I don't know about you, but it seems like yesterday's phone call on a listing has evolved to today's online inquiry. While we still get a healthy flow of incoming phone calls, our bread and butter today is the online lead that has registered to look at properties or read our proprietary content. Because of this, we have evolved our follow-up processes to meet today's consumer demands.
Immediacy Is A Must
Many companies in technical fields offer live support personnel on their websites. It is something every company, in every industry, should strongly consider adopting. If your operation is too small to do this, plan an elaborate routing process so that customer inquiries make it to a live person rapidly. Then ensure that your personnel knows that every second counts. The goal at my real estate company is to respond to every form of inquiry and every email inquiry within 30 seconds of it arriving on our computers.
Sometimes, we are able to initiate communication using a live chat feature on our websites. Currently, we outsource our live chat application to an outside company. We worked out a dialogue for them to use, and the live chat button is available on every page of our website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Additionally, we have it pop up 30 seconds after a new visitor arrives in order to facilitate more chat sessions. We have initiated many relationships through live chat that have resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue over the years. It’s fast, it’s effective and it rarely annoys a visitor as they only need to close the pop-up window to move on with no more interruptions.
If you are a top-producing real estate agent, then you are likely busy. There is no way to handle incoming leads while also interacting with customers. This is why live support on your staff is so important. I think about this way: Why spend the money on generating leads if I'm not going to be there to handle the customers right away?
Tips On Working With Digital Customers
Digital customers are similar to telephone customers in that they have contacted you for a specific reason. We work very hard on perfecting our first contact, and we use the following tips when training our inside sales associates:
Follow-up on customer inquiries needs to be well planned and well trained throughout the customer service and/or sales departments. Most agents throw a volume of sales propaganda at prospective customers who only want an answer to a question, and this leads to poor conversion and lost opportunities.
Seek first to understand. Be curious. Our first responders need to be prompt, and the primary goal is to get the prospective customer to reply to the response. Every good conversation requires give and take, and it is imperative that this first customer contact begins as a conversation that can be cultivated into a long-lasting customer relationship.
Our customers give us hints at what we need to know in order to facilitate a great experience for them. Whether it is through direct communication (the questions that they ask) or through deduction (as an example, deriving the occupation of the consumer by taking the time to read the signature block in their email signature), we must pay attention in order to find what we need to relate better to the customer.
Seek common ground
Commonality, or common ground, is a wonderful way of building trust in a new relationship. Our sales staff has been taught to establish commonality with prospective customers in order for the customer to identify with them. We need to be able to do the same thing in an email conversation that we once did during a verbal conversation. Any time there is an opportunity to strengthen the trust component of the relationship, it must be seized.
Short Conversational Dialogue
If you were to ask a group of children to demonstrate how they communicate with each other through cell phone texting, you would gain a great understanding of the evolution of written communication. Our customers do not expect the Queen’s English, but they do expect prompt responses. Proper spelling and grammar should never be compromised as they emphasize professionalism and competency at all times, but speed and simplicity are the heart of a properly executed customer communication.
Final Thoughts On Communicating With Digital Customers
The need for speed is much greater than many might assume. In the old days, you could return a phone call from a prospective customer the next day and typically do fine. But today's digital consumer is seeking answers, and they don't have any patience when they know the next website is merely a click away. This is why I believe a totally incompetent person who responds right away is better than an expert responding ten minutes after the inquiry. Of course, if you can respond immediately with a well-trained agent, then you have the best of both worlds.