Part 1 of a three-part series by Ron LaMee, SVP Research & Member Value, Arizona REALTORS®

Agents who have a lot of repeat or referral business have created exceptional customer experience, whether by design or by good instinct. This article examines the customer experience itself, while the next article in this series addresses how to create a positive customer experience.

What is customer experience?

Think about your last visit to a convenience store. What was your experience? Most likely, you were barely acknowledged and treated like one of a thousand customers. If you asked the clerk a question, you probably got a very basic answer. Unfortunately, this what I expect, so I tend to avoid convenience stores whenever possible.

Now think of a food venue you enjoy and visit frequently. How are you treated? You may be recognized and greeted by name. Your “usual” may already be on its way to you. If there’s any issue, you’re treated fairly. And, of course, you expect the same experience every time. That is basic “customer experience” in a nutshell.

Even traditional one-off-sales businesses like auto dealerships are dedicating a great deal of attention to customer experience. An example: my wife always gets her vehicle service done at the local Toyota dealership. The prices are good, the treatment is super-fair, and the service is always quick and convenient. Two years ago when we needed a replacement car, we did our pricing homework and went directly to that same dealership. There was no question where we would buy—the positive customer experience drew us there.

The point is, you are already providing a customer experience, whether you have thought about it or not. Does your customer experience match up with what you believe it to be? If you are reviewing or rethinking your customer experience, you should start by defining your customer.

Who are your clients?

Begin by thinking about who you are targeting for new clients; write this down and analyze it. Include the type of clients, their geographic area and some distinguishing characteristic(s). An example: “My primary clients are buyers and sellers in the North Valley and Anthem areas who are looking to either move up or simplify their current lifestyle.”

At first this might sound a little narrow, but what is it really saying? To me, it suggests that: a) you are prospecting for both buyers and sellers, b) you are knowledgeable about neighborhoods north of Cactus Road to New River and from Sun City to North Scottsdale, and c) you are comfortable working with Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers.

This particular business description sounds like one of a well-established agent or a small team. It certainly implies broad knowledge of both buyers and sellers, familiarity with a large geographic area and an understanding of the characteristics of different generations. You can see how a simple description provides useful insight into confirming or revising your customer experience.

Before moving on, look at who your clients actually were over the last two years. If they are largely part of your defined target, you are in good shape. If not, consider revising your defined target to match your actual clients’ characteristics or redirect your marketing efforts toward your target group.

This process will help you create a positive customer experience (part two in this series) and decide which technologies will be most effective for you (part three in this series).

What do your clients think about YOU?

Ask and listen. It sounds simple, but requires a little time and a lot of courage. It’s tempting to send your client a request to rate you on a site like, please don’t! During our 2016 Spring Convention, Jeff Turner, CEO of RealSatisfied asked, “Why are you giving up one of the most important communications opportunities and giving the results to someone else?”

Immediately after the closing is time to ask for a critical evaluation, not waiting on a rating from a third party. Ask how your customers felt about specific parts of the process:

  • Buyers – the search, making offers and counters, negotiation, inspection, closing, etc.
  • Sellers – the marketing, disclosure, evaluating offers, negotiation, escrow, etc.

I found this online article which offers some ideas for questions. Some email survey tools to consider are SurveyMonkey, SurveyGizmo, or KwikSurveys.

Once you have gathered this information yourself, you are in a much better position to know if asking your client for a rating is a good idea or not.

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