In January 2015, we set out to deliver the best customer service that estate agency has ever seen. From training for our staff through to the processes on our website we have left no stone unturned and are constantly improving and learning as we go. We have put the customer at the very heart of what we do. Find out below just how we did it:
Perfecting Customer Service
What we've learnt
What we've done
Our Seven Steps
For more details click on one of the stages above.
What is is that people want, how do they want to be contacted, who do they want to speak to and how often? We looked at existing customer service standards within the industry and discovered where friction occurs in the process. We conducted polls, surveys and focus groups to ask the British public what they wanted from their estate agents. We looked at other industries to learn from the best of the best and bring service innovations into estate agency.
What we've learnt
We analysed everything we were told by our customers, by our buyers and studied our focus groups to find out what it all means. Take a look at this section if you want to see what people said about estate agency. Some of it isn't pretty, some of it is encouraging and there were a few things that were just a bit weird. What we did realise very early on is that the only way to deliver customer service that people want is to put the customer at the very centre of your business.
What we've done
We covered everything from phone to email to live chat. How buyers expect to be treated. We discussed internally and with customers where processes can deliver better results than people and also vice versa. Where more support is needed and where processes could be more intuitive. Using what we learned we put together our service specification based on the demands and expectations of the hundreds and thousands of people we spoke to over the course of 2015.
Our Seven Steps
It's all well and good talking a good talk but delivering consistently is the only thing that matters. We are constantly measuring our service levels using third party mystery shopping companies who will score us against our specifications. There is no such a thing as perfect customer service but we are constantly striving to improve. Our seven steps keep everyone here focused on what really matters - delivering consistently excellent service.
It's not easy to know how to improve your customer service and we realised very early on that it was our customers both past and present who held the key. So we spoke to them. At length. What they told us was eye-opening - we are incredibly grateful to everyone who gave us their time and their insights. Everyone from April, Adrian, Emmet, Jenny and all the others who were so helpful along the way. Thank you and thank you again - we couldn't have done it without you.
We spoke to our customers to find:
- Where we could improve
- What they found simple
- How our team performed
We spoke to our buyers about:
- What they want from us
- What they've seen elsewhere
- What their expectations are
We asked the general public about:
- Estate agents
- Online estate agents
- What they want from agents
Here's some of our favourite responses
2. What we've learnt
It's all well and good doing all this research but what did we really learn?! Read on and find out exactly what the hundreds and thousands of people we spoke to told us. There's graphs, pie charts, videos and more. Enjoy!
Do you want a dedicated account manager?
We asked our customers and also our leads: Do you want a dedicated account manager? The results were pretty conclusive and in line with our expectations. It's nice to be right once in a while!
Don't mind: 8%
All of our packages come with a dedicated account manager as standard
Do you want professional photos included in your package?
The results were again conclusive and vendors made special note of the quality of our listings compared to other online agents and most high street agents:
Don't know: 16%
All of our packages come with professional photography as standard. It is what people want and it ensures your property looks at its best.
Which channels would you like to use for customer service?
We communicate over the phone as our first resource then via email and are investigating live chat.
Customers are able choose how they are kept updated throughout the process.
Complaints to The Property Ombudsman by category
Communication was the single biggest cause of complaints to the Property Ombudsman in 2014 and in the 21st century when there are so many instant methods of communication we think that is a very strange position for the estate agent industry to find themselves. We focus on delivering clear and precise information in a way that can be easily understood. Nobody likes being misunderstood.
3. What we've done
Introduced a dedicated buyer management team
From mystery shopping our competition we found one major weakness was the lack of service delivered to buyers. Speaking to our buyers they were unimpressed by the idea of just letting the website run the buyer management. We listened and now have a dedicated buyer management team who are set the challenge of responding to all buyer enquiries within 15 minutes between the hours of 8.30am to 7pm.
We now offer each customer the choice of communication method
All of our customers can decide whether they would like us to communicate with them on a day to day basis by phone, email, text , or any other method they would like. If something urgent or more important comes up then we will of course be on the phone to discuss this with our clients. They know we are always here at the end of the phone if needed.
We introduced regular training and internal presentations
All of our customer facing staff are either NAEA qualified or currently taking their exams.Our customers have remarked how knowledgeable our account managers are and are very pleased with the level of advice provided. We believe investing in our staff is absolutely vital.
We have introduced weekly internal presentations where team members will present to the rest of their team about a lesson they have learned, a new practice they have seen elsewhere or just to start a discussion about how well the week has gone.
Increased investment into our user platform
Since starting the research we have increased dramatically our investment into our user platform to ensure that the functionality is as intuitive and easy to use as possible. We have made the entire website fully responsive so it can be used on phones, tablets and on screens of every size.
Introduced the Seven Steps...
1. The customer always comes first
4. Be willing to learn
5. Take responsibility
6. Embrace every moment of truth
7. The 4Ps: Patient, Polite, Punctual and Prepared
4. Our code of standards
- Take responsibility to ensure our customers come first
- Take responsibility for tasks, never pass the buck
- Make the right decision and communicate
- Support each other
- Work together to deliver for our customers
- Share knowledge, experience and ideas
- Always be willing to help
- Communicate clearly to remove ambiguity
- Ensure everyone understands what you have said
- Communicate often and don’t let things slide
- Never avoid the calls you don’t want to make – there are few things worse than not knowing and being kept in the dark.
- Respect for our customers, buyers and all home sellers
- Respect for each other, for each other’s views and for each other’s time
- Take pride in our knowledge
- Always be willing to learn and stay up to date with the latest news
- Never take a statement as fact – probe deeper
- Take your time to listen
- Be punctual
- Use time wisely
Join The Team
If all of that sounds like the kind of company you would like to work with then why not give us a call on 0203 44 12345. Alternatively we can give you a call, just leave your details in the callback form below. Thanks for taking the time to read about our customer service and just how important it is to us.