The Real Estate industry used to be straightforward, with a traditional business model where you could secure a piece of land, hire a reputable architect to make plans, then a contractor who would open up a site office, and the sales process would take care of itself.
The only challenge was the project or building delivery, so the business focus and stress was always about the asset itself.
With the awakening of customer power and knowledge, there is a tide of change that is now driving the industry: the customer is pushing it to become customer-centric.
Thirty years ago, the industry was very ‘broker controlled’, then it shifted to focus on the agent, who is much more aware and educated than the broker, aiming high to become a property consultant. Now customers come to agents with a list of properties they have selected, and even with a comparison sheet of different projects, knowing the payment plan for each, as well as the major differential aspects.
They come with a plethora of information they have gained from the internet, and that again puts the customer firmly in the driver’s seat.
In a discussion I had with one of the elders in the Real Estate brokerage market, he admitted that: “Our role as Real Estate agents has changed. We used to be the gatekeepers of information, and now we’re the collaborators.”
Thanks to the explosion of digital communication, resulting in digital marketing and social media marketing in the past several years, it’s now a must for any Real Estate professional to have a digital identity, either for himself as a solo operation, or his firm, in order to develop a dialogue instead of the traditional ‘monologue’ provided by traditional marketing tactics that were used by agents.
Real Estate professionals and agents came to the belief that information doesn’t sell anymore, and it’s motivation that triggers the ‘call to action’ moment where the customer takes the decision to close the deal.
Yet why is improved customer service vital for Real Estate industry growth?
Like any industry, what separates it from the competition is its customer service. Customer service plays a pivotal role in making a business succeed, or it can be the reason for its downfall. This is the reason organizations carry out rigorous analysis to improve their customer service, so they can retain existing customers and attract potential clients.
Real Estate is one such customer-centric industry.
Customers are the ones who make huge investments within the Real Estate market through buying properties, and if they aren’t comfortable enough then it’s a business loss. Having a customer-centric service makes the customer feel that you understand their needs, challenges, and the quality of life they aspire to, and that you are here to sort all this out in a nice, neat manner.
They will feel you can let them achieve their dream home or office, or financial freedom, through Real Estate investment. This feeling gives the customer the confidence to make those big investments that help Real Estate businesses to thrive.
Huge transformation in customer service is required because Real Estate investors expect a lot from the industry. Here are some key areas where Real Estate needs to improve:
This is one area where professionalism is required. Most of Real Estate executives lack proper knowledge of the market and understanding of customer needs. Unfortunately, many are unable to precisely handle customers, or they don’t understand exactly what they want. Besides this, some executives lack intelligence, which is very much required to analyze the market and know when is the time to invest, or sell, or offer the best deal to customers.
This is another very important aspect of customer care in which Real Estate needs to bring huge transformations. Customers are often hesitant to invest a hefty amount in Real Estate, as it has created a bad impression of being non-transparent. So, to eliminate this impression of non-transparency there are certain things like hiding facts, telling lies to customers, and false promises which need to be curbed in the whole process – from client meeting, presentation, deal closure, and until the customer makes the final payment.
Like in other industries, customers want availability to have conversations regarding things that matter. It is not like the executive needs to be available 24/7 for customers, but small things like returning phone calls, replying to emails promptly, keeping up with appointments without rescheduling, and answering every query are some factors that can make a big difference. This way you create a positive impression of your company, and a happy customer tends to bring a lot of business through references, which is essential for growth.
Every customer wants to be heard. Customers have many concerns when they are about to make an investment in Real Estate, so when you listen attentively it signals that you take these concerns seriously and will help them find the best deal. It is a common complaint among customers that executives don’t listen to them.
Besides this, there are a few other aspects of customer service, such as friendliness, communication, exceeding expectations, and post-investment feedback that need improvement to help the industry achieve better growth.
In conclusion, the main driver of Real Estate is the customer, and if the industry experts become more focused on customer-centric approaches during the whole process – pre, during, and post sales – then the market should start moving forward exponentially due to the trust between customers and investors.