The agency business is very much a service business. So good service ought to be a priority if you want to compete and grow your business. In this post, we’ll offer a few thoughts on how to give even better customer service.

But first, what are the reasons for aiming to give the best customer service?

Yes, it’s a good thing to do of course. But there are even better reasons than that. Having the best customer service means you can compete on more than just price. You don’t have to be the cheapest to get the instruction.

Good customer service also helps build loyalty and helps build your brand. It can be a great method of ‘free’ marketing – in that customers who get great service may well recommend you. It’s also a way of attracting and keeping good staff.

Now on to some ideas for giving great service which you can try for yourself.

Answer enquiries quickly, and act on them as soon as possible. A first enquiry is the first point of contact with your business. And although it doesn’t make any real sense it’s often the person who answers the enquiry (or even the phone) first who gets the business.

Often it’s not just answering an enquiry quickly that is the key, but actually doing something with that enquiry. So try to have a policy where every call or enquiry should result in an action. (Even if it’s just to say we’ll call you back .... and then actually doing it.)

Under promise, but over deliver. Under promising what you can do but over delivering on what you actually do – or UPOD as it’s sometimes known – is something of a cliché but it can work. The secret of using UPOD however is to get the balance just right: If you promise too little you’ll lose instructions to the many others who actually over promise, then under deliver.

UPOD can be something of an insurance policy when it comes to customer service. Even if you don’t manage to give great service few people are disappointed if they get more than they were expecting.

Be available when your customers want you. Everyone is used to everything being available 24/7 now. But working traditional business hours makes it very difficult to deliver the customer service that people expect. In fact, being available anytime is one of the ways that online agents claim to be able to offer better customer service.

While no one wants to actually work 24/7 consider modifying your opening hours so that you’re available more of the time when people actually want to contact you. For example, by opening and closing later. Or by being flexible, such as having extended opening hours at busy times of the year and shorter ones when it’s quieter.

Working from home makes it easier for staff to be available more of the time. Services like online assistants, live chat and phone concierge services can also make it seem like you’re open even when you’re not.

Take online seriously. There’s a belief in many businesses that email enquiries or contacts from online forms often aren’t serious enquiries and don’t often lead to sales. That means that they can be treated as less or even not important. But you’ll struggle to find any real evidence that’s the case.

Online contact is only going to grow so ensure these are taken as seriously as phone calls. If you don’t want to enter into long email exchanges with a potential customer (one of the reasons email enquiries often aren’t popular) then aim to convert it into a phone contact or face-to-face meeting at the first opportunity.

Bear in mind that some customers now prefer to communicate by text too.

Recognise that social media is now a communications channel. Those who interact with you on social media are actually communicating with your business. Even if their interaction doesn’t seem like an enquiry they may well be prospective customers. So always make sure likes, comments, shares etc. are responded to.

Likewise, messages on social media should be given the same importance as phone calls or emails

Have a system for collecting and progressing all connections. Make sure that, from the moment a customer or other person or organisation first gets in touch, that contact is recorded. Then, have a system for reviewing that connection and ensuring what needs to be done to progress or resolve it is done.

Professional software, like that offered by Apex27, is an easy and effective way of managing all your contacts.

Manage appointments effectively. Missed and late appointments such as viewings, and appointments that are too long or too short, are not only poor customer service but inefficient and wasteful of your time too. A system for scheduling and managing appointments will not only enhance your customer service but save you time and money.

Integrate everything. Every agency operation involves drawing together many different people and many different services to produce a good service. The better your system for integrating everything in a seamless way the better your customer service will be.

Again, a good estate and letting agency software package like Apex27 will help you manage your workflow and integrate everything better.

Use suppliers who uphold the same customer standards that you do. Even though you may strive to give great customer service using suppliers who don’t creates a weak link in the customer service chain.

So aim to always find and use suppliers and providers who not only promise great customer service but manage to deliver it too. (If your suppliers need any hints to up their customer service game, you can always share this post with them!)

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