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Customer Satisfaction: Nature or Nurture?

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Commentary by Margaret Kelly

RISMEDIA, April 16, 2007-You don't have to be naturally endowed with a sparkling personality to cultivate your business with grace. Most of the time, all it takes to consistently attract clients is real estate expertise and customer satisfaction. Real estate expertise comes with time, education and effort-and so does customer satisfaction.

The first step toward ensuring customer satisfaction is a survey. You don't have to use a four-page survey to learn what clients think. Create something simple, and ask them what you really want to know:

-Was the service you received what you expected?
-Were you happy with the service you received?
-What can I do better?
-Would you recommend me?
-What else would you like to tell me?

Believe me-if your clients have a bone to pick, they'll jump at the chance to let you know. And if they're thrilled, they'll appreciate the opportunity to put it in writing.
The next step is to do something about it. Create an action plan you refer to on a regular basis, and educate your team about the way you want clients-both pleased and agitated-treated.

Once you've done that, exceed their expectations. All clients have needs that go beyond the real estate transaction itself. Learn what their related needs are and go out of your way to help during the transaction period and beyond.

Finally, brag about it. That's right. Let people know you listen to them. Send mailers or put it right in your ads. Tell them your business is focused on their needs and that you're providing stronger communication, negotiation techniques and marketing strategies as a result.

Not every client can be satisfied. Why? Unrealistic expectations. Unwillingness to compromise or communicate.

Successful real estate professionals create specific systems to keep customer satisfaction their No. 1 priority. It's not about the sale. It's not about the money. It's about the people. It's about letting your clients know just how much they matter and enjoy the rewards that such focus naturally brings.

Margaret Kelly, CRB, is chief executive officer of RE/MAX International. She joined RE/MAX as a financial analyst in 1987.

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