What Can Contact Centers Learn From Real Estate
Part 1 – Self-service Customer Services
By Chris Recio, Director of Contact Center Operations
As we continue to look at 2017 Contact Center trends, there’s one that, dare I say, is not a trend, but is fact a mandatory tool for achieving overall customer satisfaction. And it’s one that I’ve recently experienced as a customer – self-service. Self-service options are an amazing and effective way to engage with your customers and provide them the service they’re after. Keeping pace is the only way your contact center is going to maintain an edge on the competition.
The Self-Service Experience
I recently had first-hand experience with how self-service can affect customer service – two things that seem like polar opposites but are actually closely linked. You wouldn’t guess that I would have a self-service experience while making as big of a purchase as a new home, but I did.
Having heard the horror stories of the home search, the relentless demand for paperwork from the impending lender, and the seemingly never-ending tour of homes and amount of time that I would need to dedicate in finding just the right one, the process was a lot less daunting than I had anticipated. Luckily, I found just the right one, after walking through just 5 homes.
Here’s how this self-service experience played out: When I first met with my long-time friend and real estate broker, we discussed my requirements, my timelines, and my budget, as is necessary to narrow down the selection options. During our first meeting, I learned that my broker was quite savvy when it came to technology. He turned on his 60” monitor, navigated to his chosen portal and immediately began entering my outlined criteria – and voila – a list of homes that seemingly fit those guidelines were sifted from the thousands of listings in the chosen area.
My broker then gave me a tour of the application, showed me how to obtain details for chosen listings, and showed me how to print the listings – with full details – for my personal use. Then my broker set my email address, and from that point forward, I received an ongoing daily list of updates and new listings, along with the status of any home that matched my criteria in the impending area.
The best part: I didn’t meet with my broker for the next 6 months – not because I didn’t want to, but rather, I didn’t need to.
After having gained access to the portal, I viewed perhaps a hundred homes or more from afar. In doing so, I was able to classify homes by neighborhood, by features, etc. During the next 6 months, I regularly visited the locale where I was searching for a home.
However, the amount of time I spent driving through neighborhoods took me just about an hour during each visit. Because I could classify homes by neighborhood using the online portal, I was able to quickly assess whether or not a neighborhood would suit my needs in personality, character, and general demeanor.
My routine was always the same: print the listings, group them by neighborhood, and mark the listing with a red YES or NO, indicating my interest after doing a drive by of the listing. In doing so, I was able to quickly minimize my request for an actual tour of any properties I might want a closer look, and the result – I toured a total of 5 homes, but in my mind, I had found THE RIGHT ONE before stepping into that 5th home.
Having had the luxury of access to listings and the ability to self-serve and review many aspects of homes and properties on my own terms, I was able to mitigate the long and arduous task of the home search of others and “cut to the chase” in my own home search, not to mention not having to waste time in homes that neither met my criteria nor generated my personal interest.
The experience I had with my broker and the actual agent that sold me my home, was surprisingly easy and comfortable, and I walked away with an outstanding sense of customer service, and I have since referred two of my friends to the same real estate broker.
What Can we Learn from this “Standard Process” in Real Estate?
Having access to data and self-service allowed me, the customer, to use my own method of obtaining information and I was able to do quite a bit of the work before reaching out to my broker. Today, more than ever, your customers are already looking at information before contacting your contact center. The easier you make it for your customers to obtain the information or guidance they need, the easier your customer will come to you and appreciate their experience with you.
Over the next couple of weeks, I will be diving into self-service options that contact centers need to utilize to provide excellent customer service that is expected today. Make sure to follow along and learn how and why self-service isn’t just a trend – it’s a vital tool to your success.