Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Customer Service: A Must in this Day and Age

What ever happened to customer service? In today's world, it seems to be lost, as hard to find as a Dodo Bird or one of those old deep fried McDonald's cherry pies (you know the ones... the kind that were light and flaky on the outside but had that molten lava center that gave you a third degree burn on your lip after you bit into it).

Nothing burns me more than when I have an issue with some goods or services. Seems to be happening more and more these days. Then when I try to get some satisfaction, all I get is the run around and the overall attitude that it was my fault the problem exists.

It always surprises me when I get bad "service" just trying to do my job with other professionals that are in the same business. How does one sell a house when one does call back an agent who is trying to set up an appointment to bring a buyer through their property? Why would I have to make numerous calls to a mortgage broker to get an update on a deal in progress? What can I do to get a call back from someone I leave a message for? In this day and age, everyone has a cell phone attached to their hip. Why is it so hard to get in touch with people?

I could waste brain cells trying to decipher the answers to these questions, but it wouldn't do any good. My time would be better spent tooting my own horn.

With an economical climate that we are in now, it is a no brainer that the best way to ensure people will use your services or purchase your products is to guarantee excellent customer service. To be quite frank, it really costs nothing to provide this. I don't like to brag, but I pride myself on the service that I provide my clients. The high level of care I take with those I represent is something I take satisfaction in.

When making first contact with a new client, I always let them know about how I operate. Allow me to break down my rules here. Some may say, "Mike! Why give away your secrets of success?" and I would answer, "Because it would make my job a whole lot easier if everyone operated this way!"

I operate in this fashion:
  • If you call me on my cell phone, I will answer. IF I do not answer and the call goes into voice mail, leave a short message. The reason I did not answer is because I am either on the other line or with a client (I never answer my phone when with a client... I give my people my full attention, just as I would for you if I was in your presence. Answering the phone while with someone, I feel, is rude). You can be sure though, that I will be returning your call as soon as possible. I make it a goal to do so within an hour. It is a rare occasion that I cannot.
  • My cell (just like everyone else these days) is always on my person and always on. The only time it is not is when I am charging it. IF I am charging it, that means I am asleep. By some chance you call and I am asleep, you can be sure that I will be returning your call as soon as I wake, even before I have that first cup of coffee.
  • I keep long hours so you can call me at any time. Don't call me at midnight thinking you'll just leave me a message because I will answer. I love it when I get that surprised response, "OH! I didn't think you'd be up." Yep, sure am... and probably working on your purchase or sale!
  • Many people like to communicate through e-mail and text message. I will do so if that is what you prefer, but I like to talk on the phone, if not face to face. Intentions and meanings can be misconstrued otherwise.
  • If an open house is scheduled for your property, then I will be there to hold it. I do not enlist other agents to hold my opens. You hired me to sell your property, so I will be there to do so. I will point out all the attributes of your home that you take pride in.
  • I do not use lock boxes. I am present at all showings of your property for both selling and security reasons. 
  • Follow up... I do it. I like to give my clients feedback on the showings of their home. 
  • Communication is key. I regularly contact my clients to let them know the state of affairs in regards to the buying or selling of their home. I'll call even if I have nothing to report which brings to the table two things: 
    • I haven't forgotten about you and am doing my best to work for you.
    • Maybe we need to evaluate our buying/selling strategy to bring about the desired outcome. I'll have suggestions.
  • If you are purchasing, I'll be at your closing (Sellers usually arrange to sign papers ahead of time and at the leisure, but I can be there too). In all the years that I have sold real estate, I have not been present at only four closings and that was because they were done via mail. Do I need to be at closing? Not really. 99% of the time I am just there looking pretty, but there is always that 1% possibility that something may not go according to plan, and if I am there, I may be able to squash the problem before it holds up the process.
  • When placing a purchase offer, I try to personally present the offer to the seller. Most agents will do the "Scan or Fax". Whenever possible, I try to make the offer personally. The selling party is not obligated to have me present it, in fact it rarely happens, but if the agent doesn't ask then the answer is already "no". Many agents don't do this... maybe they are scared, lazy, can't be bothered, but I do. I relish the opportunity to give the solid pitch and negotiate the hard sell.
There are other ways I provide exceptional service, but if I divulged them here, that would give away too much! I don't want my competition to know ALL my secrets...

There are many good agents out there, yet ask yourself this question: How long did it take my agent to get back to me the last time I left a message on the cell phone that they always have on them? If you don't like the answer, give me a call. The only way I will not answer or call you back in a timely fashion is if I am either dead or I dropped my phone in the toilet. Right now, I don't know which scenario would be worse! Roc and Roll, people!

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