“The absence of feedback is not a sign of satisfaction,” wrote Vala Afshar, Chief Digital Evangelist at Salesforce. “Indifference is awfully quiet and the true enemy.”
Indifference to your product or service is difficult to see. In the absence of direct feedback, it must be inferred. That can be tricky, but it’s a piece of information that can be invaluable when the bulk of your business is built on the back of referrals, like most real estate businesses are. Clients who are indifferent are certainly not going to be going out of their way to recommend you to their friends and family.
Using Response Rates To Uncover Indifference
One of the most interesting pictures that can be painted by the data we collect for our clients, if they’re using RealSatisfied correctly, is the picture of indifference. Customer satisfaction ratings are not built by the indifferent. They are built on the backs of those who care enough to take the time respond. This is just one of the reasons why it’s possible for two real estate agents to display matching customer satisfaction scores, and have two completely different levels of true customer satisfaction.
Here’s an example. Agent A closes 10 deals and sends a RealSatisfied customer satisfaction survey to 10 clients and 7 clients respond to the survey. Agent B closes 10 deals and sends a survey to all 10 clients and 3 clients respond to the survey. Both agents informed their respective clients that a survey would be sent at the close of the transaction. Both agents work for the same real estate brand in the same office. Both agents receive a customer satisfaction rating of 97% – Agent A based on 7 responses, Agent B based on 3 responses. Which agent has happier, more engaged customers? I’d argue Agent A by a wide margin.
Using Customer Satisfaction Surveys To Uncover Hidden Signals
We see a wide variety of behaviors around the sending of customer satisfaction surveys in our ecosystem. Some offices clearly do a better job of training agents on how to communicate with clients about the importance of feedback than others do. Those differences have a major impact on response rates. It’s no accident that customers like Meybohm REALTORS® in Augusta, Georgia have a statistically higher response rate than our average customer. We’ve written about Meybohm’s success and how they communicate in advance of surveys to insure higher response rates.
In an environment where surveys are sent for every completed transaction and where agents are consistent in informing clients that a survey will be sent by a neutral third-party at the close of the transaction, wide variances in response rates can certainly be a signal of indifference. Brokers who are paying attention have the opportunity to help agents uncover what might be causing those differences, and helping them fix those problems could be a key to unlocking increased referrals and improved performance. Our goal today is to get more brokers and agents to pay attention to response rates. This is data that is not visible to the public, so change will only occur if brokers and agents take advantage of this information.
Creating The Right Environment
None of what I’m talking about is possible unless the right conditions are present. The following must be in place before anything can be inferred from low response rates.
- Brokers must provide agents with proper training and tools. Agents need to be equipped to properly inform clients about how their performance is being measured and why their feedback is valuable. Tools can include printed pieces included in listing presentations and at closing and “scripts” agents can use to ensure clients are aware of coming surveys. We have created some templates to act as a guide: North America: Download The Full Package Australia: Download The Full Package
- All closed transactions need to be surveyed. Suffice it to say, in an environment where some agents survey all clients and other agents cherry pick who receives surveys, nothing can be inferred from response rates. The indifference in that situations sits with the agent, not the client. That’s a whole different issue.
- Response rates should be closely monitored. Client response rates need to be seen as a leading indicator of customer satisfaction health and brand strength. Happy clients are willing to provide detailed feedback. Top performing agents in our system have significantly higher than average response rates. We see it time and time again.
Indifference is a indeed quiet. However, we believe we can help you turn up the volume by focusing on a key indicator. Once you’ve created an environment where feedback is both desired and consistently sought, using response rates as an indicator of possible training opportunities is then possible.
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featured photo by Mihaly Borbely on Flickr