The relationship an organization has with a customer ideally transcends the sales transaction. After all, we know when we have satisfied a customer with our product or service because they have what they want. Now does that necessarily mean they will use your services or buy your product again? There is no guarantee that any customer will stay with you or your company forever, but with that very subtle blend of excellence, dedication, perseverance, and hard work, you will have created an emotional bond we call customer engagement.
Why should an organization strive for an emotional bond or a relationship that transcends the one way road when someone enters your company to purchase a product or a service? In the real estate industry, those are the customers who will recommend me to their friends and relatives, purchase from me in the future, and provide me with beneficial feedback to help me enrich and serve future customers better. It helps me to build short and long-term customer engagement which in turn helps me to turn my customers into actual ambassadors for my services. Selling someone a home isn't just about bringing up a three bedroom, two bath house with a garage and pool in Jupiter, Florida on my local multiple listing service. It's the entire process of buying a home; qualifying for financing, finding the right neighborhood, finding the right school system, proximity to required services, and the list goes on. One can't help but develop an emotional bond with clients when purchasing a home is most often the largest financial and emotional investment a family makes in their lifetime.
So here are my suggestions to help build long-term engagement:
- Be eager to serve: Be prompt and begin any customer relationship with eye-contact and a smile. From the very beginning, listen to what your customer is saying. If you listen closely, they will tell you what they want. I just worked with a couple who insisted they wanted to purchase an old farm; it didn't matter about the condition of the home. A customer wants you to bring a solution to the table, so be eager to serve them by knowing your product, being realistic, and working with customers to fulfill their total experience the best way possible.
- Work on excellence: There is a profound difference between doing a job and doing the job excellently; it just takes more time and more work. Sometimes being excellent might even cost more money, but think of the benefits when that particular customer recommends two, three, or fourteen new clients your way because of your integrity and that extra mile you ran to ensure your client you are here to serve them.
- Don't be rigid: Never say, "I can't do that." Find a solution, make a compromise, and plan for the future so you become an advocate for your client or customer. It's not always easy to see a situation through the "lens of a customer," but chances are that customer will remember your kindness, your proficiency, and how you helped to solve their problem.
- Create the total experience: Do something special for your customer. For instance, in my business, I often leave a fruit basket on the counter for my new buyers the day of their closing. Sometimes I send a gift certificate to the mall or their nearby favorite casual restaurant; it's thoughtful and people don't forget the kindness. And after the sale, I always check in with them every so often; no one tells me that I have to do that, but I'm the first person they think of when it's time to sell, buy, or recommend me to someone else.