The Power of Benchmarking – MFRMLS Experiences New Heights in Customer Satisfaction

by Marilyn Wilson on February 4, 2011

The Power of Benchmarking

WAV Group strongly believes that you cannot accomplish what you cannot measure. How do you know if your customers are loyal fans and would recommend you to others? By asking them, of course.   And not just asking them on occasion, but every time anyone in your organization connects with them in any way.

We have witnessed significant improvements in customer satisfaction when a MLS regularly measures satisfaction levels and then, of course, continues to improve in the areas where they have received suggestions for improvement.

Why does satisfaction matter? After all MLSs for the most part are still the only game in town. Most do not really have to “compete” for customers. Agents and Brokers only have one choice, right?   Not so, in our view.   While MLS systems and MLS organizations are great at what they do, there are many others breathing down their necks, hoping to create a new model. Whether it’s a state association, third party vendor or even another MLS there are more opportunities for an MLS to be usurped by a third party than ever before.   Second, MLSs have the unique dynamic of their board of directors changing regularly.  How do you answer the new board member’s question about listing accuracy or system performance if you don’t measure performance over time.  How do you take credit for the great work you do to counteract the inevitable one or two complainers in your market or the disgruntled association who only hears from those with a gripe and not the myriad of satisfied customers?

The best offense is a great defense, we say.  Using benchmarks and sharing them regularly with the board, shareholders and members can help everyone feel good about being part of your MLS.  You can use benchmarks to demonstrate transparency and to help your members understand you’re listening to them and responding to their suggestions.

We are proud to describe just one case where an MLS has used benchmarking to guide their continual member satisfaction and overall organizational improvements.

Meet My Florida Regional MLS, an organization with 34,000 members in Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg, and all the way down the west coast of Florida to Sarasota.  We have been lucky enough to track their member satisfaction progress for the past several years and we have very good news to report.

Overall, MFRMLS’ satisfaction ratings have increased from significantly in just 4 years with the most prevalent score of 7 out of 10 to an average score of 9 out of 10.  Importantly the percentage of customers giving the company ratings of 9 and 10 have increased the most dramatically indicating the company is creating more loyal fans.  Not only are their member’s continually delighted by the service they provide, they have also earned their way into adding 7 New associations in the past couple of years. Their latest addition is Pinellas REALTOR Organization from St. Petersburg, Florida. While the Florida market has been hit extremely hard by the market downturn, MFRMLS has actually returned to its “pre-downturn” membership levels by earning the trust of these new associations.  Every one of their members can benefit from the stability and additional revenues provided by its new association partnerships.

So what’s their secret sauce?  How do they earn the respect and loyalty of their members?

1.  Passion for making customers happy! - MFRMLS starts with an unwavering commitment to solving their customer’s problems.   According to their member survey, they deliver their service with a positive can-do attitude.  Comments suggest their members are impressed by the level of commitment to getting their members what they need as fast as they can.

2.  Breadth of Services - Second, they offer a breadth of services – nearly 20 in all and they offer this bundle at a very affordable price.  They offer everything from a lead generating consumer-facing website to mobile services to showing appointment software to a great MLS system and public records system and a whole lot more.  Interestingly, even in this awful economy, satisfaction levels for “value for the money” actually increased in their latest survey.

3.  Strong Help Desk and MLS Administration – Next, they have a crack help desk and MLS administration department.  They are blessed with a former manager of one of the world’s largest call centers and she brings customer service disciplines that have helped the organization to continually improve.  Satisfaction ratings for these teams are off the charts too, especially as it relates to demonstrating they really care about the customer.

4.  Field Training Team – Next, they have a team of trainer/coaches on the streets regularly educating their members about the myriad of services they offer and helping REALTORSÒ to understand how they can save money and sell more real estate using the services.  They are about to again expand their online training offerings as well for those that like to learn “in their jammies”.

5.  Constant Customer Satisfaction Vigilance - They do not just monitor satisfaction in a semi-annual survey. They also measure satisfaction levels after every contact with the company. That way they can remediate immediately if a customer has not been completely satisfied for some reason.

6.  Benchmarking Results of Every Process - MFRMLS uses benchmarking in a variety of methods to ensure they are staying on task toward improving their customer’s experience.   They regularly measure listing data quality, help desk satisfaction, system performance and many other measures.  For example in just one year they were able to improve listing data quality by 85% by better understanding the key issues driving inaccuracies in their database. Through a combination of education and policy change they were able to significantly improve their core asset – their property database.

There are other MLS organizations that take satisfaction benchmarking very seriously as well. Northstar MLS in Minneapolis, for example has been conducting a satisfaction survey consistently for several years and they are also demonstrating significant improvements in service quality.  MRIS, the largest MLS in the nation goes so far as to tie a portion of their management incentive program to the satisfaction scores they receive from their subscribers.

If you would like to increase the performance and satisfaction levels of your MLS organization, think about how you can identify the key issues for your subscribers, address them and then regularly measure progress.  It will help you create more satisfaction customers, board members and bring you a great pride of ownership!

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