A Key to Better Customer Service is Setting Expectations

By Kim Shindle | July 18, 2023 | 5 min. read

Providing above and beyond customer service and outstanding hospitality are steps to ensure your clients are satisfied and refer you to their family and friends.

“First and foremost, most Realtors® want to serve their clients well,” said Maura Neill, team leader at RE/MAX Around Atlanta and a national real estate speaker. “They want to go above and beyond for their clients and they want to remain in their minds long after closing.”

One of the ways to provide better customer service is to set expectations. “There are two types of clients, one who has never worked with a Realtor® and one who has. The one who hasn’t worked with a Realtor® doesn’t know what our role is. The client who has worked with a real estate agent in the past may not know what to expect because you don’t know what type of service they received before.”

“If we fail to set expectations, it’s where we run into issues,” she said. “For example, you should let your client know when you’re going to be available. Realtors® shouldn’t be expected to be available 24/7, any more than we can expect a client to be available at all hours to look at a home. Being respectful and professional helps the client understand we’re working for a common goal.”

“I explain to my clients that I probably won’t answer their calls after 7 p.m. because I’m protective of my time because I’ve found that having time to myself is better for my mental health and makes me a better Realtor®,” she said. “Before I told clients that, they would call me at all hours and I would answer their calls. Now I explain that when we’re up against a deadline, I’ll work until midnight for you. But setting a boundary upfront is important and clients understand then why you’re not answering their call because you’ve set the expectation.”

“Together, the Realtor® and client are part of the same team and their cooperation is an important part of our success as well,” Neill added. “They should understand that when you send a request for something like completing paperwork, they should respond in a timely manner or it could impact their ability to purchase a home.”

Providing the same level of service to every client is also key to avoiding potential fair housing or Code of Ethics violations. “You can’t cherry-pick who gets better service just because you like someone better,” Neill noted. “You should be asking everyone the same questions, charging the same commission – which is negotiable – and keep records of your conversations.”

Being a better listener helps provide a better level of service. “We all need to be mindful of active listening,” she said. “We’re all guilty of sitting down with a client and we have so much to say about what we do and what makes us special, that when we ask the client a question, we’re busy thinking about the next question or information we want to share that we don’t hear what they’re saying.”

Neill’s company sends a questionnaire to their clients asking when their birthday is, what their favorite sports team and restaurant are, what their Starbucks order is, what types of pets they have and what their favorite flower is. “I love when a client says, ‘I can’t believe you remember that about me.’ I take detailed notes so I get to know my clients better. It’s human nature to want to be understood and to want to know more about others. And this way, when I want to do something special for a client, I have something to reference that allows me to do something that they like that’s unique to them.”

“Danny Meyer, a famous restauranteur and founder of Shake Shack, believes customer service and hospitality are two different things,” Neill said. “He says, ‘Service is the technical delivery of a product. Hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes its recipient feel. Service is a monologue. Hospitality is a dialogue.’”

“It’s the extras that we add to the client’s experience that make them feel special,” she said.
“Every Realtor® can go above and beyond based on our own budget and do something that resonates with the clients we work with. It can be something as simple as sending them an anniversary or birthday card. It should feel authentic to your personality.”

“You can provide a high level of customer service and hospitality without spending a dime – you don’t have to send gifts and hold parties. Listening and showing your clients you care helps them enjoy the experience,” she said.

Neill cautions that it’s vital to remember that some clients may want to have only a business relationship and don’t necessarily want to connect with you on a personal level.

“Many Realtors® want to be friends with everyone because many of us are extremely outgoing. It’s easy to forget that not everyone wants an ongoing friendship. When you get these types of signals from a client, respect their wishes and don’t push it,” she added.

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