Customer service is one of the most important aspects of your business, but unfortunately, it is sometimes one of the last things people think about. Joseph Quitoni, the Senior Practice Director at the Ritz-Carlton shared their best practices for consistently delivering world-class customer service at the California Association of Realtors’ conference in LA. Here’s a recap of what he shared with a few hundred agents in the audience.
In real estate, we are all selling the same product - homes. The only way you can really differentiate yourself is through excellent customer service, which is similar to how the Ritz-Carlton focuses and wows in their industry.
Employees are taught to turn every customer interaction into a defining moment. The first step of this is to understand what “expressed and unexpressed wishes” are of their guests. The second step is that they are encouraged and enabled to create a unique, memorable experience for that wish.
For example, there was a guest who called into security in a frenzy. His son had left his stuffed animal Joshie behind at the hotel. The father told his son that the stuffed animal had stayed a little while longer on vacation. When the security staff called back said they found Joshie, the father had requested a quick photo of Joshie on a lawn chair to share with his son. The staff took this request, and took it up a few notches. Not only did they send Joshie back with a photo, but also a bunch of toys, and a photo album of Joshie having the adventure of his life:
Most hotels would have just shipped the stuffed animal home. But the Ritz created a memory that will last a lifetime for the entire family. And because they did that, the father wrote about it in a viral Huffington Post article shortly after. The moral of the story is this - memorable experience and excellent service are infectious. People take notice, and want to share those experiences with their friends.
How to create a memorable experience in real estate:
Joe then went into a story of what this could look like in real estate. He shared a personal experience of walking into an agent’s office a few minutes prior to an appointment he had scheduled. This is what happened during that experience:
- When Joe walked in, the receptionist didn’t even notice he was there. Her head was down on her phone.
- When Joe said hello to the receptionist, she asked who he was even though he had an appointment.
- The agent then walked out 10 minutes late to the appointment, making Joe wait more than 20 minutes to meet him.
- The agent was stressed and had loads of paperwork that didn’t pertain to Joe’s appointment, but was for other clients.
How do you think that experience made this customer feel? Unimportant, confused and mad. Is that how you want your clients to feel?
If you were thinking like the Ritz-Carlton, the experience could have looked something like this:
- Share a warm and sincere greeting. Since you knew a client was coming in, the receptionist or agent could have been standing inside by the company logo, greeting the guest by name. Saying someone’s name demonstrates respect which makes people feel valued.
- Anticipate their needs. The agent should have been on time, bringing documents that pertained to the conversation at hand. If they had mentioned they liked tea in a previous conversation, they could have had tea ready at the table.
- Give a fond farewell. When the appointment is over, give a warm goodbye and use your client’s name. Tell them how much you appreciate their business. Ask if there is anything you could do to create a better experience for them.
Joe also recommends taking a common request and trying to elevate it. For example, many people who stay in hotels request a wake up call. Most hotels just call you at the time you requested which meets expectations. But the Ritz calls you can tells you about the weather, and if it rains, has umbrellas waiting for you. This is excellent, memorable service.
How can you best bring this high level of service to your business? How do you wow your customers in unexpected ways?
At Clozio, we believe transparency is one way to provide a high level of service. Many clients describe their closing or listing experience as a “blackbox” - leaving them confused and overwhelmed much of the time. We created a free transaction calendar to solve this exact problem. Now agents can easily share important milestones and tasks, so clients never feel left behind. You can sign up for a free account here.