Is your real estate agency hot, or not?

Someone once said that customer service is not a department, it’s everyone’s job.  Unfortunately good customer service tends to be hard to find.

According to a recent survey conducted by American Express; more than 60% of US respondents stated that customer service was important but, only one third believed they actually get it.

When Leapfrog Property Group launched five years ago the group designed an independent measurement system called “Hot or Not” – as in you’ve either made the cut or, you haven’t. “Professionalism, ethics and integrity are the most overused words in our industry”, says Bruce Swain, MD of Leapfrog. “We developed this program in order to ensure that our clients truly do get professional, ethical service regardless of which franchise office or agent they deal with.”

The program consists of various tenets such as customer feedback, ghost calls, office compliance and a physical office review amongst others. Customer feedback is forwarded to the office principals monthly, in order for them to share with their agents and take action where necessary.  Franchises are evaluated on a 12 monthly basis after which they are scored on everything from their client satisfaction rating to their office location, facilities and telephone manners. Offices who achieve a score of 90% or above are granted the now coveted “Hot” award.
Swain relates, “as far as I’m aware Leapfrog is the only property agency that provides this service nationally and I am proud to say that it’s become part and parcel of our corporate culture.”

That being said, an agent’s commission is paid only when a sale has been concluded. As such real estate agents have to ensure client satisfaction as a matter of course – in their case the client really does pay their wages.

The impetus to provide good service is further enhanced by the nature of the property game; at present the property buy-in cycle (the rate at which people buy and sell properties) stands at 5 to 6 years. Hence the real estate industry relies heavily on client satisfaction, not only for referrals, but also in the hope of retaining their client in the event that they buy property again years down the line. With the increased use of the internet and sites like Hello Peter – ensuring that service standards are impeccable is of the utmost importance.

Another key factor for agents to bear in mind is that they are the glue that keeps a deal together – a seller depends on them for advice regarding the price of their properties, obtaining clearance certificates, liaising with the buyer – the list goes on. Buying or selling a property is one of the biggest decisions people make and they’re not likely to forget the agent (and by implication the real estate agency) who helped or, hindered them in the process.

The above mentioned reasons are exactly why it’s so important for agencies to ensure that their service is beyond reproach.  According to Marketing Metrics: The Definitive Guide to Measuring Marketing Performance, "... customer satisfaction ratings can have powerful effects. They focus employees on the importance of fulfilling customers’ expectations”. “Our agents know that their clients will be phoned by an independent consultant to assess their performance – this keeps them on their toes”, believes Swain.

“The Leapfrog motto is it’s not sometimes about the people, it’s always about the people,” says Swain. “We encourage our clients to test us on this by contacting the support office should they have any complaints or, of course, compliments.”

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