“Talk Isn’t Cheap, It’s Priceless!”

“What’s Your Customer Service KRI rating?”

Wikipedia defines “customer service as the provision of service to customers before, during, and after a purchase.

Therefore customer service is, a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction, that a product or service has met that customer’s expectation.”

Its importance varies by product, industry and customer; defective or broken products can just be exchanged, often only with a receipt within a certain amount of time. Retail stores often have a desk or counter devoted to dealing with returns, exchanges and complaint issues.

But how about what the customer feels? We are no longer in a “local” world, where our words and actions are only seen or heard by just the people in our “little neck of the woods”. Hundreds of web sites are out there for the customer to “air their dirty laundry” and voice their opinions” about literally everything.

And social media web sites have opened a whole new venue to let people know, “the good, the bad, and the ugly” and unfortunately, most times it is about the “ugly or negative aspects” of their experiences that people look for most! Have you seen what people are talking about on FaceBook, MySpace, or Twitter?! Can you imagine someone talking about you and your property?

There are many ways of measuring our customer’s satisfaction through surveys, phone calls, or in person conversations when we see them. But to ensure that we have focused our attention on the right areas, we can measure our efforts by utilizing and evaluating certain Key Result Indicators or KRIs to evaluate our efforts.

These KRIs are paramount to any successful business today, but never more important than with today’s economy, ever increasing competition and our customer‘s expectation, which continue to grow and change as lifestyles change.

KRIs have a direct impact on the bottom line of our cash flow and growth of our business and unlike many other businesses, many times the money lost in our business is literally money lost out of our own pockets!

Although there can be numerous, meaningful KRIs, the challenge is to select a few of the most influential areas which reflect your specific strategy of what you need to know in order to run your property  successfully and  profitably.

The focus must then be on those KRIs, which will deliver the most value to your business and done in such a way that you and /or your staff sincerely believe that they can make a difference with this effort.

One of the most important aspects of a customer service KRI is that of what is often referred to as the “Feel Good Factor“.  Basically the goal is to not only help the customer have a good experience, but to offer them an experience that exceeds their expectations.

When products, price, and service are basically the same, today’s customer is focused more on “how they are treated” and “what was their experience” with those whom they meet either on the phone or in person.

The roadmaps for our customer’s experience are the KRI s as follows:

BEFORE The Sale: Watch your competition and observe what they are focusing on:

Understand what your competition is doing so you may be prepared to answer what your prospective customer might ask. Anticipate those challenges and build the solutions in your sales approach.

Examine your competitors’ “catch phrases” such as “$99 Moves You In!”, or “No Deposit Required! ” Remember your customer can be swayed by these catch phrases by fulfilling their monetary needs. But what about the “real value” of their apartment home?

So what’s your slogan or catch phrase? What do you want your customer to remember about your property?  How will your customer benefit and feel about choosing your company or property over your competition?

DURING The Sale:

Treat customers as if YOU were the customer! That first impression is a powerful indicator of just how professional you, your staff, and your business are. People perform best and deliver the best customer service, when they like what they do. Trust is a big part of the sale.

Knowledge of all aspects of your business products and services adds value to your customer’s decision to rent with you.

Verifying your customers concerns of …

Fair & Comparable Pricing: Compared to other communities

Perceptional Value: Getting their monies worth for the product and services

Product Quality: A place they feel comfortable and environment is “homey”

User Friendly: Systems of accessibility such as resident portals, for rent payments and service requests, etc .

Would I Refer To My Friends?: Is their experience worth telling others?

Meets My Expectations?: Not overpaying for my current housing needs

Most of the communication that we relay to others is done through body language. If we have a negative body language when we interact with our customers, it can show in our lack of care.

Two of the most important parts of positive body language are smiling and eye contact. Make sure to look your customers in the eye. It shows that we are listening to them, not at them. And then of course smiling is just more inviting than the “deer in the headlights” look of …. “Well I don’t know what to tell you…”.

AFTER The Sale:

Nothing surprises your customer more than someone going the extra mile to help them. Always look for ways to serve your customer more than they expected.

Thank you note, follow up emails, coupons for dinner or movie, gas gift cards…all these are “unexpected pleasant surprises” that make a difference in that all powerful “exceeding the customer expectation”. In doing so it helps them to know that you do care and it will leave them with the “Feel Good Feeling” that we are searching for.

Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises Your Customers Don’t Care How Much You Know, until they Know, How Much You Care!”

Let’s look at it from the customer’s point of view by asking the following questions…. True or False?

  1. 1. The first step toward improving your current level of service quality is to find out where the problems are. TRUE. How can you improve on something you really don’t know the “true answer”?  It’s like the old adage; “You can’t fix it if you don’t know it’s broken”. This is why we should be asking the customer every time we see them “How is everything going in your apartment home? Is everything working properly??
  1. When it comes to your on site staff, knowledge is more important than customer service skills. FALSE. Although knowledge is VERY important when selling apartment homes in the first place, maintaining the customer’s trust and keeping a good “relationship” with sincere, caring customer service skills wins out in the long run.
  1. 3. Most customers don’t care about your staff’s appearance; they just want their problems solved. FALSE. The psychological perspective a customer has begins with how they “perceive” the staff’s ability to do their job well. Dressing professionally enhances that confidence and respect level a customer has with the staff as a professional, which in turn affects their “trust” level in that staff member. Some companies have decided “career apparel” gives them that professional edge.

Proactively soliciting for your customer’s input, having good communication systems in place, quick response times to the customers’ problems, sincerity, patience, appreciation of diversity, and understanding, from everyone who serves your customer, all affect you KRI rating.

So remember to give every customer your very best every time! You just never know who that next person might be; it just might be YOUR Undercover Boss and how would that experience play out on national television tonight?

Don’t miss Jackie’s show on MproTV!

Multifamily TV

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:

“Jackie Ramstedt, CAPS, CAM, CAS, is a nationally renowned Motivational Keynote Speaker, Marketing Consultant, and Performance Coach, who has more than 27 years experience in the real estate industry throughout the United States and Canada. For information on how Jackie can help with your seminar, training, consulting or Keynote speaking needs, please contact her offices at 800-925-5169, e-mail Jackie@jackieramstedt.com. or visit her website www.jackieramstedt.com.   Thank you.

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