Buying and selling a home is a process that few customers are likely to forget, for better or worse. It is for that reason that customer retention is vitally important for agents looking to maximise their revenue streams. According to the Pareto Principle, 20% of your customers represent 80% of your sales, and according to a study by Bain & Company, increasing customer retention by just 5% boosts profits by 25% to 95%. So, it’s more than worth it to also invest in the retention stage of business. Especially as PwC research found that 60% of all consumers said they’d stop doing business with a brand if the service they received was not friendly.
The revolutionised consumer involved in the emotive decision to buy or sell a house is even more likely to disengage with agencies that give a poor customer service, or to go to a competitor in future if they are dissatisfied with your service. Our final blog offers some strategies for retaining your customers, with several tips to keep your customers happy throughout their journey with your agency, and beyond, so that they may become repeat customers or lead to referrals in the years that follow.
More insights are available in Reapit Agentbox’s report on the Consumer (R)evolution: how to attract, engage and retain the 2021 consumer.
1. Maintain trust with good service and transparency
Trust is the cornerstone of any good relationship, and it is key to customer retention. According to HubSpot, 93% of customers are more likely to be repeat customers at companies with excellent customer service.” Today’s most successful agents know that delivering a good customer experience will likely mean more opportunities for repeat business down the line.
The economist Theodore Levitt wrote: “The purpose of any business is to create and keep a customer”. The revolutionised consumer holds trust in high regard and when it comes to their property purchase or sale, if you lose their trust then you will almost certainly lose their business. So, what can you do to keep customers?
Honesty and transparency are the most important values here. Your relationship will be short-lived if the consumer has a perceived sense of dishonesty at any stage of the transaction. The revolutionised consumer is informed and smart and will almost certainly discover inconsistencies. Yet often it’s not actual dishonesty but rather the appearance of dishonesty that leaves a reputation in tatters. For example, a lack of transparency and accessibility, so easily caused by poor admin practices, can easily be misunderstood as dishonesty or at the least create a sense of unease with the client. Transparent, automated processes and self-service tools will go a long way to avoid negative perceptions.
Along with transparency, the more value you offer the more likely the customer will stick with you and refer you to friends and family. This can involve sending useful and informative content that is optimised to their interests, such as market information, and articles from property experts to help inform their decision making.
2. Be responsive and provide support
A widely cited study from the Rockefeller Corporation found that 68% of customers leave because they believe the business does not care about them. A good customer experience is built around communication and being available to your customers when they need you. Buying and selling a home is stressful enough and regular contact is essential for ensuring your customer remains with you.
For the revolutionised consumer this is something which has become even more important over the past year, particularly when support is required. Many consumers adjusted their mindsets to customer service over the course of the pandemic, expecting more from the businesses they engaged with. Responding quickly to your customers when they contact you and keeping them in the loop about any developments in their transaction will help to maintain trust and retain the customer even after business in concluded. If your agents are using CRM software, they can set reminders and notes about key milestones or updates so that they know both when to contact the customer, and what needs to be shared.
3. Be open to feedback
Despite the very best of intentions, it goes without saying that it is not always possible to provide a perfect customer experience. Sometimes things go wrong or there are areas the customer identifies that can be improved. Being open to feedback gives you the opportunity to respond, resolve the crisis and recycle the learnings from it into your business model – these might come whilst a customer is active with your agency, giving you the opportunity to retain them as a customer, or it may come after they’ve left following a bad experience.
Consider American Express as an example – the corporation transformed its approach from treating customer service as a cost centre into an opportunity to build customer relationships. As a result, they began to truly understand customer needs and these efforts quickly led to a 400% increase in customer retention.
The revolutionised consumer values credibility and will be keen to share their thoughts and feelings with you about your performance. Being open to your customer about any feedback they might have will help your agents to improve their service. Sending out customer satisfaction questionnaires, or better yet, utilising customer feedback tools to track trends by either the customer or the individual, will help you collect valuable data that can help you identify and address issues as early as possible which will help prevent customers from leaving in the first place.
4. Stay in contact after a transaction is complete
Retaining a customer once the business has concluded often comes down to how you maintain communication even when there is no immediate gain to be had from it. The revolutionised consumer will appreciate that you are taking the time to check in with them, and this feeds into the inclusive customer service that consumers today are looking for. Even if a former customer is not currently in the market to buy or sell, they might know someone who is – According to Invesp, referral marketing generates 3-5x higher conversion rates than any other channel.
There are numerous opportunities to connect post-transaction, and a follow-up after your customer had moved in is a powerful one – it shows that you care about their experience and presents the opportunity to address any remaining concerns that may otherwise have popped up as an unwanted Google review. Establishing a regular communication schedule with your customers by setting automated reminders will help keep your agency top of mind when the time comes for them to buy, sell, or rent again.
5. Train your staff and treat them well
Our final customer retention tip is not about the consumer but rather the employee. Great customer experiences are built on the back of well-trained and empathetic employees who are both equipped and keen to deliver a fantastic service for their customers. The revolutionised consumer values a human interaction that is authentic, honest, and open, and when it comes to customer retention this is vital as according to PwC, nearly 64% of consumers in their survey said that a bad employee attitude would greatly influence their decision to disengage from a brand.
Remember that whilst customers might generate the revenue, it is the employees that drive the experience. This is something which has taken on particular prominence over the past year – a 2021 special report from the global public relations and marketing consultancy firm Edelman found that 40% of employees surveyed believe they are the most important stakeholder in a company’s long-term success, with the customer following at 34%. This is a significant shift over the pre-pandemic era in January 2020 when the customer was still considered the most important stakeholder at 40%, with the employee closely behind at 37%.
Training employees empowers them to deliver a better service for customers but incentivising them to provide a good experience will create an overall culture of empowerment at your agency. A focus on technology training will help your agents become more efficient but at the end of the day, tech is only an enabler of good customer experiences. The revolutionised consumer will especially appreciate agents who are positive in their interactions, and that works best when their employer takes care of them. Happy employees provide a better service and that leads to satisfied customers – as Warren Buffet, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway can attest:
“Any business that has delighted customers has a sales force out there. You don’t have to pay them, you don’t see them, but they’re talking to people all the time.”
Interested in more insights on how consumers have changed? Download your free copy of Reapit Agentbox’s report on the Consumer (R)evolution: how to attract, engage and retain the 2021 consumer.