We believe customer service is key to the success of your agency, but as much as everyone bangs on about 'great customer service', it doesn't make it any clearer what steps you should actually take to make sure you're totally nailing it! Read on to find out all about some customer service heroes in other industries, what happens if you mess it up, and some steps you can start on to improve it - today!
What does 'great customer service' really mean? 🧐
When one of your renters says they experienced 'great customer service', what they really mean is made up of much more than just the staff being friendly. These days, consumers expect much more than just service with a smile. Companies have pushed the boundaries to go above and beyond for their customers, to guarantee that everyone has more than just a 'good' experience. We've passed the time of advertising being the only way to acquire customers, and big companies know this. They know that today, people want personal recommendations. Where do these recommendations come from? People who had an amazing experience with a company and it was sooooo stand-out, they just have to share it.
At Movebubble, everything we do it towards our goal of making renting better, and putting the renter at the heart of everything we do. This helps to guide us in how we interact with customers, and go the extra mile for them. This is why we're promoting agents who are succeeding at this already, and putting the customers first.
What are the common pitfalls for letting agents? 🤦♂️
We've been around a while, and we speak to our renters all the time. It's what drives our business and we're in the same boat as you, trying to find homes for renters. This also gives us an objective view and we can see some major pitfalls in the way that some agencies work. Get ready for some home truths right here!
Poor listing quality to get more leads
This happens a lot. Many agencies think that the more enquiries they get, the better! One tactic they use is to leave out some details from the online listing, so that renters have to enquire to find out more information. They then collect all the renter's information (it turns out the renter wasn't right for that property), and see it as a victory as they've added a new contact to their database!
"That one's not available anymore... but what about this one?"
Many agents don't keep their online listings up to date. This means that properties are left online, looking to renters as though they're available still, but actually they've already got an offer, or an accepted offer, or in some extreme cases... they were rented weeks ago!
One size fits all
How frustrating is it to receive emails that aren't at all interesting to you? Well some agencies make the mistake of adding all their renters to one single mailing list, and then send them an email alert every time any new property comes online. Renter is looking for a 1 bed flat in Clapham... cool, let's also email them about 2, 3, 4 and 5 beds in Islington. Sound sensible to you?
Endless phone calls
In my personal experience, I've contacted an agency about a property and had an offer accepted, then had other branches of the same agency phone me multiple times to try and get me to view another property! Aside from this being pretty annoying, it makes the agency look a little silly. Sharing customer data between branches is questionable when you consider the new GDPR, but it also leaves a negative impression on the customer. (Note how this happened to me about 8 months prior to writing this, but I still remember!!)
Forgetting the keys
One of our renter's biggest frustrations is when the agent turns up at the viewing without keys. The renter has travelled probably for an hour (you have to allow an hour to get most places in London), they turned down work drinks, or maybe even left early and annoyed their boss. We've also heard stories about agents forgetting the keys, and then attempting to show an alternative property that isn't what the renter wants at all!
Poor communication skills
Some agents are so set in their ways, that no matter how the renter contacts them, what they say, the agent will reply in the same way, via the channel that they always use. If I send an email enquiry, I'd expect a response via email. If I phone the agent and leave a message, I expect a phone call back!
We hear many stories where the agent has put a lot of pressure on the renter to make a decision right away. So often we hear agents saying "well, we have 20 viewings for this place tomorrow so if you want it you'll need to act fast!". Similarly, when attempting to renew contracts, some agents approach the renter months and months before the contract is due to end, and pressure them to re-sign, otherwise the property will have to go on the market.
Who is really nailing customer service? 😎
We'd love to hear some of your suggestions here, but for us, we have two stand out examples of pretty impressive customer service to share.
"Uber provides a great customer service. Once I booked a ride through the app to go from Gatwick airport to central London, and the estimated price for the trip was much lower than the actual one. I contacted their customer service about the issue and they refunded the difference to my account in less than a day! That’s great! Also, if you book a ride but the driver takes much longer than expected to arrive and you cancel it, you’re charged a percentage of the cost. However, if you let the customer service team know straight away, they refund the amount immediately! I think the best thing about their customer service is how quick they respond and sort out the problems. They’re a super customer-centric brand!" Serena, Marketing Executive at Movebubble
"The O2 App offers a number of ways to get in contact with their customer support. Once you’ve chosen your preferred method of communication, you’re immediately given feedback as to wait times, next steps and what to expect. In my case, I chose instant chat. The security questions are straight forward, building trust, not blocking you from what you're trying to do. Once I got through to a person(not a bot) the experience was friendly and personal. My concerns were addressed, I was given a support number for any other issues in the future and the conversation was sent to me by email for my reference and peace of mind." Simon, Head of Design at Movebubble
Check out the top 10 most customer obsessed companies on Forbes for more inspiration too, or for inspiration closer to home, we collaborated with Paramount Properties to find out more about what being customer-centric means to them, check it out.
Why is this so important ⁉️
We know that you guys get new customers connecting with you all the time, so what is the harm if some things go wrong?
Did you realise that how you treat renters, and how many new landlords you win is directly linked? Maybe you've not really thought about it before, so let's explain in a little more detail. You'll be interacting with a much larger number of renters than landlords, so this means that probably 80% of your customers are made up of renters. As a result, the majority of the customers who are interacting with you, leaving feedback and reviews, talking to their friends about their experience - are renters. Your online reputation is super important, and you need to continue to build on it. Landlords will check you out online before getting in touch, to see if you seem like a reputable agent. After all, they can learn a lot from renters feedback about how your company treat people. You can read more here about building your reputation online.
Ever heard of the Negativity Bias? You can read more about it here, but it basically means that negative thoughts, feelings and experiences stick with people more, and have a greater impact on our brains. But what does this mean for you? Well, it means that out of all the renters you interact with, the ones who have a negative experience are much more likely to share their thoughts about your agency, than the ones who have a positive experience!
Don't just take it from us 💬
To give you some more insight, here are some quotes from our renters so you can see what's frustrating them.
"I had an appointment for a viewing today at 6pm and Tom form the agency didn't come. I lost a lot of time for nothing. This is really bad. Can you please improve the service?"
"Hi, I was due to view a property at 7pm and the agent is a no show. This is in a very different area of london to where i am currently living so this is very disappointing and the estate agents is closed so the landline contact number is pointless. I have waited for 15 minutes and now I'm giving up."
"Unfortunately my experience hasn't been great. I don't understand why most/all websites leave properties up when they are no longer available. It is really disheartening when you see something you like, call up to be told, oh that was let a while ago etc....."
"I emailed 5 agents yesterday and have had no response. Another one didn’t get back to me all day after initial contact, then arranged a viewing for tomorrow and now the viewing is cancelled saying the property is gone. Typical nonsense from estate agents to be honest."
How can I get started? 👌
So, we know what makes renters unhappy, and we obviously don't want that! It's super important that you wow renters with your awesomeness, and get those positive reviews coming in, so here are some tips:
- Remove unavailable properties! Renters can see your brand advertising right next to your property, so they know who to be disappointed with.
- Make property listings comprehensive. You need to include all the details here, so that you're not wasting your own time handling enquiries from renters who will no doubt be annoyed when the property isn't right for them. Don't generate angry leads for yourself! We'd recommend that these things should be included in your core information:
- Date the property is available
- Are pets allowed in the property
- Which floor the property is on
- Minimum contract length
- Segment your customer list. Make sure that people on your mailing list actually want to hear from you, then the next step is to tailor the communications so that each email you send is relevant for the renter.
- Communicate on their terms. If the renter has contacted you via chat on the Movebubble app for example, then you should reply to them the same way! Don't just call the renter at any given time, they are busy people and are probably working!
- Be punctual and organised. Viewings are the first time many renters get to meet your brand face to face. Make a good impression, be on time or a little early, and make sure you've got everything you need - especially the keys!
- Use your knowledge to help the renter. The renter is moving home, it is a big deal for them! You know a lot about the local area and the market, so use this to help and advise the renter, not to push them into a hasty decision. Share your tips and local secrets, become their friend 😊
Do you think you're already nailing it? Why not compare your response times and ratings to our top agents in London, and see how they're using their reputation to win more enquiries from Landlords!