A Step-by-Step Guide to Measuring Quality

What we've learned: A quality control veteran reveals consumer preferences

September 1, 1997

Starting a quality control program in real estate requires leadership from the top down, commitment from the bottom up, and a willingness to follow through. Other than that, it's fairly simple. To get feedback from customers and clients, follow these steps:

  1. Compile a list of questions to ask. We wanted to know how customers heard about our company, how they selected their salesperson, and how much their house cost. We asked them to rate the different parts of the sales transaction, from showing to closing. Finally, we wanted to know how we compared with the competition in terms of customer satisfaction.
  2. Remember to keep your salespeople informed from the program's inception. Solicit their viewswhen you compile questions, but be prepared for some resistance; some salespeople may view the survey as second-guessing their performance.
  3. Hire a research company to conduct a benchmark survey. Lewis & Clark Research of Raleighasked all the people who'd bought a home in Wake County in the previous six months to rate the various services involved in selling a home. As an incentive to complete the survey, we included a dollar bill in each. More than 50 percent of the people polled returned our survey, an unusually high rate for such surveys.
  4. Analyze the data. Where are your company's strengths? Weaknesses? What do consumers want?
  5. Explain the data to your salespeople. Most salespeople, especially top performers, realize they can use the feedback to improve their service and increase sales.
  6. Continue to survey. You need benchmark surveys only every three or four years. In the meantime, conduct smaller surveys of your own customers. For instance, in subsequent surveys, we conducted polls regarding the quality of various vendors, such as attorneys and mortgage lenders.

Ed Willer, CRB, is president of York Residential, Raleigh, N.C.

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