mlsclawlogoI was inspired to write a post today after being placed on hold for what seemed like FOREVER with my bank.  Why is it that “modern” customer service standards call for requiring customers to go through a series of qualifying steps and button pushes before even being able to wait in line to get our questions answered or our problems solved?

Once I reached the bank, I was then transferred to yet another queue and placed on hold again!   All in all my experience with them lasted for over 2 hours!  What a nightmare.

While generally I have a good relationship with my financial institution, the endless hold times I experience drained a lot of the goodwill they have created with me over the years.

Many of the largest and most successful MLS organizations in real estate also follow commonly accepted customer service/help desk protocols.  When their customer calls them, they ask what they are calling about and then transfer them to the appropriate person or department via an automated system.  Some of these calls are answered by a live person, but only after several minutes of hold time first.

There is one MLS that has a different approach and it is really paying off for them. They believe a human connection with their customers will do more for customer loyalty than anything else. That MLS is MLS/CLAW in the Beverly Hills/Malibu, California area.

They have a very different philosophy.  Instead of forcing their customers into a phone queue – they do a miraculous thing – they pick up the phone! They cordially answer your question or qualify the type of question you have and transfer you quickly to the appropriate person.  Better yet, the person they transfer to usually picks up the phone as well!

While others have eliminated their front desk staff, MLS/CLAW actually has three people picking up the phone.  When you call there you get a live person. They sometimes pick up so quickly, you might even think it’s actually an automated system!  And it doesn’t stop there.

If the first three employees on the “front line” are busy, the lines transfer to others in the office who also pick up the phone with the same cordial and friendly tone. This front line group is also backed up by a help desk staff of 8 on call to answer technology questions quickly so that agents can get back to what they do best – selling real estate.

All of this great support and service has not gone unappreciated by their customers. MLS/CLAW’s customer satisfaction ratings are off the charts.  Customers actually do RAVE about them.  Better yet, they are actually gaining customers from neighboring MLSs helping to offset the overall membership losses facing the industry today.

The competition for MLS customers is heating up.  MLS of choice and data sharing has made it much easier for agents and brokers to switch their loyalties.  It isn’t enough anymore simply to take calls during business hours only through the help desk. The entire organization has to own the concept of customer service. Every person needs to be trained to step in and help a customer at a moment’s notice.   Every employee needs to be excited about solving a problem or challenge quickly so that their customers can get back to their job of support their real estate consumers.

A positive MLS experience will not only help your customers feel better about paying their fees, it may also inspire them to provide a better experience to their customers.  That makes for a win/win for everybody.

So the next time you think about how to create raving fans in your organization, try one simple step – pick up the phone and see what happens!