Modern technology has benefited real estate agents and escrow officers alike in many significant ways. Between email, social media, a variety of helpful apps and other innovations, there’s a lot technology can do to promote their services around-the-clock and throughout all of the areas they strive to represent.
Social media and other tools also benefit clients, of course. Now they have the ability to connect with others looking to buy or sell, comparison-shop and gather information on available real estate at the click of a mouse – all without the assistance (at least at the outset) of agents or escrow officers, if they so choose.
But as we’re slowly beginning to discover, the same ground-breaking technology can act as a barrier to quality customer service. For example, many thriving real estate firms and escrow companies use automated phone systems to handle inquiries and related client calls—but how often do these systems alienate prospective clients and leave them unhappy with the service they’re paying for?
It’s important to remember that any technological innovation that improves life for real estate firms and escrow companies isn’t necessarily something clients appreciate as well. Above all else, clients still want to know at every turn, “What’s in it for me?”
If they encounter a malfunctioning business website or perceive that their agent is more concerned with gaining Twitter followers than seeing a real estate transaction through to its conclusion, they’re more likely to reach out elsewhere for their real estate needs (whether buying or selling a house) the next time around.
If you suspect that too much of your time is being taken up at your laptop or smartphone—at the expense of providing that all-important human touch clients still crave—here are some suggested ways to reconnect with the people who rely on you to buy or sell their homes.
Be the source of reliable information. Your clients rely on you to walk them through each step of the buying or selling process, so it’s always better to err on the side of providing more information rather than less (they’ll let you know if and when they’ve had enough!). This dependence on reliable information becomes even more critical in the latter stages of the process, when the time nears to close escrow and property is about to change ownership.
This is also the time when more questions arise about paperwork, filing deadlines, taxes, etc., so being available and ready to answer questions makes you a valuable resource to them. Remember—you’re the expert. Whether it’s during the early stages of putting a house up for sale or helping them close escrow, they want you to use your extensive knowledge on their behalf.
Promptly respond to calls and inquiries. It’s impossible of course to take every phone call personally or reply to every email the minute it’s sent. Customers understand this. What they don’t understand are delayed responses to their questions and inquiries—in most cases, anything longer than 24 hours—and this more than anything can sour an otherwise healthy relationship. Get back to people as soon as possible. If you can’t address their concern immediately, tell them you’ll respond soon with the information they need.
Keep your promises. This one’s simple. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. This is what being a professional is all about.
Listen closely. Your clients may not always know what it is they want. They depend on you to listen to what they tell you and to use your knowledge of the industry to address those inarticulate concerns. This means paying close attention during phone calls or in-person conversations, so you’re better equipped to guide customers toward their desired goals.
Embracing innovations in technology is as important as ever—and fortunately for us, there are new tools and resources being developed all the time—but nothing will ever replace the human touch. Clients hire you for your knowledge, skills, experience and ability to provide quality service at every stage of the process. Don’t let them down.