Every significant endeavor utilizes measurements and scorekeeping to record activities and progress. The most trivial of human pursuits often involves record keeping and statistical analysis. While the sales and production side of real estate services are measured in-depth, the service and customer satisfaction side of the business enjoys less measurement, scorekeeping, and analysis than one might find associated with the performance of a neighborhood Little League team.
What does this truly say then about the importance many brokers, owners, or managers place on service delivery, customer satisfaction, consistency, and service performance?
It’s true that a few organizations do attempt to measure service performance by means of a customer satisfaction survey. Most of these programs are produced and administered internally. The surveys are sent under the company banner and the company tabulates the results.
First, when a customer is asked directly by the professional or the company for performance/satisfaction feedback, that feedback is always more positive than what is obtained by an independent, third-party asking the same questions.
This is known as the halo effect. Consumers are more diplomatic in their response to the person or company that provided the service.
Second, internal service/satisfaction assessment programs typically develop standards and objectives to validate the belief that good service is already being delivered. Thus this positively biased feedback data suits the objectives of the internal program just fine.
It’s just that measurement of those areas of service performance that sellers and buyers feel are important is not taking place.
For those more serious about customer service satisfaction and service performance assessment, there is recognition that the halo effect lessens the value of the data for internal use and that keeping score of one’s own results has less credibility externally.
Instead, they seek the objectivity and credibility that third-party validation of service assessment can provide.
Ironically, even without expert resources and objectivity, the attention that measurement brings to the organization will affect positive results and performance improvement. This phenomenon is known as the Hawthorne effect.
The effect was first noticed in the Hawthorne plant of Western Electric. Production increased not as a consequence of actual changes in working conditions introduced by the plant’s management, but because management demonstrated interest in such improvements.
Unfortunately, this phase of initial improvement is not sustainable. Sustaining improvement requires more than measurement and leadership interest. Action steps that result in the actual improvement of the situation must follow the collection of data.
Measuring service results and satisfaction in the real estate organization is an important first step. It will certainly gain the attention of the organization and send a serious signal.
Sustaining organizational interest and performance improvement requires more. It requires systematic and timely feedback, objectivity, systems and service delivery processes, coaching, and recognition/awards. But it really all does start by keeping score.