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Required Call Back Times?

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What do you do?

Since pterodactyls began using phones to cold call mastodons during dinner back in the day, businesses have used the old school technology called “the telephone,” remember that old toy?

And since cave men began blogging back in the day, hundreds, maybe thousands of articles have been written about poor phone etiquette.

Since you’ve likely pondered how you treat the phone in this era of fast paced business, what do you do?

  • Do you as a broker (or does your broker) require agents to call clients back in a specified time window?
  • How do you convey to clients your promise to call back?
  • How soon do you promise to call back?
  • Who calls clients back- you or your assistant?

Tell us about your attitude toward calling people back.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Diane Guercio

    August 16, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    I can tell you that it is important to call back right away. Once I had a call that I received in the evening, and returned it the next day. By then, the caller had already signed on with another agent.

    That was a hard lesson. Maybe that caller would have been difficult and demanding, but I would like to have been the one to make the decision to continue the relationship.

    My brokers have never required immediate callbacks, and I had a mentor once who required me to return all calls at two set times during the day. Frankly? I don’t think that was good advice. People are used to immediate responses on an initial call for information. I think a compromise may be using your cell to screen so that you aren’t spending all day responding to spam calls and salespeople, and make it your goal to return calls before a new potential client can dial that next agent’s number.

  2. rob aubrey

    August 16, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    I am not sure if you are referring to clients as a prospect or some other form of an inquiry.

    * Do you as a broker (or does your broker) require agents to call clients back in a specified time window?
    My brokerage does not have a written policy for either.

    * How do you convey to clients your promise to call back?
    If it is a client Seller’s we have a scheduled written report and a weekly call, We respond to non essential calls on our weekly call. We call others immediately, if an admin can handle it they will, if not I will get on the phone immediately.

    * How soon do you promise to call back?
    See above

    * Who calls clients back- you or your assistant?
    See above

    Buyer clients are different, we are usually in some form of constant communication as we narrow down properties schedule showings…

    Typically it is the agent communicating with the buyer till their is a purchase contract then their is scheduling items that are dealt with by an admin, however all negotiations are done with the agent.

  3. Kye Grace

    August 16, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    I aim for within 3 hours of receiving the message at the absolute worst.

    Of course my true goal is to call as close to the time they left the message as possible.

    Had a similar situation to Dianne just the other night.

    Was at a function where it just wasn’t appropriate to answer the phone so I let it go to voice mail.

    It was about 8pm and someone was calling to get more information about a property they saw on my site (which actually isn’t on my site strangely enough).

    Before I could excuse myself to return the call they called again, so I found the quietest spot and answered this time.

    This time she was inquiring about two other properties she had found on my site.

    I explained I was at a function and didn’t have access to the information handy but as soon as I left I would look into the properties and call her back, likely in the next 90 minutes. She seemed content with this.

    I left at about 9:45pm and from the car pulled up the properties and called back. I got voice mail, left a message.

    Tried again the next day at noon, voice mail again, left a message.

    That was Thursday night, haven’t back from her.

    My assumption is the Google found her a Realtor who could get her what she needed right then and there, making me redundant.

    Point being…not only do they want to be called back pronto, they want to the information they are calling about equally pronto.

    Creates a new challenge that I am intrigued to solve.

  4. Vicki Moore

    August 16, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    I don’t know if my broker requires it. I’d imagine he prefer we call back quickly. 🙂

    * How do you convey to clients your promise to call back? I just do it.

    * How soon do you promise to call back?
    I don’t promise. But I call back right away unless I’m in the middle of something. That’s why I never get a day off – maybe I should change my answer to the Q below. Hmm.

    * Who calls clients back- you or your assistant? That would be me – and I do let the clients know that – they won’t be shuffled off.

  5. Karen Frederick

    August 16, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    I always try to answer my phone. If it goes to voice mail they will hear…and I WILL call you back. If it’s an existing client they’re logged in my phone already so I answer if I can. They’ve already been told that the only time I won’t answer is when I’m with another client on a scheduled appointment (wouldn’t they expect the same courtesy?) and that I will call them back as soon as I can. They also know I won’t answer after 9 pm.

    I also have weekly scheduled contacts with my sellers and I stay in contact at least every other day with my buyers usually via email and text messages (they prefer this because they can check when they have time or at work without it being noticed).

    My broker doesn’t have a policy and I don’t have an assistant. I know answering my phone and returning calls promptly has gotten me quite a bit of business. I’ve heard “oh, I didn’t expect an answer and was prepared to leave a message” and “you know I called ‘3,4,5’ other agents and you are the only one that called me back?” more times than I care to admit. Good for me, but I find it sad that their expectations are so low.

  6. Russell Shaw

    August 16, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    I once had a buyer agent cheerfully explain to me that she always tried to call everyone back within 48 hours. This was her idea of a prompt return call. I explained to her that the correct time frame – under the very worst conditions – would be within an hour or two.

    The fact is that *nothing* is as important as the SPEED of that first return call. This is so true from my point of view that even when the person who is going to be the one to call them can not call them right away, someone else in the office will call that person to let them know we’ve received their message and they will be getting a return call and when they can expect it.

    The single most frequent complaint I hear about agents (both from the public and other agents) is they won’t return phone calls. This, more than any other factor, is the “big thing” – as it just comes across as insulting.

  7. Matthew Hardy

    August 16, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    To me the focus is priority of communication with the target being exceeding expectations. Pick the right expectations and communicate them well and clients should remain happy.

    > call clients back in a specified time window?

    Of course. 30 minutes should be enough to extract one’s self from most situations during communicated availability hours; optional level-of-service agreements can stipulate otherwise.

    > How do you convey to clients your promise to call back? How soon do you promise to call back?

    Via busy recording; 30 minutes.

    > Who calls clients back- you or your assistant?

    This is a matter of call content, fiduciary relation and assistant competency. Many in-demand, highly-skilled people always communicate through assistants unless there is specific need or desire to speak directly. Real estate agency can be considered as a matter of time and expertise, with a rising level of expertise corresponding to less required time from the expert directly, whenever possible.

    > Tell us about your attitude toward calling people back.

    Where company is involved, structures must be in place to return every call. From my personal business perspective, I view incoming calls based on my availability with consideration to origination; clients and prospective clients having preference. I prefer, and mainly achieve, scheduling all my calls; just as I do with face-to-face meetings. Being discriminatory here is a good thing as you’re looking for a fulcrum between exceeding expectation and managing your time/income purpose.

  8. Jim Gatos

    August 16, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Years ago, I made it an issue to return calls promptly. None of this lame “I normally return calls at 11 am and 4:17 pm” crap that I sometimes hear. When I get a voice recording like that, especially from another agent, I hang up and move on if I can help it. I honestly don’t know who came up with that idea and I know it’s even being taught by a couple of real estate coaching companies and trainers, but I personally think it’s insulting and demeaning. What if MY times are 10:18 am and 3:24 pm? What do we do now? Never communicate?

  9. Bryan Myers

    August 17, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    I don’t follow rigid rules. Bottom line is I need to prioritize those call backs along with everything else and it’s more important for me to deliver what I promise. So here is what I do:

    1) I plan out every day and every day I set my voicemail to tell people what to expect for that day. What I’m doing, when I’m doing call backs, etc.

    2) I meet or exceed what’s on my voicemail.

    For my brokerage I don’t set rules. They are all good agents who don’t need them.

  10. Ken Brand

    August 17, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    1. It’s expected that our Icons return their calls responsibly. We don’t have rule or specific timeframe.

    2. Most VM messages are recorded stating that the agent will call back ASAP. A few state the times they return their calls.

    3. I personally don’t make a promise. I return my calls responsibly, which means it depends on the urgency of the call.

    4. I personally return all my calls.

    Unreturned calls is a plague.

    I hear daily stories from our team about MIA agents daily (They show up promptly at closing or pick up checks though.)

    I believe the root of evil lies in the brains and attitudes of the Broker/Leaders. If leadership expects professional action and response, it happens, if they don’t give a crap, then crappy agents buzz around them like flies.

    My 2 cents. I mean really, how hard is it to dial 10 freaking digits.

  11. Joe Loomer

    August 18, 2009 at 7:28 am

    Depends on who’s calling and what for.

    Most of the time, it’s the same as Russell and Ken – promptly and personally.

    Prompt is key – it’s like internet leads – if you don’t respond quickly (and call the number they provide if they do), they’ve already moved on to another real estate website. Same for most phone calls.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  12. Ricardo Bueno

    August 20, 2009 at 4:28 am

    In my personal opinion, the sooner you call back, the better! Literally. The more minutes go by, the lower the percentage of them answering the phone and working with you upon that follow up call. Unless of course they were personally referred to you by someone. Then you have a slightly better chance (again, slightly).

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