The claim to offer ‘great customer service’ is a popular one in the property industry. But how do you know if you are genuinely offering this? The answer is by measuring the level of service offered by your company. And yes, it is actually measurable.
Another way of thinking Many will argue that the best measure is how much repeat business an organisation enjoys. The service you offer to customers must be good if:
- you have a high level of customer recommendations or
- customers use your agency services several times.
But in these examples, it would take time for the ‘measures’ to come to fruition. A customer might sell or let a property through your agency and then not repeat this for several years. And while customers may suggest to their friends and family that they should employ your services, this can be sporadic rather than an everyday occurrence.
Consequently, using these actions as a measure of successful service takes too long. What an agency needs is another way to measure service that is more immediate. Let me introduce you to the ‘Servqual model’ or ‘Service Gap’ model. Developed by A. Parasurman, Valarie Zeithaml and Leonard L. Berry, it sggests a number of areas a company can pro-actively measure on a regular basis.
Customer Opinion The ‘Service Gap’ model allows a company to measure the gap between what a company offers and what a customer wants. The goal then is to close the gap in order to improve service. This requires feedback from customers on a regular basis in the following 5 areas:
1. Reliability: what is the consumer’s opinion of your company’s ability to perform the service they provide?
2. Assurance: how does a consumer rate the knowledge and courtesy of your company’s staff?
3. Tangibles: how does the consumer rate the appearance of the company’s assets that they can see or interact with, i.e. an office’s appearance, company cars, website, social media pages etc.?
4. Empathy: how much does the customer believe they receive a personal service that is mindful of their individual needs?
5. Responsiveness: how do customers rate the willingness of find staff to help them?
Keeping it real How can the five areas above be applied to property agency? The following are examples of possible measures (although I’m sure you’ll also have examples of your own to add):
1. Reliability Seek feedback from customers on their opinion of your: • ability to keep promises • systems and processes working as advertised and meeting customer needs • ability to follow property agency laws and codes of good practice
2. Assurance Seek feedback from customers on their opinion of your staff’s: • ability to undertake their role • knowledge of the law • people skills
3. Tangibles Seek feedback from customers on their opinion of the appearance of your: • company cars • property literature • company website
4. Empathy Seek feedback from customers on their opinion of the company’s ability to understand:
- customer needs
- how long the company’s customer service is needed • challenges that the customer may face during the property buying/letting processes
5. Responsiveness Seek feedback from customers on their opinion of the company’s ability to:
- put the customer first
- go the extra mile
- want to help resolve customer problems
Customer service cannot be ignored Offering a genuinely high level of service has never been more important for property agents than it is now. It is one of the features that customers use to differentiate one company from another. Great service will therefore directly influence an organisation’s bottom line and viability in the market place. No longer is it enough to simply promise ’great customer service’. Instead, this has to be the view of the customer and not just the opinion of the organisation.