Years ago, while going through some financial difficulty, I accepted a temporary (3 month) assignment at a large, Fortune 500 company that provides HR outsourcing services. The company used three different employment agencies to locate 100 qualified applicants...then trained all 100 people, at the same time, to perform a specific task. Our training was intense, thorough and comprehensive...lasting three weeks and ending in a pass/fail exam. Those who passed would continue to work for the remainder of the three months...those who failed would be dismissed immediately.
On the final day of training, only 86 people showed up to take the exam. Of those who took the exam, only 58 passed. From the 100 people who began the training, a little more than half remained. When I commented to one of the trainers about how disappointed they must have been with the results, she said..."Actually...we were only expecting half of the people to pass the training. We are ahead of the game."
On the following Monday, those of us who had passed the exam were broken into three teams... introduced to our team supervisors...and assigned our cubicles and equipment. That whole day, we tested our systems and prepared to ‘go live' the following morning. Throughout the day, we received random, mock calls from supervisors and trainers who tested our ability to apply the classroom lessons to real life situations. All of the calls were recorded and played back to the whole team. After weeks of training, some of the CSRs (Customer Service Representatives) were completely clueless and made up answers...others were just rude. It was both hilarious and disturbing. At the end of the day, another 9 people were asked to leave...AND THEN THERE WERE 49!!!
At 7am the next morning, I began receiving live calls from retired people who wanted to confirm their enrollment in their health insurance plans. Although the process was simple, many of the callers were quite elderly and needed a lot of explanation in order to understand their options. Most of my calls lasted 15-25 minutes, as many of my callers were lonely and enjoyed having someone with whom to talk. Sometimes, they would share how they had recently lost a spouse to illness and were having problems getting the insurance company to pay the hospital bills. I would cry with them and then promise to investigate their cases. Their stories touched my heart so deeply that I had to do everything I could to help them.
In sharp contrast...from the cubicle to my left, I would often hear the CSR make negative remarks after her calls. She would hang up her phone and refer to the caller as a ‘bitch‘...or say, "I'm so tired of these old people complaining to me. It's not my job to listen to their problems." After a few days of hearing her negative remarks, I could take no more. When I heard her hang up from a call and say, "stupid, old bitch", I leaned around the cubicle wall and said, "You know...I've been sitting here all week taking calls...just like you. The thing I can't understand is how ALL of my callers have been so sweet and polite, but ALL of your callers have been ‘bitches'. Hmmmmm...do you think they intentionally assigned you the ‘bitch line'?" She did not answer me, but apparently I was not the only person who had heard her rude remarks. The supervisors were still recording calls, and they had overheard some of her comments. Her cubicle was empty the following Monday.
By the end of the third month, only 33 people (33%) remained...25 of whom were offered full-time, permanent positions in the company...including myself. In my interview, I learned that the company had received over twenty letters and emails from customers I had helped during my three month assignment...expressing their gratitude for my assistance and care. I was the only CSR who had received such correspondence during an open enrollment...ever!
At that time, I was not familiar with the 80/20 Rule (also called Pareto's Principle). Had I been, I would have understood why the trainers only expected half of the class to pass the exam...why they hired 100 people to fill 50 positions...why they expected to discover and hire 25 permanent employees. In any business...including real estate...you can see the 80/20 Rule at work. The 80/20 Rule says that 20% of the people will do 80% of the work...80% of the wealth will be earned by 20% of the people...20% of real estate agents will produce 80% of the sales. In other words...in any situation..."80% of the effects comes from 20% of the causes."
In reality, the exact numbers are not important. What is important to understand is that the cream will always rise to the top. It is not good enough to be average...you must set your sights on being among the top 20%. To stand out from the crowd...to be the ‘cream'...you must perform better than 80% of your competition. You must go above and beyond the call of duty...giving your customers the absolute best service available in the marketplace.
Ask yourself..."Why should a customer choose to work with me when they have so many choices available to them?" If you cannot think of a good reason...it is time to evaluate the services you provide and make the changes necessary to distinguish yourself from the crowd. In my example above...all 100 of us received the same training and opportunity...but only 33 took full advantage of the situation. Are you taking full advantage of the opportunity you have been given in real estate? Are you the best REALTOR® in your office...in your area of expertise...in your town? If you are not the best...are you in the top 20%?
If not...it is not too late...
YOU CAN BE GREAT IN 2008!
Written and Posted by:
Elizabeth Nieves - Broker, REALTOR® -- The Elizabeth Nieves Realty Group @ Keller Williams (A Bilingual Real Estate Team serving Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill NC and surrounding areas.)