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Can service defects be measured as accurately as product defects?

service ratings

Let’s remove ourselves from the real estate world for five minutes to better consider what you do from a different perspective. You are no longer at your desk. You are in a large manufacturing warehouse where “Puppy Mugs” are made. You see the assembly line and workers running to and fro. Shiny, brightly colored coffee mugs roll out on a belt to your left with the most adorable puppy pictures printed on them. As the Owner and Production Manager, it is your job to steer the ship and keep this business on track toward growth.

The last three quarters turned you just a marginal profit. The mugs are selling, but business is not where it could be. You constantly brainstorm, thinking of ways to boost production, reduce defects, and increase profit. As you ponder, your eyes sweep the floor again watching the mugs come to life through a series of procedures and steps. Your focus stops on a man standing near the belt you observed earlier. He’s not in standard warehouse uniform, but rather a soft brown leather blazer, khaki slacks, and a nice tie.

The man gazes intently through his half-moon spectacles at the little mugs popping out onto the conveyer-belt. You don’t recognize him. Bewildered, you walk towards the man. As you draw closer, you hear him naming the dog breeds as the mugs pass him by. “Bichon, Black Labrador, Newfoundland, Golden Retriever…” A warm smile spreads as he sees you approach. Hand extended, he quickly walks up and introduces himself. “Hello there – my name is Tom. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” You greet him and share some small talk; he seems like a nice guy. But you wonder, what is he doing here on my assembly line?

You learn that Tom runs a business that for the last 15 years, has helped other manufacturers of all types reduce product defects by 66% to 80%, increase their “very satisfied” customers by 50%, and produce less waste by increasing production efficiencies. Intrigued, you let Tom finish his pitch.

He looks at you and asks, “Would it be worth half an hour of your time to learn about this system and see how others utilize it? In short order, you will gain valuable insights to substantially improve your defect ratios or have independently validated statistical proof of your superior product quality that you can share with retail buyers you are trying to engage. Not only that, but it is easy to implement and surprisingly cost effective.”

You give Tom the benefit of the doubt and proceed to the second story of your building and into your office to hear what the man in the brown blazer has to say.

Back to reality

Bring yourself back to your surroundings. As an agent or broker, what are you selling? Houses? Yes. Real Estate? Sure. So is your competitor – sometimes the exact same house… so why does a client choose to buy through you and not them? That question answers what you are really selling.

It’s your primary differentiator. Service.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a “secret recipe” like the one Tom introduced to you in the story? Determining defects in a Puppy Mug production line is easy. Accurately measuring service quality and defects in service is impossible, right? Just because it is more difficult, does not mean that it cannot be done. It requires a custom tailored tool that provides a precise measure of your service based on feedback from a pool of all actual past customers. It must be objective and simple. Only then can you measure your product assembly line, providing a “map” of where to improve your product – the service you provide.

The recipe for success

To create the map, you must find or build your own client feedback tool based on surveys specific to home buyers and sellers. Hire a research organization to ensure the survey’s scientifically designed questions target the key aspects of service and overall satisfaction. This enables you to establish and manage expectations, understand where you excel or need improvement, and why they chose you. Working with a leader in service management, like QSC (which I Co-Founded), gives you credible independent validation and options for displaying your results publicly, or keeping them private until you feel comfortable sharing your feedback.

Either way, the bottom line will benefit. Any serious research based services provider will require a paper backup to an e-mail survey process, ensuring no holes and to prevent gaming – just honest feedback that clients can trust. Avoid systems developed by “marketing” companies as they are rarely based on legitimate research principals and have a vested interest in allowing for holes and gaming.

The end result

The results Tom shared in the story are directly correlated to our company’s research from millions of surveys compared to NAR’s annual study. Agents and brokerages are able to accurately measure their service performance, reduce risk, increase lead conversion and build a complete and objective track record of service performance, especially when done through a reliable third-party service management company. A consumer will pick the agent or brokerage who demonstrates superior results consistently. How do clients discover that about you? Do something to ensure consumers can choose you based on reliable, unbiased information.

Regardless of your profession, be it producing Puppy Mugs or selling houses, product quality and good service is essential to business growth and development. Most industries already use a measuring tool to ensure the quality of their product or service. How your business ensures delivery of great service is up to you – measuring service quality in real estate is both possible and accurate, if done the right way and for the right reasons!

Written By

Kevin is a Co-Founder, President & COO of Quality Service Certification, Inc. (QSC) and earned an MBA from The University of California – Irvine. With over 20 years of Real Estate experience, his primary focus is on consumer research, developing better service management systems, and sharing the importance of consumer-centric service standards, transparency and accountability to create measurable and meaningful differentiation and long term advantage for those professionals that put customer needs first.

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