Happy customers?

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Too many estate agent chains don’t care to ask their customers what they think of the service they have received. Or they do ask but neither actually reads the answers nor take action based on the responses. This is a pity since happy customers after all is the best source of new business. This article shares Quedro’s knowledge when it comes to how to best measure customer satisfaction within the estate agency industry and how to use the insights to improve the business.

Net Promoter Score

In most industries, Net Promoter Score (NPS) has become the standard for how to measure customer satisfaction on a scale from -100 to 100. This video (in Swedish language) describes how NPS is calculated based on one single question: “How likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague?”. Customers that answer the question are divided into three groups “detractors”, “passives” and “ambassadors”.

The surveys should contain this question in order to measure the customer satisfaction as a number that can be compared between agents, offices and even competitors. In addition to this question, the survey should of course also contain one or several questions where the customer can write his or her reason for giving the answer and give suggestions for how the agent can improve.

Who should answer the survey

Obviously, surveys should be sent to buyers and sellers but it is also very interesting to get the opinions from sellers after valuation meetings and potential buyers after viewings.

Instead of sending the survey immediately after the valuation meeting it might be a better idea to send the survey after the seller has decided who to instruct to sell his or her home given that the seller makes up his/her mind fairly quickly. It is then possible to send different question depending on if the agent was instructed or lost to a competitor. The “lost” valuation surveys might actually be more valuable to the agents helping them to become more successful..

Surveys sent after viewings will not be answered as frequently as other surveys since the customer will then not have the same relation to the agent and then not feel as obliged to give his or her opinion. Nevertheless the answers from potential buyers can be very valuable.

How to increase the answer rate

The timing is very important to get as many answers as possible. Based on our experience, it is best to send the survey as close in time after the “trigger event” as possible. With trigger event we mean e.g. the contract meeting, the viewing, valuation meeting or the follow up after a valuation meeting.

The number of people that choose to answer the survey will also increase with 50-100% if the survey invitation is sent via SMS instead of via email to the customer. It is also recommended to send a reminder to customers who haven’t answered the survey within three days.

The important stuff

Most survey responses are never read and hence a total waste for everybody involved. This is what should happen:

  • The NPS score should be visible for the agent and office manager in their dashboard every time they log in to their main system. The NPS score should be presented together with the NPS score for the office, the chain and preferably the whole industry so that the agent can easily see how well he/she is doing compared to his/her colleagues.
  • An email should be sent to the agent, the office manager and to the relevant person in the head office when there is a customer that turns out to be a detractor. The office manager should discuss every bad survey response with the agent in order to make sure that the agent actually takes onboard the feedback in order to improve or change the behavior.
  • Someone should always call every detractor. As a matter of fact, one of the co founder and owner of one major Swedish estate agent chain had as his job to call every unsatisfied customer. It is not a wild guess that it made quite an impression when he called, presented himself and discussed what had happened.
  • In the CRM system, the survey responses should be available for everyone in the customer card if the customer has answered a survey. It should also be easy for agents and office managers to access the survey responses.
  • Customer satisfaction and how the NPS score develops over time should be a topic in every meeting where agents gets together.

What you will find

When you start to measure NPS you will find that agents that sell very few objects and hence have few survey responses will have the highest and the lowest score. This is due to the fact that every response will have a greater impact if there are few responses. It is also easier to make every customer happy if you have few customers to focus on. And if you sell many objects you will eventually have a “tricky customer” that gives a bad score even if you are the best agent and hence never get 100 in NPS value. 

But without exception, all really successful agents have well over average in NPS score even though they are very busy and meet many customers on a daily basis. They would simply not have got to where they are if they hadn’t found a way to work that generate happy customers.

It is however very common that there are a few agents in an office that have an NPS score that is significantly higher or lower than the rest. The key is to help the low performers to copy behaviour from the once that has a high NPS and to learn from the (negative) feedback in the survey responses. An agent that have low NPS and few customers should not last in the organization since he or she most probably will have a negative value contribution. The agents with high NPS that sells a lot should on the other hand be rewarded heavily since they add much more value to the organisation than the money they bring in.

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