Customer retention is not a defensive play.
The truth is, there is only a limited number of customers out there. But if you treat your customers right, you can get exponential returns on each and every one.
If you’re trying to figure out how to close more real estate deals and scale your business to the next level, lean in. We’re about to tell you everything you need to know to turn your current customer base into a lead conversion machine.
Why is the Customer Experience so Important in Real Estate?
We’re going to go ahead and answer that with another question:
What is the lifetime value of your customer?
Most agents think it’s the commissions paid on a home bought every seven years or so. They’d be wrong.
All of your customers know other potential customers, possibly even hundreds of them, which could lead to hundreds more. Even if you only calculated two closed referrals for each of your current customers, how much more would that first lead be worth?
Bottom line: If you don’t have a customer retention and referral strategy in place you ARE leaving money on the table.
The Customer Service Problem in Real Estate
Most real estate agents close a deal, then move right on into new lead acquisition. But what if you and your team entire team knew the real lifetime value of your customers. What if you could actually see that number hanging above each and every name on your list? How much more energy would you put into building those relationships?
The ability to see your customers from this point of view is a winning strategy for any business but nowhere does it matter more than in the game of real estate. Your market is only so big and there are only so many customers to go around. What do you want your customers to say about you to their friends, family and possible future clients?
Before you dive head-first into buying real estate leads, take some time to build a solid customer retention strategy. The last thing you want as a growing agent is to stretch yourself too thin and forget to provide an excellent experience to your customers — dropping the ball on them could destroy the success you spent so much time and energy building.
(And if you want to know the lifetime value of a customer, checkout Adwerx’s LVC calculator.)
How to Provide Stellar Customer Experience
The bar for customer service is low in many real estate markets, which means there’s a gold mine of opportunity for agents who are willing to go the extra mile to make their clients happy.
Here are some of the key components to help you build your customer retention and referral strategy, including real-life tips from top agents.
Personalize Your Approach to Provide Value Upfront
You know the old saying about first impressions, right?
Your leads can always tell how much you care (or don’t). From that very first text, email or call, they know. That’s right, even in a text message your authenticity, or lack thereof, will shine through. That’s why the people who think they can fake it are wrong.
At the end of the day, we all know the difference between talking to someone who’s just trying to sell to us versus talking to someone who truly wants to help. You have to genuinely care about your prospects and customers, not just pretend to.
And there’s no better way to do that than by personalizing your sales process to focus on the exact problem they’re facing. Despite popular belief, it is possible to automate your businesswhile providing a friendly, relevant experience for your leads.
The below email comes from Barry Jenkins, leader of the #2 Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate teams in the US. This is just one of many ways you can start on the right foot with your prospects and future customers.
Think about it. What if you were the person who solved whatever problem they were facing today? Whether that was buying a new home, figuring out the best way to relocate or finding the perfect spot to take their partner out for date night.
Relax. Have a conversation. Figure out what they need and how you can help. And as a bonus, when someone asks them how they solved that problem, guess whose name they’re going to mention?
Of course, we’re not crazy. We know it’s impossible to have a personal interaction with all of your clients all of the time. But that’s where automation comes in.
Is Anna looking for the perfect school for her daughter next year? Great. Note that down on her profile inside your CRM and the next time you talk to her you’ll be ready to have a conversation she’ll actually enjoy and remember.
Be Responsive and Relevant
Have you ever had a sales person call you six times and then when you finally find time to call them back they’re too busy to take your call? Bad, right?
The old way of selling (a.k.a. pestering your leads until they give in) is totally ineffective. The problem is that many agents are still reading the old “classic” real estate books about how to sell. But think about it, even if those hard sell methods work, how will your customer feel after the deal is closed?
Yes, you need to follow up consistently. Yes, you need to be the agent who’s always there. But NO, that does NOT mean you need to overdo it.
Source: Walker Insights
It doesn’t mean you have to be available at all hours of the night, either.
It’s about having a system in place that delivers relevant, consistent follow up and always gives the prospect the right information, when they need it (even if that’s at 2am when you’re fast asleep).
Remember, it’s about the right time for them, not you. That’s why tools like ours and so many other CRMs exist. You can easily automate text, email drip campaigns or even direct mailers to serve your customers with helpful information on everything from buying a rental property to just saying ‘Congrats!’ on the one-year anniversary in their new home.
Once you’ve taken the time to build genuine trust, it won’t feel at all sleazy to ask them to recommend someone they know who is looking to buy or sell a home.
Never forget the power of a great Sphere of Influence.
Our clients at the Graham Seeby Group went from 0 to $90 million in revenue in four yearswith nothing but a list of 279 past clients. They broke down their list and set a simple automatic follow up schedule using phone, email and video messages. “If you go into any meeting with a group of seasoned Realtors, and ask what’s the number one source of your business? Just about 99 percent of them are going to say, referrals. But new agents always market to people they don’t know, versus marketing people they do,” says Justin Seeby.
Yes, you need the sale. But you also need this person to be completely happy so they bring you everyone else they know. Let go of the idea of selling and start actively checking in with your past clients just to see how they’re doing and if there’s any way you can help them out.
Go the Extra Mile
Director of Residential Sales and agent at Open Listings, Joe Arsenio was definitely having trouble keeping up when he decided to grow his team. He had just experienced a massive increase in volume and he didn’t want his customer service to slip through the cracks.
“When I reached 20 escrows and maintained being between 20-30 escrows at all times for a couple of weeks, I knew it was time to bring on more team members. My partner agents were in the same boat as well. We were all getting more acceptances than we were closing (escrows are typically 30 days and therefore closings are month out) and yet the leads kept flowing in at increasing rate. We needed to hire more agents to make sure we did not slip up on our top notch service,” says Joe.
If you’re in a similar position, you might be terrified at the idea of making your first hire. But remember, it’s not just for you. It’s for your customer.
Your ability to consistently deliver fast, friendly and informative replies must scale and expand in line with your business. The little things do matter.
You need to have the tools and team in place to be able to treat your prospect like a friend even before the sale, and continue to treat them that way long after.
That level of connection is what makes the difference between having to go after hundreds of new leads a year, or you being someone’s automatic first choice when the time is right.