Our industry loves shiny objects! We’re also looking for the next goose that is going to lay golden eggs at our feet. This year the promise of greatness has been tied to technology investments. From Open Door to Compass to Keller Williams and a whole bunch in-between, brokerages are lining up to claim their rightful place as a technology company.
While these announcements have raised a few eyebrows, I’m worried that they are distracting us from the REAL secret weapon to broker profitability.
We all know that the best sales people in any industry are successful because they provide amazing service to their customers. I once heard an apt description of the role technology plays today. A consumer told me during a focus group. Technology is like a great purse to an amazing suit. It tops off the look, but it will never replace the suit itself.
While it’s not nearly as sexy as AI or Virtual Reality, plain old-fashioned service is STILL the best way to build a strong relationship with home buyers and sellers. Satisfied consumers rave about their agents! They tell their friends and family and help to create referrals that can feed the agent’s family for decades.
Sadly, however, our industry has not embraced methods for measuring customer satisfaction as much as it can. While real estate is just as much of a service-oriented business as the hospitality industry, there are only a few progressive brokers like Keyes Realty in Florida, for example that have fully embraced strong customer service principles.
While the leaders of the hotel industry publish books like The New Gold Standard of Service, highlighting the service principles of Ritz-Carlton, we have experienced several failed attempts at rolling out meaty customer satisfaction improvement plans in real estate. In the meantime progressive organizations like Harry Norman, Keyes Realty, arguably two of the most progressive independent brokerages in America and 33 others have embraced customer service excellence. For their hard work and commitment to customer satisfaction they have been awarded the Qe Awards from Quality Service Certified. Interestingly, few franchises other than Real Living and a few RE/Max, one HomeServices Company and one ERA company of the have been awarded this prestigious honor.
QSC has been helping brokerages deliver amazing customer service since 1998. They were the pioneers of customer service training, monitoring and remediation for real estate. In essence they are the J.D. Powers of real estate. I’m not sure why we are not seeing brands adopt a requirement for consumer satisfaction monitoring from companies like QSC. Founded by A Coldwell-Banker executive, Larry Romito founded the company because he was frustrated by his lack of ability to monitor the client interactions of his agents.
Industry disruptors like Redfin have built their breakthrough business model around agent ratings and Zillow has thousands of ratings on their site. Brokerages love to complain about Zillow, and yet most refuse to be transparent about the service they deliver. They are not brave enough to lift up the curtain and see what their agents are REALLY doing every day.
While customer service is not nearly as sexy as technology, it WORKS! Companies committed to customer service are experiencing upwards of 40% increases in customer service quality and satisfaction over industry norms. The focus on customer need and responsiveness have enjoyed significant increases in sellers and buyer referrals. Bottomline, exemplary customer service leads to MORE business over a longer period of time! Seems pretty logical right?
Then why do we continue to focus more on technology and not make service the priority that it needs to be? It’s the fundamental driver of success.
Time to return our focus to what REALLY matters!