Exemplary client service is imperative when marketing luxury real estate if you are intent on gaining or sustaining market leadership. If you are interested in challenging the incumbent market leader you might want to ask some of their clients this question: Are You Being Served?
There are all levels of client service. Great service often begins right on your website where you have the opportunity to make “self-service” an enriching experience for potential clients before they are actually ready to make their first live contact with you. But, the minute a prospect calls you or walks in the door of your office you had better live up to the standard you have established on the web and exceed their expectations. Congruency and consistency is the key. Many current market leaders lack this.
Recently, Alexandra and I (Ron here) needed to open an investment brokerage account at one the major national brokerage houses to facilitate the transfer of funds. Since there was a local office close by we decided to go into the office instead of calling or setting up the account online. Whenever possible we prefer to establish new relationships in person and support our local businesses. Our experience was a disaster in client service.
Instead of being introduced to an account representative who could assist us in opening the account (and with whom we could potentially establish a long term relationship), we were guided by the junior in charge to a computer kiosk to open the account online in “self-service” mode. Shocked, that we were being introduced to a machine vs. a human being, we approached the kiosk where it was necessary to stand up while filling out the online form to open the account. In an instant they lost us as a customer. I immediately decided that the minute my funds were transferred to this brokerage firm I would transfer them elsewhere and close the account.
On the initial screen there were a number of account types and we needed advice as to which type was appropriate for our transaction. The receptionist called an account representative over to assist us. Thinking that perhaps, we had encountered an inexperienced receptionist, we expected that the account rep would invite us into his office and fill out the form for us as he asked appropriate questions. Instead, he told us the type of account we needed and guided us back to the kiosk to make the selection on the screen.
To get the idea of how physically awkward this was, try typing while standing up directly over your desktop or laptop computer that is lying flat on your desk. There is an ergonomic reason that there is a place to rest your palms while typing. After typing in our name and email address with great difficulty, the shock lifted, and outrage ensued. But, I decided to stay positive and give them the benefit of the doubt.
In an attempt to give constructive feedback, I told the account rep that had I not needed to open this particular account, I would have left on the spot, the moment the kiosk was suggested in lieu of human service. The account rep did not even acknowledge my feedback. Nor, did he apologize. Instead, he just cheerfully said “if it would be easier, you could open this account online at home”. Then, he gave me a card with the telephone number of customer service as we walked out the door.
The only consolation prize from this experience was the knowledge that this blog post that you are now reading would be written. When I got home and called customer service, I vented about my experience adding a bit of humor, knowing that the call would be “monitored or recorded”. The phone rep was dumbfounded. Getting back to the matter at hand, she graciously helped me through the form, which I could not have completed without her kind assistance. In contrast, this rep lived up to the standard of exemplary client service which highlights the imperative of congruency and consistency.
Every major investment brokerage firm has an office in our town, given the demographics here. Choices are abundant when it comes to selecting a particular firm and account representative. We hope that you get the parallel here to luxury real estate brokerage firms and agents. You would think that exemplary client service is a given, merely the price of admission into the field. But, for those of you who are intent on challenging the incumbent market leader in your area this extremely important factor of consistently outstanding client service may be the very chink in the armor of your competitor that can give you the edge.
You might assume that your competitor’s clients are being served. But, you may want to investigate this further.
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