How (and Why) to Survey Your Customers

Polling for your brokerage is a way to improve customer satisfaction, capture testimonials, and earn client loyalty.

October 6, 2015

Everyone talks about how important it is to give genuine, excellent customer service to generate and maintain a healthy, profitable business. Sadly, many are only really paying lip service to what is really required. To give truly great customer service at your brokerage, you need to know what your clients need, want, expect, deserve, and demand. How do you find that out? The very simple answer is to survey them.

I am always dismayed in my coaching sessions when virtually everyone admits they don’t survey their customers. Occasionally, some have done a one-off survey.

I’ve had the good fortune to work with and research some of the best entrepreneurs in the world, and invariably, they have an ongoing survey program in place

Carl Sewell, author of Customers For Life (Doubleday, 1990) and owner of the number one Cadillac dealer in the U.S., has built a workplace culture where a minimum 90 percent customer service rating is acceptable from his salespeople. We can certainly learn a lot from this business expectation.

Surveying customers doesn’t just mean buyers and sellers. Start by polling your most important customers: your agents and staff. Once you discover their wants, needs, and problems, you as a broker can identify where your company is succeeding among its people — and where it needs work. By resolving problems, the happiness, commitment, and support from your agents and staff will grow stronger.

Then develop a survey program to regularly and systematically survey your customers. By taking the time to ask every client about their homebuying and homeselling experience, they’ll see your company cares about customer satisfaction.

Building a Survey Program

Don’t rush out and do a one-off survey. Your brokerage should develop a plan that will help you quantify results. Here are suggested steps to follow:

  1. Select a survey platform such as SurveyMonkey, RealSatisfied, Polldaddy, Google Consumer Surveys, and others.
  2. Choose a survey type: multiple choice, ratings, open-ended reviews, or another format.
  3. Develop your survey questions, but don’t include more than 10. You don’t want to lose respondents due to lengthy questions. Five would be ideal.
  4. Decide who will deploy the survey to clients: you as the broker or your agents. Set a time frame for sending the survey — within a week of closing, for instance. You want the buying or selling experience to be fresh in your customers’ minds.
  5. Make your survey easily accessible. E-mail the survey to clients with a link, or include the survey form on your website.
  6. Explain your goal to clients: “We would like to provide the best customer service possible, and to do that, we need your advice.”
  7. Once you have received the responses, thank your customers for their feedback and suggestions.
  8. Increase your number of respondents by offering incentives, such as a drawing, gift cards, or discount tickets to an event. You can also call clients and offer to take their answers over the phone.
  9. Publish your survey results, feedback, and testimonials, and share them with your clients. Transparency is important. Often, people will take a survey and never learn the results. Posting positive feedback on your website is also a way to attract customers and build your credibility online. And posting negative feedback offers you a chance to publicly remedy or respond to a situation.
  10. Incorporate survey results and feedback into your business goals and agent sales trainings.

The added benefit of surveying your clients is that you’re building awareness that you own or manage a trusted brokerage.

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Ian Grace

Australian-born Ian Grace, one of the world’s leading authorities on real estate advertising, is the director of IGM Global and head of Ian Grace Business Training. For 16 years, he worked in and researched advertising and customer service in England, South Africa, and the United States.