Monday, August 31, 2009

What is getting in the way of “wowing” your customers?

I spend a lot of time talking to businesses about the experience their clients have when they choose to interact with them. And if I had a dollar for every time I hear that our service is a key point of difference I wouldn’t have to train anymore.
When asked to describe how the service is a key point of difference would it surprise you to know that overall the experience isn’t really that different to any other agency.

Look at your market place, how many agents are you competing with? Looking into our industry from the outside in all agents look the same and client loyalty is up for grabs. So if your business has put no time or effort into mapping out your service delivery or the experience you want create chances are that most of your clients are simply satisfied and given a better option will take their business elsewhere.
Somewhere along the way we have lost the art of “wowing” our clients, or creating memorable experiences. Here are some reasons why:

Time is an expensive commodity especially in property management. We can make ourselves very busy by during the day doing “stuff” like arrears, maintenance, inspections, rent reviews etc. But each on e of these requires some level of client interaction and often we are so focused on getting onto the next call or email that we forget about creating a memorable experience. Time management skills are critical but more so than that is the understanding that each interaction is unique even if the issue or question is the same as the last 4 callers. Your team must not just be focused on ensuring that calls are returned, emails responded to and issues dealt with in a timely manner but that the interactions are one of quality. You do not want to sound like or be thought of in the same way as the call centre caller – bland and irritating

Systems and processes in our industry have not really changed that much over the years. I want you to think about flying from Melbourne to Sydney. The routes that the planes take have probably been the same since they started flying however depending on what airline you fly the experience will be different.
It is the same for real estate. The service we provide is to rent, buy or sell homes, the processes involved in ensuring that these transactions are completed successfully are the same however the experience we create is what sets us apart from our competitors.

When was the last time you sat down and audited your processes from your clients prospective? At every touch point is the level of service provided convenient for you or your client? Is the experience one that you would talk about or is it the same as everyone else?

Ironically the most common excuse I get is lack of “time” to deliver high end service. What I would like you to consider however is the amount of time you will have available if your competitor starts to deliver a service is that unique and memorable in your market place.

Lack of man power, technology, training and dollar investment is often the reason why service delivery is poor. How many businesses have found out how your clients want to be communicated with? Or do you make the decision for them? What is it that they want to know from you? Newsletters were the popular trend years ago and yet many offices still see this as a point of difference and a key method of communication? Really? Are you so sure about this? Who have you asked and are you providing them with the type of information they want? How many of your clients actually read your newsletters anyway or do they end up in the junk mail or rubbish bin?

Are you using all the available technology to your best advantage? Again it continues to surprise me as to how many large brands in the market place seem to have their head in the sand around available resources and have no one line or social media strategy which by the way is free.

Often a business may have an idea of what their clients want however they are unable to deliver due to lack of experience, training and knowledge. And a good example of this is social media. Many businesses I talk to will often say to me I am not sure how to use this technology or I don’t have the man power to commit to it. Unfortunately your clients are not going to see it that way, if you are not playing in the same space as your current or potential clients are then you are not likely to meet them or build relationships. You need to build these strategies into your business and marketing plans.

So a number of things can get in the way however it is important to keep in mind that we are a people business. Sit down with your teams and work out what level of service you want to provide your clients, how you are going to make each interaction memorable, how does it fit into your businesses structure and budget and most importantly how are you going to take advantage of all the tools that are available in today’s market to wow your clients and create your point of difference.

Take a walk on the W.O.W side – What is needed, On time, With value