How support staff can revolutionise your business

Business, Industry News,  Principals

Support staff working for real estate businesses are vital cogs in the machine, ensuring calendar appointments are met, paperwork is filed and databases are kept up-to-date.

While they often play roles behind the scenes, their support is often what keeps the sales and property management staff performing at their peak.

What is often not discussed however, is what happens when the cogs in the machine begin to falter.

Since support staff often work in customer-facing roles, so a receptionist or personal assistant suffering burnout, job dissatisfaction or simply a bad attitude can be detrimental to a real estate business.

Customer service expert Julie Cross says real estate businesses make the mistake of investing hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in professional development training for their sales agents or property managers, but fail to do the same for their support staff.

“Everybody is serving somebody, and every encounter a team member has with a customer, no matter his or her position, is a defining customer service moment – a moment that can win or lose a customer,” says Cross.

“There is no point investing in our sales and customer service teams ensuring that they give amazing service experiences, if the marketing or support staff does not support them, because to the client, it is all customer service.

“[Businesses] need to be more aware of what truly affects the client, and everybody in your organisation has an important role to play in serving your customers.”

Another pitfall principals fall in to is investing big bucks into gimmick-style technology that seeks to replace customer service, rather than enhancing the service their staff already provides.

“I see organisations spend thousands of dollars on updating their database and their computer systems so they can stay in touch with their clients and do more effective marketing, and then I walk into their front door and the receptionist doesn’t greet me with a smile and a welcoming attitude,” says Cross.

“We are in a time where it is all ‘high tech’, which is wonderful and it adds great value to our ability to serve, however in a high tech world we still need to be ‘high touch’.

“There are a lot of people that would be more comfortable texting a customer from the back room saying, ‘Hi, welcome to our company, have a seat and I will be right with you’, than actually walking up, looking them in the eye, and saying the same thing.

“[Customer service] needs to be learnt, practised and managed.”

So, what can principals do to ensure their support staff are delivering fantastic customer service day in, day out?

The first step is to make their receptionist, personal assistant or marketing staff feel important, says Cross.

“If everybody is important, then everybody should be made to feel important,” says Cross.

“Remember that within a team, we are serving each other, so thank your support staff, receptionists, and marketing teams, because without them you wouldn’t get to look anywhere near as good as you do!”

The next step, and perhaps the most critical, is to teach your support staff the skill of customer service.

Cross says just like you wouldn’t trust a brand new hairdressing apprentice with a pair of scissors and long tresses, the same mentality should still apply with new staff approaching the front desk of a real estate business.

“Service, like skills, has to be taught, managed and monitored,” says Cross.

“So why would the real estate industry be any different?

“It just can’t be left up to the individual to decide what they believe is a good standard of service.”

Whether it’s through in-house training, external conferences or professional development days, Cross says principals will never regret developing the customer service skills of their support staff.

And while the cost and time away of work may sound daunting to some, Cross suggests the ramifications of not investing in the development of support staff far outweighs these two factors.

“I have heard people complain about investing money in their team to train them in customer service because after they have invested in and trained them they sometimes leave,” says Cross.

“The important thing to remember is, what happens if you don’t train them and they stay?”

To hear more of Julie Cross’ expert insights on customer service, be sure to pick up your tickets at REIQ summit. Cross is just one of an array of incredible, thought-provoking, and insightful speakers presenting at this year’s event.