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Over the past few weeks, estate agents have been forced to close high street branches and adapt to working from home, but finally, agents are starting to return to the office, viewings can happen in person again, and moves can go ahead.
Things aren’t going back to complete normality, though. With so much change and uncertainty, how you communicate to your clients and manage their expectations is extremely important now more than ever. The decisions you make now, at a time when vendors need your support the most, will play a key role in helping to retain existing clients and attract new ones once the housing market is back on its feet.
Here are five ways you can manage client expectations when times get tough.
Emotions are running high right now, and when your client’s dream home or even livelihood hangs in the balance, they may be feeling even more worried and stressed about the current situation.
Pause your existing communications that are currently going out to your clients and take time to review them. Forget about selling for a while and focus on providing some answers and reassurance to clients you already have in the process. Existing and potential clients will have a lot of questions: is it safe to host viewings? Is the housing market stable? Will the value of my home drop? Creating an FAQ page on your website is a great way to answer all of your client’s queries and take pressure off your agents, who may be inundated with calls and emails at the moment.
Setting expectations early on is key to making sure you don’t disappoint your clients. If you’re working with a reduced team, let people know that it may take longer for you to get back to them and that urgent enquiries on existing sales and lettings will be given priority. Set more realistic timelines, and communicate these clearly, so clients get a more accurate idea of how long they should wait before receiving a reply from you and if there are going to be any delays in the process.
By setting these expectations, you’ll help to put your clients’ minds at ease, making them less likely to become upset and angry when they can’t talk to someone straight away or their expected moving date gets pushed back. Being honest now builds trust for the future!
More and more people are using social media to reach out and connect with businesses (64% of people say they’d rather use Facebook to message a business than call or email), it’s important to be active wherever your clients are trying to get a hold of you. If your estate agency is usually active on social media, don’t abandon this channel when times get tough! It’s a great way to stay in touch with current clients who may have queries, as well as people who are thinking of using your agency in the future.
Your website will also become more important, so start treating your homepage as your new shop window, especially if you’re still unable to open some branches. It’s vital to understand how people are interacting with your website; are most of your visitors on mobile or desktop? Is your site optimised for both?
Wherever people are going to get information about your agency and however they’re doing it, you must make it easy for them. Otherwise they’re going to get frustrated and you could lose potential business.
Periods of disruption and uncertainty aren’t just stressful for your clients, your staff can suffer too if they’re not looked after. Do they know how to respond to certain queries? Do they have the technology and tools they need to manage their clients in a crisis? If you’re in any doubt, just ask!
Surveys are a great way to get anonymous feedback from your employees; they can be honest and let you know what’s working well and what isn’t. Look at your client feedback too – if you notice a particular staff member is consistently receiving negative or neutral reviews, they may need some more training or support from you. Staff who regularly receive positive feedback can be recognised and rewarded, helping you to keep morale up. In fact, sharing this feedback with the whole company can give everyone a much-needed boost, and inspire them to keep going during a tough period.
While viewings and sales may have slowed, continuing to collect client feedback is incredibly important, not just from a learning and insights point of view, but because positive reviews are great for building trust in your property business.
Even if people aren’t ready to use your estate agency right now, they may already be weighing up their options for when the housing market is back in action. Make sure you’re promoting your most recent, positive reviews on your social media channels, utilising them in paid advertising and hosting them on your website. This will help your property business stay at the front of people’s minds until they’re ready to proceed.
Collecting feedback not only helps build trust, it provides valuable insight too. Use this time to really listen to what your clients are saying and make improvements to your business. That way, you’ll ensure that your business is living up to, or maybe even exceeding, the expectations those positive reviews are setting!
How you act now will be remembered forever; that’s why it’s so important that you keep communicating with your clients and listen to what they have to say, both good and bad.
At Feefo, we have a range of tools that can help you to better connect with your clients and get the insight you need to make meaningful changes to your business during this tough period. To find out more, get in touch with our friendly consultants today!