Meet Where They Are: Communicating With Consumers

February 3, 2010
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279804967 668397cde9 225x300 Meet Where They Are: Communicating With ConsumersAn important part (it could be argued the most important part) of the consumer experience is good communications.  The bad news is that communications is one area where we are told we, as REALTORs, fall short of customer expectations.  The good news is that communication “issues” it is not difficult to correct.  Simply find out the how, when and why of your consumer’s preferred communications MO and do it.  Do it preemptively.  Don’t let them chase you down but be the one in front of them with the information they need in the manner they need it.  A commitment as simple as keeping them informed and in touch can completely change their experience.

Just a few key questions in the initial meeting will allow you to sort out most of their preferences :

  1. “What is your communications preference?” (email, phone, text, etc.)
  2. “What time of day is best for you?”
  3. “Mr. and Ms. Seller - how much do you want to know about how we market your property, market updates, showing feedback and how often?” Some sellers want to know everything you are doing and some couldn’t care less or don’t want to be bothered with “details”.
  4. “Mr. and Ms. Buyer – do you want to be sent everything so that you can sort through all of the options or do you prefer me to hand select the ones I feel meet your requirements the most?” One person could think you are being selective for selfish reasons and one could think you are spamming them, by finding out if they want some hand holding or are more DIY, you will give them exactly what they are looking for, no more, no less.
  5. “Mr. and Ms. Consumer - these are the hours you can expect to hear from me and these are the hours I am not available.  You can expect to hear back from me within X hours.” This sets the parameters of when they can and cannot expect a return call, email or text.

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You can make your own list, but you get the point… Everyone’s desired communication method, timing and material is different and the more you match what you do to what they expect and want, the happier their experience will be.  One person’s spam is another person’s gold.  Those who get annoyed by texts might only want to speak one on one and vice versa.

Once you sort out their preferred communication MO, be ahead of them.  Send them the updates, listings, news before they ask. If you anticipate what they want/need and get it to them without having to be asked, they will really feel that you understand them and are looking out for them.  If they have to chase for listings, appointments, feedback, etc. they might feel that you simply don’t care or are too busy.  No one wants to feel that their REALTOR is too busy for them when they are buying or selling such an expensive asset, it’s the most important thing they normally have going on at that point in their life, let them know you appreciate and understand this.

Most of us can use some polishing in our communications skills, but thankfully, it doesn’t take much to go from appearing to ill prepared and uninterested to showing that you really care about them, their needs and their interests.

Word of caution: Try not to assume you know their preferences, everyone has their choices and they aren’t always obvious, make it a point to find out those for each of your consumers and they will think you are da bom!

Janie has been in the development, construction and real estate industries for over 20 years. She began her career in commerical construction and has slowly worked into all of the related industries and added residential properties to her resume 7 years ago. She is currently the co-owner of sister companies, Papillon Real Estate and Papillon ReDevelopment (a construction and project management firm). Janie blogs for The Coral Gables Story. In her "free" time, she is a graduate student of Atlantic History with a focus on the history of business and technology. She is a lover of geo-anything. She loves the story.



Weigh in...

  • http://www.jayfergusonrealtor.com Jay Ferguson

    That is why we have 2 ears and one month, we should listen twice as much

  • http://www.brandcandid.com Ken Brand

    Boom! Fantastic advice, not every now and then or when we remember – EVERY TIME.

    Street Smarts squared:-)

  • http://brandieyoung.wordpress.com Brandie Young

    Awesome, Janie! So true. “Try not to assume you know their preferences” … great advice. Always ask.

  • http://www.realestateyork.com Bobbi Hughes

    I find that how they communicate to you is how they want to be communicated with. If someone texts me, I text them back. I also find that the different generations want to communicate differently. Great advice! Thanks!!!

  • http://tonilabrum.com Toni Labrum

    always…always ask…great advice…I’ve worked with people in the casino industry, you cannot second guess their schedule! Thanks for the reminder!!!

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  • http://www.carapearlman.com Cara Pearlman

    Janie – so true! I have been asking my clients what their preferred form of communication is for a while now. Most seem to rely on email, a few text and I normally don’t friend them on facebook until the transaction is nearing a close.

  • http://tonilabrum.com Toni Labrum

    I say; always ask the best way to communicate with client…i’m from old school, like the phone; however most of my clients like e-mail or text…It is not as personal but the younger crowd doesn’t care, so we do whatever is best for the client! Toni Labrum Team, Temecula, CA

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  • http://kwrealestatelife.wordpress.com Kevin Baker

    I totally agree! Ask the 3 deep questions to get to what is really important to them. Listening is the key but follow up with what you promise is also of upmost importance. If we communicate what is going to happen and keep them in the loop, the clients will feel like they are your only client.
    Keep up the great advice!

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  • http://www.masiello.com Marcia Gloddy

    This should be the very first lesson that a Broker gives to his/her new licensees!!!

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  • http://www.ringcentral.com/virtual-office/index.html virtual office

    I so agree with your post! I wish every business man or entrepreneurs could read your post. This is the right attitude you should show in your clients/customers.