Maintain Long-term Customers with VOW
Part Five of a Five part series “Roadmap to using VOWs in your business.”
In this fifth of a series of five articles about Virtual Office Websites or VOW’s we are going to discuss the ways to use a VOW to work more effectively with past clients.
Many REALTORS fail to stay connected to clients they have already done transactions with. Evidence of this is borne out in NARs 2008 Homebuyer and Seller survey.
9 out of 10 consumers would use their agent in a future transaction but only 1 in 10 use the agent again for buying and only 2 use the same agent for selling! Granted, the opportunity for working with a client in a future transaction must be overcome by circumstances that the agent does not control. But staying in touch with past clients today requires different tactics. Greeting cards, newsletters and an array of other marketing mush are good touch points, but a new form of client engagement on a business level is far more compelling, and can be delivered with a Virtual Office Website.
Consumers have an expectation that their stockbroker provide them with a monthly report on the performance of their portfolio. The report is automated, but offers the customer an opportunity to connect with their broker to ask questions about buying, selling, investment strategies and the like. If the client has a concern or is interested in making changes to their portfolio allocation the stockbroker stands at the ready to serve. With a VOW, real estate agents may provide the same level of professional service. Clients will gain an understanding of the marketplace; it will build confidence in your integrity, professionalism, and encourage referrals. Think of your VOW as a relationship enabler.
Even if they are not actively planning to sell, homeowners are always intrigued by listing activity in their local market. By farming a neighborhood and using the power of a VOW you can build a relationship with that potential client – who right now is more likely to call the listing agent on the sign to get information about a listing in their neighborhood than they are to call you. With a virtual office website, you can change that cycle of behavior by automatically notifying your prospect or client through your VOW of five key factors:
- New listings in their area
- Sold listings in their area
- Market conditions in their area
- Average days on market for comparable homes
- Average price per square foot for comparable homes
Set up Monthly Alerts: By using a Virtual Office Website as a customer relationship tool, real estate agents can inform their client on a monthly or quarterly basis about economic factors that will impact one of their most valuable assets their home. Not only will your client be able to watch the market in their area, but they can converse with you about trends. This will assure your client on an ongoing basis that you are informed and vested in the local market impacting their home value.
Client CMA Tool: According to the 2008 NAR Study, the number one service clients seek from their agent is help in pricing their home. Agents have always been at the center of doing the research using the MLS data to share with their client the opinion of the value of a home. With a Virtual Office Website, the home owner is also afforded access to the same information for online viewing of a CMA. This dynamic approach to a CMA will allow you and your client together to adjust the CMA criteria and reach a realistic market picture and any alterations in asking price that may be necessary.
Market Conditions: Virtual Office Websites put more information into the hands of your client effortlessly. Your VOW will set a history of realistic expectations for your client if they become active in the market by establishing an understanding of real world trends that effect home sales. VOW websites offer key market statistics like days on market and price per square foot that will help agents set realistic expectations for their clients.
Open House Notification: Homeowners are excellent snoops. Neighbors often make up the bulk of visitors to an open house. Knowing about open houses in the neighborhood acts as an invitation for your seller to view an area home and possibly trigger an opportunity. Your VOW will typically give your client advanced notification of pending open houses and new listings in their area a highly regarded notice.
Agent in the center of the conversation
By embracing a VOW for offering this level of market information, agents remain in the center of the conversation between their clients and the real estate market much in the same way that stockbrokers and other professionals provide reports. With Virtual Office Websites, the opportunity for new forms of engagement with your customer become available that keep the servicing agent in the center of the online behavior. With VOW, these new features of consumer engagement emerge:
- Agents and clients can leave notes or remarks for each other about neighborhood listings.
- Agents can view their clients activity. If they start searching for property rather than simply viewing the reports, the agent will be aware a potential opportunity.
Leaving a Note for my Agent this is pretty straightforward. This functionality allows the agent and the client to chat about a listing, and have a record of that communication preserved for the client and agent to refer back to at any time. As new listings come on the market, the agent can share remarks for their client.
Viewing Client Activity- this is a newly emerging tool that agents find incredibly useful. It helps the agent put forth the time and energy when it is likely to produce the greatest results by seeing which client’s are using the VOW and how often.
Stay With Your Customer
The most important skill set that a broker or agent will need to focus on with their VOW ispaying attention. If you offer a VOW site to your client, make sure that you are committed to responding to them in a reasonable amount of time. Most VOW solutions notify you of activity by your customers on your site by email. It is important to check your email at least two or three times a day or more to keep up with your client activity. Doing so will allow you to build a stronger relationship with your customer.
Description of the Article Series
Subsequent articles will include how to leverage VOWs throughout the lifecycle of the relationship between agents and their clients. Future topics for the series will be:
Upon the completion of the article series, all of the articles will be compiled into a booklet titled: Broker Roadmap For Using VOW Websites