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Customer satisfaction feedback is more than data, it should stir up change

(BROKERAGE) How you collect feedback can determine whether your service actually improves or not. #science

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Woman looking at laptop reading customer satisfaction surveys.

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 effect 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 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.

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.

Real Estate Brokerage

How to scout, secure, and supervise a team of true all-stars

(BROKERAGE) Building a team can be hard, especially building a team of all stars. Here are a few tips to make the process seamless.

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assertive broker meeting negotiation team

A good way to win? Play as a team. The best way to keep winning? Build an awesome team. There’s strength in numbers, even for the best broker — but that doesn’t mean you can just throw together a few qualified realtors and expect sales to double.

According to a recent survey by Bain & Company, the majority of senior executives form teams based on whoever is available rather than scouting the best talent for the job. Sure, the first method is easier, but it’s also 25% less productive.

As a broker, you can’t rely on your best guy to carry the firm’s success.

Realtors can come and go as they please.

If your best guy/gal decides to jump ship, they could leave your whole brokerage, for lack of a better word, screwed. You need all your guys to be your best guy. Keep these important tips in mind when building your real estate team.

Potential is great, but performance is what moves the needle. When interviewing candidates, seek out those who are not only experts, but who are also energetic, driven, and enjoy working in teams.

In most organizations, one in seven employees is a star.

When seven in seven are stars, productivity increases exponentially.

Everyone from your admin assistant to your coordinators to your agents should be passionate about their work and focused on success. All too often, firms hire “good enough” people in the interest of time, assuming things will come out in the wash thanks to one or two awesome agents.

But here’s the thing: a balanced team isn’t an all-star team.

It might stay afloat, but it won’t pick up speed.

Chances are the agents on your team know how good they are, and that means they also know their talents would be valued elsewhere — possibly with a competing broker. It’s your job to give them incentive to stay onboard.

Acknowledge achievements by awarding leadership roles to standout individuals so they know they’re a crucial part of the firm. Meet regularly with each team member to go over any issues or highlights they’ve experienced and identify any themes that may be emerging within the team as a whole.

Make encouraging and motivating one another an integral part of your team’s interactions.

They should be competing against themselves, not each other.

Make team performance a major determinant for compensation and promotion rather than strictly rewarding individual performance. This way the whole team will strive to help each other be at the top of their game every day. This also helps keep egos in check, which is necessary in all-star teams: when everyone’s the best at what they do, they’re bound to get a little cocky sometimes.

There’s no perfect formula for managing a real estate team. As you hire and train employees, keep your standards high and your mission focused.

Do this, and you won’t have to search for the best; the best will come to you.

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Real Estate Brokerage

Realtors in this state are at risk of losing independent contractor status

(BROKERAGE) Realtors in NJ are being threatened to have their independent contractor status revoked. What this means for the industry going forward.

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New Jersey where Realtors are at risk of losing independent contractor status.

Independent contracting comes with its pros and cons. The major pros are choosing a self-supporting career that doesn’t hold you to a specific time limit, how many hours to work in a period, being liable or loyal to your sole employer, and so on so forth. There’s a lot of autonomy in being an independent contractor and many, both in and out of the real estate industry, have chosen this path in recent years.

However, due to its newfound popularity, independent contractor status has come under fire in the past few years. Most notably was the controversial California legislation, AB-5, which some say devastated the freelance industry in the state. The latest issues over independent contractor status comes from New Jersey, in which a bill was introduced to protect the status of real estate agents as independent contractors. The legislation, A6206, was introduced in December 2021 and passed in both Houses in just two months. A6206 “Codifies right of real estate broker-salespersons and salespersons to define the relationship with the broker as one between broker and independent contractor or employee and enforces current and previous written agreements addressing relationship.”

Will A6206 pass?

A6206 is waiting for the governor to sign it to finalize the legislation. The New Jersey REALTORS® association asked real estate agents across the state to contact the governor to sign the bill. As the bill passed the Senate with governor’s recommendations, it may have been simply a formality. The bill passed unanimously through the State Senate and the State Assembly, but many professional organizations suggested that real estate agents let the governor know they supported the bill.

What this means for the future

According to the NAR, new federal and state legislation threatens IC status, especially that of real estate agents, which is a bedrock in the industry. The federal government is very interested in workers’ classifications, as it has direct implications on taxes. To that end, many states are now looking at workers’ classification and attempting to push through legislation to protect workers. Real estate agents need to be aware of the issue to ensure that their rights to continue to work as independent contractors aren’t taken away.

This could be a sign of things to come across the board. NJ is up against a huge fight, so watch your own state’s legislation closely and if you feel strongly on the matter, don’t be afraid to call your state representative and let them know your thoughts.

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Real Estate Brokerage

The top 5 myths about starting your own business, BUSTED!

(BROKERAGE) Growing your company based on success stories of others can lead to some common misperceptions, don’t believe the myths you hear!

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desk office scheduling myths

We’ve all seen the dramatic tales of college kids chugging Red Bull, coding a site, and becoming billionaires, and we’ve heard a myths about companies that went from idea to fame in mere weeks, but the truth is that those are exceptions to the normal business rules. We’re all familiar with the success stories of entrepreneurs that were perfectionists and filled with passion.

These exciting stories often become the basis of comparison for many professionals and entrepreneurs, and risks are taken and avoided based on the success journeys of predecessors. So what are the most common myths surrounding how to grow a company?

We asked Himanshu Sareen, CEO at global technology consulting firm, Icreon Tech, Inc. to dispel these myths. Below, in his own words are the 5 most common myths about growing a company:

Myth #1: take every project that comes your way

Although ambition is crucial for growth, it can also be a downfall. For a great deal of up-and-coming businesses, it is fairly easy to bite off more than one can chew. Landing an international Fortune 500 client may seem like the turn-key solution to grow a business, but use caution. The same goes for contracts with monetary value that is below a certain threshold.

While small in size, such projects can quickly take up valuable time and resources.

Remain practical and focus on what is feasible in terms of the organization’s bandwidth. If a business dives in too deep, they may very well find themselves out of their league. My best advice would be to choose projects with a sustainable long-term vision in mind.

Myth #2: ignore culture, it can wait

Holding off on establishing a solidified company culture can equate to significant obstacles down the road. As a company grows and adds on members there is less and less time to focus on establishing a company culture. By focusing on culture, meaning the attitudes, expectations, and environment of a company, a business can better position itself for growth down the road.

And don’t just think about ping-pong tables and trendy branded T-shirts.

As a business grows, founding members are the arbiters of culture. Such critical players are the ones in place that are in charge of approving new hires, and they should live and breathe the essence of the team.

When a business places culture on the back-burner, the major impediment that results rests in the hiring area. Without a team that melds and collaborates effectively, growth is guaranteed to be stymied.

Myth #3: don’t sell until the product is perfect

Maintaining the delicate balance between expanding the sales pipeline while simultaneously building the logistical capacity to deliver, is a constant struggle. There is a pervasive mindset to refine until perfection before heading to market. Although such caution is warranted, focus on a parallel approach to aggressive growth and delivery. Rather than holding off on sales and revenue growth while a product or service is refined, a business should drive forward and build as much as possible.

Although growing and simultaneously expanding to compensate is a challenge, it is preferable to go through the cyclical phases of focusing solely on sales and re-adjusting to attend to growth. The temptation to yo-yo between the two can severely hamper expansion. Such an approach can easily kill positive momentum. There needs to be a constant and vigilant parallel focus on gaining new business and building the resources to deliver.

Myth #4: there is no room for bad decisions

Experimentation is the key to innovating. And with any experiment, there is a chance of failure. But do not fear failure. Although it is a played-out quote, failure is one of the greatest teachers in life. Facebook famously centers their operations on the mantra of ‘Move Fast and Break Things’. Making mistakes is a vital part of the process needed for growth.

Businesses can only expand by stepping outside of the comfort zone.

Expansion requires delving into emerging markets, executing new marketing campaigns, or taking a chance on ‘outside the box’ hiring prospects. Although failure may occur, it should not prevent valuable experimentation.

Myth #5: credentials are everything

While top-tier graduates and stellar resumes may seem like the secret weapon for success, credentials are not the only qualifier for greatness. Often times the qualities of a high-performance rockstar cannot be properly communicated through a resume or cover letter. In-person communication and personality are critical. Flexibility, communication, and work ethic are what you need as a smaller company pursuing growth.

In some instances, focusing too heavily on credentials can end up turning you into the 2008 New York Yankees. This also ties back to the importance of establishing culture from the outset. With an established culture, a business will be able to attract the valuable team members needed to truly meld with the team.

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