Kevan is the senior consultant at August, the training & consultancy division of Rexlabs.
He's passionate about helping agents and agencies realise their true potential through a combination of training, coaching and professional development work.
Have you cracked the secret formula to gain clients for life? We have, and today I want to share it with you.
Believe it or not, it starts with some internal discovery work. Ask yourself, who’s at the centre of your universe? Is it your kids? Your partner? Your parents? Yourself?
Now what about your business universe – is centred on your career? Your company? Could it be your clients?
Here at Rex, we believe that everything revolves around our customers. That may be an obvious thing to say for a company that sells things to people, but it wasn’t always this way. For a long time, our main focus was on creating great products and letting nature take its course.
Of course, we did consumer research, hired great designers who knew how to create amazing interfaces that were easy to use, and we leaned on our collective years of real estate experience. But our main focus was the product itself – rather than what our customers were trying to achieve by using it.
This created misalignment, kind of like an agent whose priority is all about their own career. They might make the calls and do the work and be really effective, but thinking about how their customers feel isn’t high on their list.
But then, something big happened which changed the way we work – forever.
Our customer’s success became our whole world
About a year ago, our CEO, Anton, marched into the office one morning and mentioned two little words: “Customer Success”.
This was to become our default operating method. From then on, everything we were to do as a business needed to align with those words.
What we built and how we built it, how we sold and supported it, how we improved it and how we scrapped it. Customer success was to become the core value of Rexlabs and underpin our thinking when it came to, well, everything.
But why the change? I mean, overall, our customers were already pretty happy. We’ve got the great reviews to prove it. Wasn’t that enough?
As it turns out, it wasn’t.
Lightbulb moment: “happy customers” doesn’t equal more revenue
Don’t get me wrong, happy customers are a good thing. If you can make a customer feel positively, you must be doing something right. But just because our customers are “happy” doesn’t mean they’re going to keep using our products. Similarly, your happy customers aren’t guaranteed to become repeat or referral vendors.
But if what you do contributes to making them truly successful, then it’s a different story. You’ve stumbled upon the magic formula because those successful customers are going to be yours forever. They will see you as the partner that they need and, hopefully, one they cannot do without. They will want to work with you in every property transaction they’re a part of, for the rest of their lives.
How to devise your magic formula
To be honest, this can be the hard part. For example, when we went through this exercise ourselves, we read books, ran workshops and debated for months before coming up with our game plan. But the outcome was awesome! Here’s what we learned.
- Understand your customers, inside and out. They, just like you, are individuals with their own skills, needs, motivations, fears and, most importantly, dreams.
- Work out what you can do to help every one of your customers achieve those dreams. For example, our clients - real estate agents, agency owners, admin staff - dream of having more time to spend with their family, less manual reporting, more market share. Your customers’ dreams might be to achieve a certain type of lifestyle (by freeing up equity to buy their dream home), or to move on from a divorce as painlessly as possible (by selling the family home quickly).
- Now make those things your number one focus.
This shift of thinking has caused us to ask questions like, “How will the work we’re doing with this feature make our customers feel?”, “What would be the most exciting thing someone could use this for?” but most critically, “Can our customers use our products to improve their lives, or the lives of their own customers?”
Now let’s make it relevant for you. Maybe think about questions like:
- What’s your customer's overall impression of your brand? Is it warm, cold, professional, caring, etc?
- What do you think is the best thing that happens to them when it comes to the service you provide? Do they feel completely looked after? Do they have total trust in you?
- What is the worst experience they have with you? Could it be a lack of communication? Perhaps they didn’t feel ‘special’? j
- How did you go out of your way to make them feel like a real partner instead of just a paycheck? Was it about really listening to their needs and hopes, regularly seeking their input and opinion, working hard to get them the most successful outcome, or a combination?
- If you stopped talking to one of your vendors tomorrow, would they remember your name in five years' time? What have you done to go above and beyond?
Since we’ve started thinking this way, our internal teams are more aligned than ever. Each team member is working towards the unifying goal of customer success. Our newly-formed customer success team is proactively working with our users to understand their needs and goals, and introduce them to features they may not be using. We’ve also introduced new training and customer care initiatives that are designed to help people get more from their CRM and use it to seriously excel.
And the feedback we’ve received so far has been incredible! Our users are more engaged with Rex, both the product and our staff. They’re discovering new ways that the system can save them time, increase their reach and allow them to focus on what is important to them. Because of this, our customers are seeing us as a partner and not just a provider. We’re not done though, we’re going to keep growing with this because we see this new approach as how to build and grow the strongest of relationships.
So, it’s working for us – and it can work for you. So, back to my original question...
Who is at the centre of your universe?
And if your focus has traditionally been inward, are you prepared to look outward? Ask yourself honestly, are you creating successful customers? What are you doing to help people achieve their dreams?
It’s worth mentioning that as millennials and Gen Z start making up more of your customer base, this will become even more important. These are people to whom customer experience trumps almost anything. Providing a truly human interaction is the best way to differentiate yourself, especially in this day and age where that human connection is often hard to find.
This mindset will fundamentally shift the way you talk to your vendors and the service you provide, but the rewards will be amazing for them and for your business.