Eddie Cetin, APAC Chairman of Reapit
Businesses the world over have always contended with one very simple, yet undeniably essential question: how do we deliver better experiences for our customers? The most successful ones have realised that effective customer experiences are not siloed but seamless, with all elements working in synchronicity to maximise the efforts of the business.
A fantastic service creates value, and going above and beyond the, should we say, ‘default’ level of service you often might come to expect from many businesses is what separates the most successful businesses from their competitors. The benefits of delivering a leading customer experience are obvious: they build brand loyalty, which results in recurring business and improved revenue generation – according to Bain and Company, businesses that excel at the customer experience grow revenues 4-8% above their market.
Seamless customer experiences are on display in some of the world’s leading brands. It’s certainly not an ethos lost on the Australian real estate market. Josh Phegan, a leading trainer, recognises McDonalds as a prime example of a business exhibiting a streamlined engine and level of service – and in this case, it all comes down to simple language that made McDonalds millions: “Would you like fries with that?” By training 14-year-old employees to ask that question, McDonalds put the daily decision-making responsibilities into their hands, helping them to deliver better customer experiences without McDonalds needing to guide them.
After the past year of COVID, many businesses including in real estate are also in the process of re-evaluating how they deliver customer experiences, with lockdowns representing an opportune time to focus on the business instead of being in the business. For some businesses this means ensuring that their core processes are established, templates are designed and ready to go, and that their branding is on point to hit the key messages to their target audiences.
Technology is undeniably a key facilitator of such experiences with integrated solutions enabling an unimpeded flow of information that all feeds one into one system to take customers on a service journey that is seamless and pain-free as possible from start to finish.
Of course, technology is only part of the parcel behind a stellar customer experience. One of the main perks of integrated tech is how it leaves more time for the user to be more ‘hands-on’ with the customer.
Direct engagement with customers and a sense of personal connection or ‘community’ is in many ways vitally important to real estate agents. Whether the customer is buying, selling, or renting a property, the process can often be stressful and complicated, and they will look to the agent as their support and guide through their journey.
There are many facets of that role that can be automated, streamlined and left to technology running behind the scenes to carry the weight of administrative tasks, but the growth of technology shouldn’t replace genuine customer interaction, which is invaluable to the customer when making such a big decision.
Nancy Porte, Vice-President of Global Customer Experience at Verint – a global leader in actionable intelligence and customer experience – highlights the value of communities as the best kept self-service secret in customer experience. And to keep things succinct, the secret is that your online customer communities often can guide you towards the solution your business requires far more quickly than if you tried to reach the answer independently.
To add to this point, a 2017 study of over 300 marketing and community leaders found that two-thirds of all communities are synchronised with their company’s CRM. This helps to provide a real-time window into the customer journey and offers a stronger directive for customer experience teams to enhance the journey for customers.
Seamless customer experiences are built on these two facets then: powerful integrated tech to manage the thousands of processes running on the back end, and personal, direct engagement with the customer to build transparency and trust that will lead them to see the value inherent in your offering – the circular nature of these relationships will also help to deliver insightful feedback that businesses can use to enhance their services in order to deliver ever improving customer experiences.
The Japanese management principle of Kaizen, meaning “continuous improvement”, really comes into play here. It has been the driving force behind some of the most successful businesses in the world, including Toyota, and can perhaps be most effectively deployed with one of the cornerstones of business – the PTT framework (People, Processes and Technology). In short, people perform a specific type of work for a business using processes, usually with the help of technology, to streamline and improve these processes.
It’s a simple methodology, but an outstandingly effective one. As Dean O’Brien of OBrien Real Estate suggests: “Find the best way to service customers with passion and innovation, then make it happen.”