It isn’t easy getting customers in the first place. Let’s just be honest. Prospecting daily for leads, running Craigslist ads, talking to strangers, going to weird houses isn’t easy.
What’s worse however, is losing a good customer. It takes months to develop a good relationship with a great customer, and only moments to lose them.
Recent studies have shown that over 80% of the respondents to surveys as to why they left their current salesperson or company is because of poor customer service.
It’s just as true in Investing in Real Estate as it is in telephone or cable service. Have an awful relationship with your customers, and you will have a short career. Learn this powerful skill, and you will have an edge on your competition!
Customer Service… what it is, and what it isn’t.
Many times, people think that in the real estate business (Realtors® in particular) feel that their obligation is to get the Seller the best price on the home. That is simply incorrect. A Realtors® job is to represent their client to the best of their ability to affect a sale.
You could have the greatest customer service on the planet. However, if you are a Realtor® who cannot sell a home, then you too would have a “short life span.” How is it any different for the Wholesaling Investor? While you are magical at sending your direct mail campaign in a timely manner, what good does it do if you cannot get them to sign a contract at a price that makes sense?
Therefore, customer service at it’s core is about skills. Plain and simple. Can you “do the job” that needs to be done?
Customer Service Marketing
As I mentioned in my previous book Sales Skills for Real Estate Investors, there are three types of previous customers and clients. I categorize them in “A’, “B”, as well as “C” to describe their ability of knowing, liking, and trusting you.
To effectively market to your customers, you must realize the concerns that they have. Gone are the days of rapid fire, high pressure techniques to bully, threaten, or intimidate customers into signing contracts. Customers today have choices, and even the poorest amongst us can generally find Internet connection somewhere.
Therefore, I advocate a more holistic, universal approach to Customer Service Marketing. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of customer service marketing, it is generally an accepted set of ideas that if you treat your past clients, as well as your centers of influence with an exceptional level of customer service; that will help provide additional deals to your business.
While this concept is not new in the annals of “Real Estate-dom”, as various gurus and training systems have sprung up promoting this concept (namely “By Referral Only” by Joe Stumpf and others) it does have some merits but is incomplete.
The Customer is Always Right… Most of the time.
One of the things that will drive you batty in this business is trying to please everyone all the time. Heck, trying to please half the people half the time is hard enough!
In order to help ensure that your customer is proper service, make it a point to contact them at least once a week during the time you have them under contract to let them know the progress of everything.
Trust me when I tell you. Most of the trouble you will have with a customer is over miscommunication. You cannot go wrong by contacting them often to let them know of various things during the escrow period. I’ve found that once a week generally on a Friday is best. Friday is best because there is nothing worse than going through the weekend with a burning question about your home.
An additional benefit of being pro-active when it comes to communicating with the Seller is that it allows you to draw out any objections, or problems as they are coming up; thereby allowing you to head them off early in the process. If there is anything I have noticed in my Coaching with Investors from across the country with troubled deals is the lack to set the deal up properly in advance. Many times, this could have been easily avoided through effective communication.
Post Closing Customer Service
One of the keys to a great business is the amount of repeat and referral business it gets. Repeat business is good in the sense that people trust you to do a certain job, again and again. In the realm of wholesaling real estate (aka Assignment of Contract); repeat business is typically found in repeat Buyers.
Referral business however, is something entirely different. A past customer felt highly enough of you to share your contact information with a friend. That is something that requires a different approach! For the referral customer, it’s not a “sure thing” that you have the business as they still may have other choices. So plan accordingly!
Stay “Top Of Mind”
It is crucial to keep your business in the “top of consciousness’ of your customer in order to maximize the amount of referrals you can obtain in this 21st century world! But how?
There are several items that you can do to provide excellent customer service for your customers after the transaction is complete. Through use of a good, and inexpensive Customer Retention Manager like Zoho or Podio, you can ensure that you are able to retain not only physical mailing, phone, email, but also increasingly important data like social media.
Using these systems, you can create campaigns, (social media, mailing, or otherwise) to effectively followup with your customers. Never again will you lose another lead, customer, or client because you “lost their number”. In the world of cloud technology, there is very little chance for you to lose it!
In the “olden days..” prior to the instant communication styles and habits of a 21st century world, I would tell you to contact your A, B and C list of clients not less than once a quarter. However, I would be leaving out a very simple way to reach your customers in addition to the phone!
Social Media Does NOT Replace Phone Skills
Like it or not, at some point.. you are going to have to talk to people. Might as well get used to it. The good news is, Social media can help lower the barrier between you and your audience.
Think of your Centers of Influence and Past clients as your audience. What do they desperately need? What is the one thing that you, your customers, and all parties in a real estate transaction would kill to get more of?
Clear, useable real estate information.
People pay BIG TIME for that. Don’t believe me? Ask Zillow. They have built an enormous business off selling information. Quite frankly, I personally believe that you could provide better information with your local real time experience.
Think about it. You could create a presence (even a simple one) online on Facebook and find yourself writing about the things that value your community. The information you give your customers via phone call 3-4 times per year or 3-4 times per year PLUS something in writing could be just what your business needs.
Google Plus is almost a requirement for you to have a online presence in the world today. It’s simple to create, and easy to post articles to your account much like Facebook. The added benefit to a Google Plus account is that it will aid in the placement of your articles, as well as other internet searches related to Google.
In the final analysis, great customer service revolves around clear expectations of mutual goals, constant and clear communication, along with provision of reliable information for your customers so that they can make decisions based on what meets their needs and objectives.
When you are able to meet your customers needs in that before they have asked for it, then you have truly served your customer!