Part 2: Customer service or lip service?

by Kevin Hawkins on January 21, 2015

satisfactionLast month I shared a theory that most real estate technology companies stink at customer service.

I asked for people to challenge my theory, but only one person said, “You’re wrong.”

Randall Standard, who heads up VoicePad, took strong exception my piece.

He made several valid points in taking me to task, among which included my failure to point out that some real estate technology companies are providing good customer service.

And he share this observation with me, which I think is spot on:

He wrote, “A closer examination of real estate technology firms would find a mixed bag of customer support levels.  Some real estate technology companies are quite good at support.  Some provide no support at all.  It takes both money and a commitment to provide excellent customer support.”

Standard is right. Money, or lack of it, really is one of the major reasons customer service fairs so poorly at any company.

Commitment is the second reason, and I believe that comes from a cultural orientation that begins at the top.

I think Standard actually helps me make my point.

That’s because his firm is deeply committed to customer service. I know this from both the customer comments he shared with me, but also the lack of negative posts about his company and his products on the web: I couldn’t find any.

When I joined Imprev as head of communication and marketing several years ago, I discovered the same thing: I Googled and Googled and could not find anyone saying anything bad about the company nor its products.  When I looked at its customer satisfaction surveys, every quarter they were north of 90 percent.

If you’ve every have worked with Renwick Congdon at Imprev or Randall Standard at VoicePad, you know their management styles are remarkably different. But they both share the same DNA when it comes to customer service as they both lead by example.  They create a culture where the customer counts and doing the right thing by the customer is the same guiding principal at both firms.

I believe that’s the case at every company that is known for great customer service: They invest in it and it is part of their culture, which you can almost always trace to the top.

The problem I still struggle with is I have only anecdotal evidence of which real estate technology firms do a good job and those that do a poor job or ignore customer service completely. I cannot find a single piece of research on this topic that proves my theory right or wrong and that bothers me.

But it is also something that perhaps we at the WAV Group can do something about.

We pride ourselves as being a catalyst for causing positive change in the real estate industry, and this could be a very valuable research project: Assessing customer service performance among real estate technology companies.

Currently, the WAV Group measures service satisfaction for MLS products and services extensively every year – industry wide and for specific MLSs. Typically, the MLS provides the first tier service for their products to agents and brokers. Satisfaction ratings above 90% are generally considered good or great. This year we are going to measure support provided by the vendor to the MLS, which is second tier support.

Do you think this information would be useful in your evaluation of real estate technology vendors?  Let us know.

disclaimer – WAV Group has provided consulting services to all companies mentioned in this post

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