If we were sitting around a table trying to come up with a phrase for our customer service strategy, Enhanced Customer Experience, or ECE, would have to be it. It is the term that defines exactly what we are trying to accomplish with our in-house customer service program. Anyone can sell houses and almost anyone can set up a property management company. Notice I am not claiming that just anyone can do either very well!
But, the fact remains that there are literally hundreds if not thousands of choices that real estate investors can make everyday when they decide to buy investment property. So why do investors choose to do business with great customer service companies?
What separates many investors from bad decisions and leads them service oriented real estate investment companies, is looking beyond just buying a house and thinking about your average Tuesday afternoon. Most investors DO NOT want to look up on a random Tuesday afternoon and have to deal with a move-out, a maintenance issue, a court-date, an argument from a tenant who does not want to pay rent, etc... Investors that do not mind these types of random interruptions are called Active Investors. Passive real estate investors on the other hand are looking for options that do not require daily decision making. The best of the best passive investors are looking for options that allow them to do what they do best in their daily lives and still make money in real estate.
Many of the investors that work with our company are not simply looking to buy a house. There is a process that they go through when dealing with our company that is almost like a job interview. An interview conducted on our company by the investor. And, an interview conducted on the investor by our company. It is an opportunity to see if the wants and needs of the real estate investor match up with the services and values that we provide. When our services and values match the wants and needs of an investor, then price simply becomes one issue of the transaction. Other issues that are very important to the investor, but may not be over-riding issues, are the rate of return, the property management company performance, the level of renovation done to the property and the level of upkeep for the future. Each of those are equally important and matter to our clients as much as the final price. But most take a back seat the question of "are you able to provide me with a level of comfort, security and satisfaction that my investment is being looked-after for me as if it were right next door?". That is really all our clients want and happens to be what we do best.
RUCE - Real-time Unified Customer Engagement
What really separates our company is the Enhanced Customer Experience and the high level of comfort and security - the feeling that they are actually investing right next door. The ECE is a program where all of the departments work together (hopefully seamlessly, but not always...) to communicate both with each other and with our clients. The idea is to help clients get a consistent message and to prevent delays and breakdowns in communication. The customer service method we are developing is called is RUCE - Real-time Unified Customer Engagement.
Technology ties each department and whether answers or input is needed from sales, marketing, property management or renovation, the message delivered to the client is consistent across all of the departments and then our customer service team delivers that messaging. This consistent messaging starts from the day a potential client first contacts our company and now continues every month that they are a client. This monthly and sometimes weekly, engagement is the difference maker when it comes to offering top of the line customer service.
This focus and push on consistent messaging helps us as a company keep from simply "selling" real estate to any investor who says they want to buy. It helps us shape our marketing to attract like-minded investors. It helps us shape the decision making process so investors are not buying too quickly or without the proper preparation for owning passive investments. It helps for a smooth transition as an investor talks to the contracts and closing department about which date their property will close. Finally, when the Customer Service department begins to call a new client each week after closing, the investor is already beginning to feel the love! That is called an Enhanced Customer Experience and we want to keep that feeling going through the entire buying and owning cycle of each investor.
Just in case anyone thinks ECE and RUCE are just some fancy book terms, they are not. We talk on a daily basis in our 1:00PM sales, service and marketing meeting about every single phone call from the previous day made by our customer service team. We are looking for signs that our message is not consistent or that a client has questions that should have already been answered. The key for our company is that ECE allows us to identify a problem either with a specific client or with how we are handling a situation, before there is a complaint.
Laurie, Carol & Cyndy - Memphis Invest Customer Service Experts!
The entire customer service experience is built around getting to know our clients on a personal level and keeping our level of service and communication with the client - consistent. That one simple strategy has helped our company grow over the past few years and is more responsible for our development of our clients than any marketing gimmick. Focusing on client relationships, calling every client every month and enhancing the customer experience have become the best marketing programs we have ever developed.