The recent survey by the California Association of Realtors shows some stunning and alarming trends about customer service expectations and delivery. In 2005, Internet consumers rated their overall satisfaction with their agent at almost 90%, while traditional buyers rated their overall satisfaction at 37%. However, in the ensuing years, the ratings have plummeted. In 2009, both Internet and traditional buyers only rated their overall satisfaction with their agent at 4%! (The ratings of Internet and traditional buyers now are equal). In other words, consumer expectations of what an agent will do for them are just not being met. In fact, value received for what the consumer paid the real estate agent was at only 4% for all buyers.
Trends Collide: Consumer Expectations Rise While Agents’ Abilities to Meet Those Expectations Shrink
While consumer satisfaction levels are going down, the number of ‘dual career agents’ (I call them part-timers) continues up. What’s the result? Low customer satisfaction! I know. You’re going to tell me that you met a part-timer once that did a great job. Of course. But, as you and I know, that’s the exception, not the rule. And, let’s not think ‘inside-out’. The consumer’s satisfaction here is the only one that counts. They pay our commissions. And, commission rates are falling because they don’t feel they’re receiving value from what they are paying.
Time for our Leadership to Set some Standards
What’s your standard for work completed by agents in your office? Are you okay with “just turn in a couple of sales this year”? Or, are you concerned with the consumer experience? If we don’t start thinking about that, we will be replaced by something consumers can count on—those darned computers! (I hope not!). However, if the consumer is paying us, we must decide what he is paying us for (and it isn’t because we use technology……).
Here’s my list of valued services. What’s yours?
- Dedicated service throughout the transaction
- Prioritized knowledge not available just on the Internet
- Immediate communication and continued first-level service
- Exceptional negotiating skills
- Loyalty, putting the customer first, rather than another job first
The Internet and Agent Knowledge: Almost Neck in Neck on Consumers’ Minds
By the way, in the CAR survey, 54% of the consumers surveyed thought the information they got on the Internet was less useful than what they got from their agent. Does that sound good to you? To me, it sounds very bad. Almost half of the consumers think the Internet is just as good as your live agent! So, let’s get to cracking and get our agents performing past the standards we set. Why? Because the consumers have already set the standards—and they’re higher than what we’re allowing. Let’s put the industry back on track toward pride in excellent service. Let’s knock the consumer’s socks off with prioritized knowledge, attention to the transaction, and exceptional service. We can do it, and brokers must lead. Now.