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26 June 2009

Icing on the Cake

Whether filling my gas tank at a full-service station (whatever happened to the man who squeegees the windshield?) or dining handsomely at a five-star restaurant, my service expectation does not waiver.  I’ll admit it, I’m a service snob.

I had the pleasure of dining at Scalini Fedeli in Tribeca, New York last Saturday evening.  The restaurant had been recommended by a friend so I asked around, read reviews and visited their website. Everything I heard and read piqued my interest and raised my level of anticipation for a wonderful dining experience.  As always, the real test is always in the actual experience and everyone at Scalini Fedeli lived up to my expectations and more, delivering one notch above throughout the evening.

From the first glass of champagne to the mascarpone gelato and every course between, the cuisine was the icing on the cake, an accompaniment to the style, elegance and impeccable service.

My standards are simple; I know what I want, I ask for it. If the provider cannot or does not meet my needs, I don’t return.  I’m not mean or obnoxious, I don’t make a scene, I simply take them off my radar.

Is that what happens after a real estate transaction? Do we deliver a less-than-memorable experience that results in buyers taking us off their radar?  I’d venture to say yes.  In 2008 nearly 50% of buyers worked with an agent who was referred to them.  Interestingly, only 11% worked with the same agent in their next transaction.  This very revealing statistic raises two questions.  Where did they go, and why didn’t they come back?  The answer to the first question doesn’t matter – they’re gone.  The answer to the second however, can open the door to more repeat business for real estate agents.

Buyers tells us the most important thing we can do for them is help them find the right home to purchase, which doesn’t sound like a very tall order yet home moving ranks third among the most stressful life experiences according to the Employee Relocation Council and that’s where the service experience, not merely service, comes into play.

Here are five things I would do if I was working with buyers today:

1. I would ask, not tell.  It’s about them, not you.

2.  I would work to uncover their motivation, not just their goal.

3. I would  make certain my standards of business align with their expectations.

4.  I would follow through with checkpoints and make adjustments along the way to be sure I was meeting and exceeding expectations.

5. I would think to myself, what would I do if I were getting paid 10% commission, and then deliver on that no matter what I was paid.

Finding the right home should be the icing on the cake in the service experience for buyers.

2 thoughts on “Icing on the Cake

  1. Paulette-
    While I agree with you in theory, the outcome for many agents is that they do not get paid any commission after putting in many long hours of top notch service. And if the agent does not find the right home and at the right price, there simply is no cake to ice. In this environment I believe that only those that give the proper service will be able to survive and that we need to find ways to help these agents endure the long hours, the fall throughs, and all of the disappointments that they are experiencing. Let’s hold them up and encourage them. Let’s not preach to the choir.

  2. Great notes. It really is a forgotten art of customer service. I like to think of myself as a customer service ninja. If they know that everything is taken care of, and you are communicating well along the way you have a good shot at having them return.

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