to. By the time you get a chance to demonstrate your personal and professional skills they’ve already made up their minds. They’ve been on your website, seen what you have to say on Facebook, read reviews of you in an online real estate forum, and they’ve already created a short list of firms that interest them.
So, what are the components of your 21st century client experience?
You need content on your website. No surprises here. Your website needs to be more than marketing, and more than a list of properties. You need content that engages your visitors, informs them, and convinces them of your value. It doesn’t have to be content that you’ve written, at least not all of it. But it needs to be useful, timely and consistent with the impressions left by the rest of your website.
You need conversation on your website. Your website is your primary marketing asset. And today that means it needs to be interactive. You need places on your site where conversation can take place between you and your visitors. It can be a blog. It can be a comments section below educational content you’ve posted. You also need places where your visitors can talk among themselves. They need to be able to talk about you, about their questions and concerns, really about anything that comes up. Forums work here. Reviews work. Yeah, it’s scary. But it’s important to a great client experience.
You need to establish a social media brand. Obviously you own your website. But your client experience has to extend beyond your own online presence. You need to go to online destinations where people in your market are talking about real estate. You have to spend time at those destinations. You have to listen. You have to contribute. You need to demonstrate your unique qualifications. Most importantly you need to avoid the temptation to go there just to promote yourself and your firm.
Your technology choices need to be about more than productivity and efficiency. Too often, it seems to me, technology vendors act like the only thing that matters to you is getting more done for less. Productivity and efficiency are important, of course, but they don’t automatically make you better able to meet your clients’ and contacts’ expectations. Here are some things technology can do to transform the experience you offer your clients:
- Make clients feel valued by creating an institutional memory of every contact and client. Make it available to every employee at your firm. Ensure that everyone in both your front and back office roles has the same comprehensive view each client and your history with them. And make sure your employees use it. Your clients will feel valued, and you’ll never again waste their time by asking for data or information they’ve already furnished.
- Demonstrate your value by giving yourself the ability to understand and preserve what clients want. Use this insight to provide tailored offers. Put yourself in a position, for example, to automatically identify every client that is likely to be interested in a new property. And be prepared to generate an exhaustive list of properties that meet a given client’s requirements. You’ll never again waste their time with listings or offers that don’t meet their criteria.
- Transactions aren’t always pending, and when they aren’t you can still make yourself a valued resource. Acquire technology that lets you segment your universe of contacts and clients and, having created those segments, provide them each with content, services and offers that are relevant. Stop sending same marketing email to everyone. Communicate with each segment in ways that are respectively meaningful and valuable.
- And while it might sound trivial, invest in technology that ensures that no one on your team is ever late for a meeting, forgets an appointment, goes to the wrong address, shows up with no idea of who they’re meeting with, or forgets a personal detail.
The reward for this kind of client experience should be obvious. Without it, today’s contacts never become clients. But meet clients’ experience expectations and you win their loyalty and their enthusiasm. You win their repeat business, and their priceless word of mouth.
By: Don Roedner
Sr. Director of Marketing, Think Tech Labs
Email Don: firstname.lastname@example.org
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