I was recently having lunch with a friend who is a judge on an industry award panel. I asked him ‘what are his biggest frustrations from the submissions?’ His reply "attention to the basics." This got me thinking, are we asking the right questions within our businesses?
Now we all know customer service has the power to make or break a business. But do your staff know your expectations? Let's look at a brand whose teams are fully aware of their employers’ expectations - Disney. Walt Disney had a clear vision for his business and outlined 4 sets of rules to stick to:
1. Dream beyond the boundaries of today
2. Believe in sound values
3. Dare to make a difference
4. And the just go out and do it!
Dream, Believe, Dare, Do
Even today these principals are at the core of their business and all staff learn clearly what is expected of them: presentation, values, and 'do'.
As estate agents you may give your teams training, hold team meetings to drill home the importance of customer service and even inform them of your 'dreams' for growth. But do you ever specifically state your expectations?
We have confidence in our teams but there is always room for improvement. Yes no one is perfect! In our very competitive industry it is imperative to keep on top of your game, and it's only by reviewing and evolving that we can achieve this.
It is easy for team members to get complacent, this is not a criticism just a fact. Our first interaction with a client is one of the most important moments within our business. If your team ask the right questions and thus instill trust, you can turn that interaction into a client. It's not about the big gestures, but the extra little touches that can really make all the difference.
I was talking to Michelle Wilden from JDG Estate Agents the other day, and she told me about a situation where a local competitor failed dramatically at the basics. Michelle received a phone call from a vendor who had their property up with another agent but shockingly the agent had informed the vendor they didn’t have time to do the viewings. It gets worse! The other agent had 5 viewings planned in December and had cancelled each one, again due to lack of time. As Michelle told me “That’s 5 potential chances to sell it!” The vendor asked Michelle if she had time to undertake viewings, you can imagine her reply –YES.
Not undertaking one of their core services as an estate agent had lost this agent business and provided custom for another. It makes me wonder whether this agent asked the right questions of the vendor. Are you in a position to be able to loose a sale?
But we should not just only look to our own industry to seek best practice but all businesses in general. I spoke to a business manager at Santander bank yesterday and he informed me that they are always been pointed to John Lewis as a benchmark for customer service. Is your team as willing and as attentive throughout the entire client experience as the team at John Lewis?
Before Christmas I visited a local toy store. It was a chaotic 'every man for himself' toy store. I couldn't find what I was looking for, then all of a sudden a young sales person was upon me "Hi, you seem to be looking a bit lost, is there anything specifically you are looking for?" I told him the toy I wanted and a few minutes later he returned with the gift. I was amazed at this personal service especially at such a busy time of year that the next time I was in I made of point of thanking the manager.
He acknowledged for the last couple of years they had not been performing, as far as he was concerned they provided great service, they sold what his customers wanted but something wasn't clicking. He said reluctantly he invited in a 'mystery shopper company' and was surprised what valuable insight he received about the service, his customers and his business. He told me that now he:
- Sets clear expectations and values for his team
- They learn together from the feedback they receive and always seek to improve
- They ask the right questions of their customers
In essence, he said, "We have gone back to basics."
Make 2015 the year where you go back to basics.
If you want to make 2015 your award winning year, let me help you to revisit the basics and build a strong foundation for success.