Got a minute? If you're a busy manager, that's about all you have. That's why Carla Cross, management coach, speaker, and author, has created this blog just for you, with ready-to-use tips to master management through people.

Archive for customer service

man with hair in airDo you say your agents are your ‘customers’? Many brokers call their agents their a�?customersa��. We thought that, by calling our agents our customers, we would please them, create loyalty and forge recruiting tools. This trend of calling agents a�?customersa�� was a reaction to the old-style a�?father knows besta�� top-down management. Not a bad thought, but, unfortunately, too limiting. We assumed that, if we provided the services agents wanted, everything would be wonderful. If you’re considering your agents your customers, has it worked out the way you expected?

Who is Your Real Customer?

That thought process has sure gotten us into trouble. Why? Because we forgot that the person who actually pays commissions is called a a�?buyera�� or a a�?sellera��a��the end user. If the end user is unhappy, they vote with their feet. The result of our lack of focusing on the end user is plummeting commissions and alternative a�?agent-litea�� companies, relying much more on technology than personal service.

The bigger business world got it long ago. When is the last time you were asked about the level of service in a business you were using? Ia��ll bet you are asked at least once a week. The bigger world of business discovered long ago that they had to satisfy the needs of the consumer-and that those needs were escalating by the minute.

How do we put the real consumer first, providing the services that make them so happy they would never leave us?


  1. Quit hiring non-committed agents. They simply will not do the work, create a business, and serve consumer needs to warrant a a�?generousa�� commission. If your agents don’t go to work, it doesn’t matter what you do for them or the services you provide.
  2. Establish standards of production for your agents. What do you expect of thema��and when? What do your standards say about you?
  3. Accept that a low-producing agent cannot and does not provide excellent servicea��and the consumer knows that. If you have many low-producing agents, what level of service are they providing? What does that say about you and your company?
  4. Pretend you are a consumer. Which of your agents would you want to work with? Which of your agents wouldna��t you want to buy a home from?

If your agents aren’t your customers, what are they? Perhaps partners, as one very successful franchise has termed them. You decide. If, in fact, you’re leaning toward ‘partners’, you must establish communications, culture, and values that reflect a partnership–not just call your agents ‘partners’!

LM CoverCould You Use some Help Refining your Leadership Style?

What is your leadership style? How well is it working? Do you want to expand, refine, or re-define it to reflect your values and those of the kind of person you want to recruit today? It’s difficult to do that on your own, and you also need the systems to back up your works. Leadership Mastery Coaching can guide you through the process.

Why not have a complimentary consultation with Carla CrossA� to see if Leadership Mastery Coaching is for you?

Do your agents have a trust ‘issue’ with their clients? (Look for the Trust Evaluator link below. Use it with your agents to test their ‘trust quotients’–great meeting topic).

We’re always telling our agents to ‘work smarter’, not harder. Yet, what does that mean? For one thing, in this low-trust world, it means creating highA�trust as a foundation for any sales action and decision. Yet, in the ‘on fire’ market of the past, agents didn’t have to work very hard at creating trust. The market forced decisions and the consumers ended up buying from an agent they may not really know. Those days are over.

Why Creating Trust is a $$$ Issue

Do you know how much more it costs to get a new client than to keep an old one? Marketers tell us 6-9 times more. So, it’s just good business sense to train your agents to create high trust with clients for return and referral business.

How You Can Help Your Agents Create Trust

Salespeople can’t sell anything to anyone without first establishing an exceptional level of trust–an increasingly difficult thing to do. The ten tips below shared on in a recent radio show help sales professionals build a ‘platinum level’ of trust.

Five Tips to Raise your Agents’ Client Trust Levels

Here are 5 tips, with special comments to you as a leader–in blue.

1. Learn non-verbal skills and apply them in writing, on the phone, and in person to establish rapport in an increasingly a�?cold inquirya�� world.A�

Are you teaching them Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NL))? Are you working with them to pace and mirror in interactive workshops?

2. We believe what others say about a salesperson, not what the salesperson says about themselves. Use testimonials; check evaluation websites to see what consumers are saying about you.

Are you checking out what the consumers are saying about your agents on the web?

Look atA� and

3. Create an after-the-sale survey and use it consistently. If therea��s something wrong, fix it fast.

Do you have an after sale survey that you send out from the office? How do you handle surveys that are less than stellar?

4. We believe what we see, not what we hear. Show, dona��t tell. Use visual presentations consistently.

Are you working with your agents to practice showing evidence?

5. Flip your sales presentations. Ask questionsa��lots of questionsa��first. Educate. Finally, sell (well, you wona��t have to sell).

Do you have a planned presentation you teach agents–and have them practice until they are ‘killer’?

Click here to get your Trust Evaluator.

Real estate managers: What do buyers really want from your agents? Yes, we can guess, but, do we really know? As some of you know, Ia��ve been a musician almost all my life. From the time I was four, I was a�?tickling the ivoriesa��.A�A�As you can imagine, Ia��ve been through countless examinations, ratings, adjudications, and contests. Ia��m very familiar with rating systems. One of the ways to get great performance is to know by which perimeters youa��ll be evaluated.

A�How Would your AgentsA�Rate a ’10’?

For example: What would constitute the consumers rating yourA� agentA�a a�?10a�� (out of 10)? Ita��s very frustrating when you dona��t know what great performance looks, sounds, and feels like. If youa��ve ever been evaluated and gotten a less than stellar evaluation, you know how frustrating it is to be rated as less than stellara��but not know what constituted a�?greata�� in the eyes of those rating us.A�A�A�

Read What Consumers Want from Buyersa�� Agents

A�Besides surveying buyers and asking them to rate agents, the California Association of Realtors asked buyers exactly what they wanted from those buyersa�� agents. Here’s what buyers said:

A�A�What We Can Learn to Help Us Get those Great Ratings

A�As you can see, consumers expectedA�agents to be experts at whateverA�they were doing. They dona��t wantA�agents to try to help them in areas whereA�they’re not competent (like trying to sell foreclosures without adequate education).A� What does that mean to us? The obvious. IfA�our agentsA�going to delve into short sales and foreclosures,A� our agents A�need to dedicateA�themselves to becoming an expert.

My question to you managers/trainers: Are you specifically training to the skills consumers (buyers) said they wanted from their agents? What does your training schedule look like? Do you have a training calendar that includes these areas? What areas are you training to, right now, that fulfil consumer demands?

What does the consumer want? DeliveringA�to their satisfactionA�means more money, less time, and a better business fpr us. Wouldna��t you love to hear people talking about your agents A�in the most glowing terms? Would you love to help your agents doubleA�their eferral business while cutting your marketing costs by 75%? You can. Read on.A�

Would you agree? The more we can fulfill the clienta��s expectations, the more referrals we can expect from that client. A�And, we all know referrals is the name of the game. Referrals cost us much less, and the client referred to us loves us already. Plus, by making the client ecstatic, we have a reason to charge those generous commissions we lovea��and we should.

A�Obvious Question–Not an Obvious Customer-Agent Service Match

You may the above question and answer are obvious. But, we should slow down and really think about it. Why? Because the gap between client expectations and general agent performance has, in the evaluation of the consumer, become a chasm. And, unless we can breach that gap, our commissions will keep sliding downward.

A�Time to Think a�?Outside Ina��

A�As you read this, stop yourself from thinking a�?inside outa�� (What we like to think about ourselves). I, like you, have spent most of my adult working life as a Realtor. I sold hundreds of homes. I hired, trained, and coached thousands of agents. Ita��s painful for me, as it is for all of us, to look at ourselves from a�?the outsidea��. But, if we want to sustain our practices in the best way possible, we have to close that gap between what we think of ourselves and what consumers think of our practices. We have to think a�?outside ina�� (look at ourselves from the consumer perspective).

A�Buyers Talka��Leta��s ListenA�

Take a look at this survey of 2009 from the California Association of Realtors.


A�CAR asked buyers to rate the overall satisfaction level with their buyera��s agent. Wow! 4 out of 100! Now, I know thata��s not true of your agents, but, it is what those thousands of buyers rated those thousands of agents they dealt with. Is 4 out of 100 good enough to get referrals? Is it good enough to sustain a�?generousa�� commission levels? I dona��t think so, do you?

A�Our Reputation as an Industry is Impacted By Every Agenta��s PracticeA�

Yes. I know most Realtors are independent contractors. We like to think we are not impacted by othersa�� practices. But, in truth, study after study shows we are. The consumer judges us generally by the level of practice of the agent with whom they have contact. Then, we a�?inherita�� that reputationa��whether we earned it or not. And, when we have that less than sterling reputation, we have to dig ourselves out of the hole to prove wea��re not a�?one of thosea��. Ita��s there, and we have to recognize it.A�

What do YOU Think?

What do you think the consumer wants that he/she’s not getting? In the next blog, I’ll show you what they said (what they wanted from buyers).

What do you think clients think of agents in general–and who are they telling?

A recent California Association of Realtors’ survey of buyers revealed that buyers rated their overall experience at an all time low: 4 out of 100!

What does this mean about the level of customer service clients think they’re getting from agents? If you said, a�?Not much.a�? Youa��re right. And, now, clients have a way to let everyone and their brother know what they think of their agent. Check out

These are agent feedback sites. Youa��ll see the good, the bad, and the ugly. In fact, youa��ll be stunned, I think, at the impact a testimonial has in writinga��on the net.

This is a huge trend: Clients providing feedback that can be accessed by everyone. Now, even Realtor Associations, like the Houston Association of Realtors, is regularly surveying membersa�� buyers and sellers for feedback. Expect this trend to get bigger quickly.

What You Need to Do

First, check those sites (and others as they appear) regularly. There are some stunningly wonderful–and some stunningly awful–reviews on those sites. As the marketers know, a bad review is ‘tattled’ by 9 more people!

Second, collect surveys from each transaction regularly. If they aren’t wonderful, fix it fast. The consumer is increasingly relying on what others say, not on what we say about our service. Be on the cutting edge of the curve, not way behind it.

If you’d like my survey, click here.

Lots of Room For Growth

Recently, I was speaking to a group of ‘old pros’ in the Minneapolis area. I surveyed them and found that only about 20% sent out surveys! But, that’s not much different from the normal agent population. It’s time we got into the 21st century and did some basic marketing, to keep our businesses healthy!

Have you ever met anyone who would admit they provided poor customer service? Ia��ll bet not. Yet, wea��ve all stood around waiting in a restaurant to be noticeda��while the hostess or server gossiped with the other staffa��and then seemed as though we were interrupting something important to want to be served!

How would you rate your agents on customer service? Are they working from the ‘eyes of the beholder’ or are they thinking ‘inside out’? (from their point of view)

Which Service Would You Recommend?

I just experienced a situation thata��s a good example of good and terrible customer service. I wanted a pop-up window on my new website ( to invite viewers to get my new eBook, Getting to Yes: Ten Powerful Tools to Bash those Barriers to Purchasing Today and join my newsletter community. So, in May, I ordered and paid for the recommended pop-up. I got a receipt from the credit card company. Thata��s all I got. I didna��t get any follow-up emailsa��no communication.

When I got ready to implement the pop-up, the website wouldna��t let me register! So, I emailed AND called the owner. He didna��t respond. I called and emailed again. He didna��t respond. This went on for 3-4 weeks. Finally, I got frustrated and bought a different pop-up.

A Different Experience

I immediately got a welcome email from the second company. Then, I got 2 more emails. And, I finally got the 4th emaila��all within the first week. Each email thanked me for being a customer and offered me helpful tips.

A Little Latea��..

Right after I gave up on that first pop-up, the owner emailed me with the log in information.

So, which pop-up do you think I kept, and which pop-up did I ask for my money back? You got it.

Customer service is 90% of sales today.

Our Experiences Let Us Be Fortune Tellers

I dona��t know for sure, do I, whichA� pop-up will provide the best on-going service. I dona��t know which pop-up is best. But, what I do know, is that, given my experience, the first pop-up isna��t going to help me out if I get stuck!

What About Your Agents’ Service

What does your agents’A� response rate say about them? Do they have a a�?professional rulea�� about when you respond to inquiries? Most agents dona��t. In fact, a recent National Association of Realtors survey said that half the Realtors NEVER respond to internet inquiries.

Ita��s So Easy to Stand Out from the Crowd

You dona��t have to be a top producer. You dona��t have to be a technical genius. All you have to do to succeed is to put yourself in your customera��s shoes and think,

a�?How would I like to be treated? How would I like to be answered? What makes me trust a person? What makes me walk away from the product or service?a�? Youa��ve got it. Youa��re on your way to a stellar reputation and business.