My disappointing experience as a real estate customer

My disappointing experience as a real estate customer

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For many years now we have been bombarded by customer service buzzwords such as ‘raving fans’, ‘customer experience’, ‘client value’ and the list goes on. Books have been written, training sessions run and yet, for some reason, many agents still don’t seem to have quite mastered the art of providing service that we can ‘rave’ about.

I haven’t had to look for a property to buy for a number of years. However, over the last few weeks a friend and I have spent many weekends driving around looking at suburbs, attending opens and trawling the internet searching for an apartment.

I have had to become a customer in our industry and my experience with agents, regardless of the brand they represent, has been nothing short of disappointing.

Let me share some of these with you:

• Attending opens where agents are too busy talking to friends to pay you any attention

• No follow-up calls from any agent

• No section 32s at opens

• Having to send reminder emails to agents to forward me section 32s

• Typing my name incorrectly into an email (clearly they have not looked at who they are sending it to)

• No follow up after the section 32 being sent in regards to my interest

• No follow up call to ensure that I will be attending auctions that are being held this weekend (and, yes, I did ask for the section 32 on these properties)

• A number of agents not bothering to ask me what I thought of the property

• No one asking me what I was looking for and my timeframe

• No one asking me if I had a property to sell

• No one asking me what I thought of the property I had just viewed

The only agent who did follow up was a young girl who worked in country Victoria. Shame she doesn’t work in the city!

On the one hand, my level of frustration with agents is at an all-time high. On the other, however, it makes me realise that the competition in our marketplaces is perhaps easier to beat then we realise.

My list above is simple, basic real estate 101. Not hard to deliver on.

My tip to agents in the field would be to get a few of your friends to attend opens of your opposition and see what their experience is. Guaranteed, it is most likely to be similar to mine and this provides you with the opportunity to deliver not just higher levels of service and follow-up, but use this experience and knowledge in listing presentations.

If agents cannot do simple follow-up calls and provide information in a timely way, how will they get the absolute best price for their vendor?

Delivery of exceptional service isn’t hard. Technology is not the answer: picking up the phone and having a valuable conversation is.

If I have experienced this level of service in the short time I have been on the market, it fills me with dread to think what the general public experience is. Sadly, what I have encountered is the norm and it has been for a number of years. So what will it take for us as an industry to change?

Sadhana Smiles is chief executive officer of Harcourts Victoria, the state division of one of Australia’s leading and well respected real estate brands. She is also a popular speaker and presenter, and is regularly asked to speak at some of the industry’s most prestigious events, including ARPM, AREC, AREL, RELC, the REINSW Women’s Conference and the Harcourts Conference. Sadhana is also a regular contributor to a number of national real estate journals and publications.

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