Providing Applicants with an ‘Amazing Service’
December 5, 2014
Young London’s focus has always been on providing the best possible customer service experience. As the Senior Property Consultant I know that providing a great experience – from the first moment we’re contacted by an applicant up until the time we pass them on to our colleagues in Contracts and Property Management – not only benefits the customer but also our landlords.
Making a lasting positive impression on an applicant can mean the difference between them staying with us for many years and moving on at the first opportunity.
In this blog I will talk about how my team goes about forging a great relationship with the applicant and thus fulfilling our all-important ‘Amazing Service’ mantra.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when people forget my name moments after I have told them. That is why the team recognise the massive importance of remembering, and correctly pronouncing, someone’s name when they first speak to an applicant. It is such a simple thing but it is hugely important as it shows that you are listening and that you see them as more than just another ‘number’. From a customer service perspective there’s nothing worse than repeatedly calling someone by the wrong name so I always remind my team that there is no shame in asking someone to clarify the pronunciation of their name.
Between all of us in the team we have many years of accumulated knowledge about this industry and the one thing that always holds true is that this job is not just about property. Our job is also about building a relationship with our applicants by talking to them about other things aside from property details, viewing arrangements, etc. That is why our team is always encouraged to be ourselves and to let our personalities shine through, especially as we have all been on the other side of this job and we know that “letting agent spiel” is hilariously transparent. Some people like this approach, while others just want to focus on business. Providing a good customer service is about gauging the person you’re speaking with and knowing how they want to be treated.
But to make sure we provide an ‘Amazing Service’ we have to go beyond just listening to an applicant and must be able to ask relevant and thoughtful questions. It’s our job to tease out information from people and a few simple questions can help them (and us) realise what they really want from their property, and this helps us to find them somewhere they’ll love to call home.
A great example of this approach happened with a recent applicant of mine. The gentleman in question was an avid ‘CrossFitter’ and football player. He originally wanted a property in the Surrey Quays area but when I found out about his hobbies I was able to point him towards a property in the MyBaSE1 development. This development is next to a CrossFit gym, around the corner from a local 5-a-side football league and also a short walk from Southwark Station (so perfect for his commute to work). He ended up taking the flat and, whenever our paths cross, he never fails to thank me for suggesting something a bit outside of his original remit.
Once things progress to the viewing stage the team know to take heed of the Boy Scouts motto, “Be Prepared”. When on a viewing the team needs to know their stuff! Before a viewing we make sure that we’re not only fully aware of the property but also what the local amenities are, the distance from local transport links and a full run down of the development’s facilities – as it’s not just the property that is important to people.
While the following hints may seem blindingly obvious it’s shocking how often they are overlooked. When I was looking for my own home it was surprising how often the agents I dealt with failed to do a number of the below:
- Be on time (very important!)
- Shake their hand
- Be polite, speak clearly and intelligently (don’t use slang)
- Speak when necessary and don’t fill silences with mindless babble
- Open doors and let the applicant through first
- Smile, make eye contact and be at ease
- Be interested in them and ask the right questions
On the viewing it’s important that applicants get to explore the property rather than being directed around. This can be easily achieved by letting an applicant lead the viewing. Let them be the first to step into a room and give them a chance to get a feel for the property without you constantly standing in front of them. It’s also nice to encourage them to sit in every seat, try the water pressure in the shower and other small things like that. When it comes to viewings I always tell my team that we’re on hand to answer questions and point out any interesting features that could be missed and not to lead them around like they’ve never been inside a property before.
I am proponent of the importance of reading an applicant’s body language to gauge their reaction to a property. It’s not difficult to tell if someone is not falling in love with somewhere and there’s no point in trying to ‘sell’ a property that they clearly don’t want. We’re here to help them rent somewhere they’ll love to call home, not just to get them into one of our properties as quickly as possible. Which is why it’s so refreshing that my team is rewarded on our customer service feedback rather than commission as, without the pressure to let a property at any cost, we can focus on getting the right person for the property.
Once a viewing has been completed it is time to guide them through the offer process. Our team always takes a copy of our offer form on viewings so that they can explain each section and answer any questions as we find it’s easier to do this face to face rather than over the phone or email.
At Young London we believe in transparency throughout the whole lettings process and that starts with my team fully explaining our fees and what they cover. This is something that I have been very stringent about since I took over the team as there’s nothing worse than being accused of trying to hide your fees. I tell my team that the offer stage is the most important part of the process and that they have to be very thorough, particularly with anything money related. No applicant should leave a viewing without a full understanding of the full process and our fees, even if they don’t want to make an offer straight away. When helping an applicant put forward their offer the team will check and double check each of the offer terms to make sure we put forward exactly what the applicant wants, so there is no issues at a later date.
At the end of the day we do our best to show that we genuinely care about the applicant and that we fully appreciate that finding a new home is stressful, but also very exciting. This approach pays dividends and the feedback our team receives on a regular basis makes doing this job worthwhile!