A recent survey by an independent call answering service called Face For Business showed that now 34% of the public would prefer an online agent to the high street with 60% still going old school with the High Street. The tide is turning!
More interestingly perhaps, they also ran a survey to find out what were the most common causes for complaints. (These are very similar to the ones shown by the Property Ombudsman which year after year shows the importance of communication as seen below)
- Incorrect or unexpected fees
- Conflicting advice
- Ill informed or unhelpful staff
- Difficulties getting through to agents
- Being kept waiting on the phone
1. Incorrect or unexpected fees
This one can only be levelled at the high street. Walk into any high street agent and it will take a long time before they talk about what their service costs. As an experiment ask them why it costs more to sell a house for £400,000 than it does one for £200,000! As a comparison we are incredibly transparent with our prices and have absolutely no hidden costs and believe that our service should be the same for all of our clients. Unlike the high street agents we also include VAT in all our prices – after all you have to pay it so why not include it?!
2. Conflicting advice
This comes down to training, are your staff good enough and knowledgeable enough to deliver consistently accurate and good advice. All of our customer facing employees are NAEA qualified or taking their exams. On the high street, a junior negotiator can be paid as little as £12,000 a year. Just how qualified do you think they are? Is the estate agency likely to pay for their development when they are paying them less than the working wage?
3. Ill informed or unhelpful staff
This is similar to the problem above but the unhelpful part is really worrying. We have an internal code of conduct that we have developed over the last three years to ensure that every one of our staff no matter how long they have been with us know that the client comes first. Always. We have had zero complaints for our customer service in the last 18 months and were nominated for the Online Estate Agency of the Year award for Best Customer Service. Not just best customer service from an online agent but best out of all agents.
4. Difficulties getting through to agents
The main reason that agents are unavailable to answer the phone or to get back to clients is because they are out and about doing viewings. If an estate agent has perhaps 10 properties on their books and needs to do viewings across all of them it means they are out of the office and unavailable to help their clients. This is one of the major reasons that we do not do viewings as we want our account managers to be available for their clients at all times. It is also why clients receive their account manager’s mobile number as well.
5. Being kept waiting on the phone
There is nothing worse than switchboards and being put on hold for minutes at a time. We always answer the phone with a human, no machines here. There’s no call centre to pass you around and if the person you want to get hold of is unavailable then they will call you straight back.
Take a look at our commitment to customer service: best customer service