He moved into his new home last week after an 18-month search and an eight-week wait from exchange of contracts.
Leading industry figure Peter Knight says it has been a testing time, and claims most of the customer service horrors could have been avoided or turned into both positive experiences and commercial opportunities.
Here are his tips as to how to create a truly moving experience for home buyers – and they’re worth reading if you want to be the agent “that will have buyers raving about you and your firm, as well as near guaranteeing they’ll return when it’s time to sell”.
- Treat “applicants” as if they are “buyers”. Not everyone has to move within a few weeks, many people search for months, even a year or more. These people are not “time wasters” or “tyre kickers” but future customers that just aren’t ready to commit yet, or maybe they need assistance to convert from casual to fully active – there’s opportunity number one.
- Treat “buyers” as current “referrers” and future “sellers”. Based on my experience with Andrew Giller of House in Cranleigh, (http://housepartnership.co.uk/), I will recommend his agency, (here I am doing that), and there’s no doubt I’ll be referring home owners their way.
- Get to know your buyers. Ideally have a face-to-face meeting but at the very least pick up the phone and have a chat. And a chat in my book isn’t completing fields on a computer screen – it’s about a conversation where you do your best to truly diagnose your buyers’ wants and needs. I’ve persuaded several EAs to return to using a paper based “form” with just three questions: What’s the most important thing to you about this move?; What’s been your experience so far? Tell me all about the property you want to buy? (If they’re selling as well as buying then add, “and tell me all about your property”). You can fill in the computer fields after the conversation and doing it this way will make the buyer feel much more appreciated than processed.
- Keep in touch. Again by phone NOT email. I believe email is the primary cause of the reduction in customer service within estate agency: it creates more problems than it solves. In 18 months one EA sent me five emails a day on average – not once did any of their sales team call me, even after viewing several properties through them.
- Seek feedback from every viewing. Feedback is gold in estate agency. You get to further diagnose and build on the relationship with the buyer. You also get insights to discuss with your seller clients.
- Move from being the “transactional agent” to the “trusted advisor”. The more interest, care and concern you show your buyer when they’re looking the more likely they’ll be to take your advice, consider your mortgage advisor, conveyancing partner, etc at the appropriate times.
- Celebrate with your buyer at the key stages: offer accepted, contracts exchanged and completion – after all, you’ve reason to celebrate too. Make them feel they’re as valuable to you as your seller clients.