April 17, 2016
There will inevitably come a time in your Real Estate career when a client has very strong opinions about what they want and don't want, and it can come off as negative. Which may be a good sign; after all, you're helping them make a very important decision!
But while you may think this is game over for your working relationship, it doesn't have to be. In fact, taking criticism and turning it on its head so you establish yourself as an understanding and reliable professional will actually strengthen your relationship. It may not sound easy, but with the right approach you won't have to worry about a negative review or sour memory again. Take control of all types of business relationships by healing bruises most effectively.
Based on our experiences taking and responding to plenty of feedback and criticism, we've broken down the art of building a relationship based on criticism into 4 steps. You probably are already incorporating these steps into your everyday relationships but how often do you shut down when a client gives you negative criticism?
It's too easy to take it and let it ruin a potentially great business relationship. And at the end of the day, 91% of customers who have had a bad experience will not willingly do business with you again. So, what can you do to take that 'bad experience' and turn it on its head into a positive, if not excellent relationship with your client?
As a member of the Customer Success Team at Contactually, I sometimes speak to users who want something different from what we offer, and they aren't afraid to let me know. Now, because I care deeply about our solution and my teammates who built it, it's hard not to get defensive right off the bat.
But I've learned a very important lesson - when people have a strong opinion, they want to be heard, and the best thing to do is to let them talk for as long as they need, and actually listen. Being available to listen to their feedback is the first step in creating an open and trusting environment.
When you truly hear a client out, you learn a lot more about their needs and wants, and are more easily able to step into their shoes. Not only do you, the Realtor, learn more about your client, your client will start to see you as a real partner, not just as someone they've hired. Even if I initially don't have the answer or resolution they're looking for, my customers are always grateful that I am open to listening to what they have to say without interrupting.
[caption id="attachment_7175" align="aligncenter" width="550"] The benefits of a positive customer experience via MindTouch[/caption]
We talk a lot about the elements of a good working relationship at Contactually, and the one that always stands out to me is trust. The best way I've learned to establish trust with someone I'm working with is to show that I'm on their side, and that our goals are completely aligned.
This is especially true in a professional services industry like Real Estate. You, the professional, is only as successful and satisfied as your client is at the end of the day. But when a customer is in doubt, that trust may begin to waiver.
Cue the importance of being an advocate. If you reassure your client that you are completely on their side and want the exact same outcome they do, not only will it boost your credibility, but the client's trust in you and your relationship will be restored. Their perception of you will change drastically just with your reassuring language.
Phrases like "I'm completely on your side," "You're absolutely right," and "I'm committed to giving you a better outcome" work wonders in establishing yourself as a Relationship Master. Think about it, it is a lot harder to get upset at someone who's with you rather than against you. Advocating for the client will always be the biggest and strongest bandaid for your professional relationships, no matter what. And it all starts with your messaging!
The whole "being an advocate" thing may seem a bit obvious to you, dear readers. So here is where you can stand out from the crowd and put your relationship first... When a client criticizes something you've done or a property you've shown them, don't ignore them. What I mean by that is, don't just make a note that they were upset and give an artificial response.
The most beneficial thing you can do for your relationship is to do your research, understand what went wrong, and seek out the best alternatives or corrections. Putting in your due diligence will not just be educational for you, but will allow you to be more empathetic towards your clients.
Even if you know there is no alternative or way to completely correct the situation, prove that you made the effort. Keeping the client up to speed on everything you're doing will earn their trust, and ultimately lay the foundation for a stronger relationship in the future.
So you've done your due diligence, listened to your client, and reassured them you're completely on their side. Where do you go from here? Here at Contactually, we know that the only way to maintain (and grow!) a professional relationship is if you continually add value to the client's life long after you actively work together. So what if there was a bump in the road? The more consistently you engage with a past customer in a way that centers around their interests, the more quickly you strengthen the relationship.
Sure, you can mention what went wrong, but don't make that the focal point of your relationship. There is always more to a person or a relationship than one criticism. And remember, always putting context around your follow up and personalizing your outreach establishes, I'll say it again, trust. I like calling this following up "The Contactually Way" - always being timely, relevant, and personal. And once this type of communication becomes the foundation of your relationship, you're far more likely to get referrals and repeat business from that customer.
I've always liked the phrase "Real Estate is a contact sport." After working with countless Realtors, it's clear to see that relationships are everything, but there has to be a strategy, especially when something goes wrong. Being in a profession built upon relationships is extremely rewarding, but it's not always smooth sailing. However, any negative experience will be water under the bridge with the right approach.
In my 14 months at Contactually, I've seen skeptics become raving fans with the right amount of time and patience. Turning an unsatisfied client into a champion is the mark of a smart business person, a loyal partner, and a relationship master.