Given the amount of time I am now in the US, Lorraine (my wife) and I decided to buy a second home in Sarasota, Florida. I wasn’t looking forward to the process. I had heard of all the horror stories about dealing with Realtors (Estate Agents if you are from the UK). My expectation was they don’t listen, they waste your time by taking you around to properties that do not match your needs. All in all this was not a process I was looking forward too.
We went on line and approached a few companies and were allocated realtors and therefore started dealing with three or four realtors. One or two of them confirmed my expectations and we quickly dropped them, however, Michelle Crabtree stood out as someone who was genuinely trying to help.
As usual when building a great Customer Experience it was the little things that mattered. On our first house hunting expedition, before we arrived Michelle had left a pack of information at our hotel, highlighting the houses we were going to see that weekend. When we met I was impressed that she had lived in the area all of her life and that she was active in a number of the realtors associations and undertook training for them. All of these little things started to lower my defenses.
The reality is we didn’t really know what we wanted but the visits she had arranged helped us narrow our requirements. We didn’t buy anything that visit, but again a good sign was we didn’t feel pressurized to do so. Many sales people at this point would consider they should be closing hard to get the deal. Michelle was relaxed. This encouraged us further to decide she was going to be our realtor. We came back 5 or 6 times over 18 months, which must have been a real pain for Michelle. On a couple of occasions she cancelled her plans so she could be with us, again a sign of her commitment to us.
To further help us Michelle would do a “drive by” of the houses we thought about viewing as she new our requirements so well that she could narrow the houses down before we arrived from England.
Finally we found the right place. Again, my expectation was that when the deal was signed, she would run for the hills, contract and cheque in her hand and we would never see her again. But again, I was surprised to see this wasn’t the case. She guided us through the process and even after we moved in she has came around to check we were ok and even later on offered to help out in any way she could and gave us tips about the area. Clearly, this was above and beyond the call of duty.
So what is the learning here. Be genuine. Do as you would be done by. Listen to Customers. Show you care. Make the Customers life easier. It’s the small things that matter. Build a relationship…if you do these things you will be successful.
I have written three books on the Customer Experience, I am very protective of my reputation and do not often recommend people publicly. However, this is simple. If you are buying a house in Sarasota, go to Michelle Crabtree, no one else!
By Colin Shaw | Published: June 6, 2009