Customer Service is not a Four-Letter Word…

customer-service
[this post originally appeared January 30th, 2009 at blog.team366.net.  I’m editing it and republishing it here for use outside of real estate]

So on Wednesday, we got a fair bit of snow dumped on us in the Ann Arbor area. It fouled up the roads, was generally a pain to travel through and seriously messed up one of my windshield wipers.

You never realize how much you depend on those wipers until they don’t work correctly…

So, on my way home, I stopped into our local Advance Auto Parts for a single replacement wiper blade. I anticipated paying for the blade, opening the package, removing the old blade and installing the new blade.

You Know What Happens When You Assume…

Rob, the guy behind the counter, zeroed in on me as soon as I came through the door. Greeted me warmly and inquired why I had poked my head into the store. When I explained what I was looking for, he took one look at my car (he saw me pull up) and asked what year it was. He then asked which blade I was replacing, found it, cashed me out and then headed for the door with wiper blade in hand.

Shocked that he was heading to the door, I asked what he was doing, “I’ll replace it for you if that’s okay.”

Some of Life’s Neatest Moments are Small – An Aha! Moment

[smartads]
As I drove home, it dawned on me what had just happened. I had low expectations, anticipated that I would fumble around with an auto parts book, have to wait in line, and then spend a few moments in the freezing weather replacing a simple wiper blade.

Admittedly, my expectations weren’t high to begin with…and I was alright with that.

I thought of my clients, past and present, that have expressed their pleasure at some small expectation that my team and I have exceeded through the course of our transactions. It dawned on me that many folks entering the real estate market view the process as about as enjoyable as root canal…and that, potentially, as an industry, we have brought this upon ourselves.

A Few Questions…

What are your clients’ expectations?

  • Can’t go any further without knowing their expectations!

Have you meet your clients’ expectations on a regular basis?

  • If yes, how can you exceed their expectations?

Do your clients realize you’ve met their expectations?

  • Without slapping yourself on the back too hard, have your clients seen the value you bring to table by simply meeting their expectations?

Application

First, KNOWING your clients’ expectations is the biggest issue to address.  Within real estate, consumer expectations on agent performance are particularly low.  Therefore, meeting client expectations are relatively easy for a professional.  Perhaps your industry or service already has high expectations.  What further things can you do to meet and exceed client expectations?

Second, under promise and over deliver.  If you start with the end in mind, and know the objections and concerns that WILL arise during the course of a sale or service, you KNOW what your clients will ask, require, desire and talk about.

Plan in advance to manage expectations.  If you can manage expectations throughout the process, under promising and over-delivering will come naturally.

Third, have your clients ever expressed satisfaction or surprise at something you’ve done throughout the course of their transaction?  Chances are, if you are in sales, that at some point a client was floored by your service, delivery, professionalism, etc.  Your ability to differentiate yourself from others in your field helps IMMENSELY in managing expectations (in re, already low) and then showing value above and beyond the average (just returning inquiries appears to be a great place to start.

What traits of awesome customer service have you experienced recently?

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