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Why ‘five-star service’ is the new standard

My previous article argued that you need to know enough about the law, home structures and The Planning Act to not only do your job correctly but to also avoid a lawsuit. While true, there’s one more thing that agents must learn to do: deliver five-star service.

The Salesforce State of the Connected Customer report says that 48 per cent of Baby Boomers, 58 per cent of Gen Xers, 63 per cent of Millennials and 61 per cent of Gen Zers expect companies to anticipate their needs. This expectation is a result of the personalization and instant support they receive when doing almost all of their shopping, traveling and generally living.

As more Millennials and Gen Zers, who are willing to pay for experience, enter the marketplace, they’ll want to work with real estate professionals who understand how to deliver top-notch service. In fact, a cursory review of the complaints submitted to the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) shows that most complaints are about poor delivery of service and a failure to anticipate the needs of buyers and sellers. Examples from RECO’s summaries of complaints hammer home that you can avoid complaints by consistently delivering experiences of exceptional quality. Here are some examples:

The buyer’s representative booked a showing, which he attended alone without his clients, without clarifying the intent of the showing with the sellers. Additionally, the buyer’s representative left his shoes on during the appointment.

The listing for the subject property indicated that showings would start on a specific date. The buyer’s representative called to book an appointment closer to that date and was informed that the property was sold.

The buyer’s representative paid a visit to the unit without prior notice to the seller.

During a home inspection, the buyer’s representative failed to ensure that the buyer did not bring their children to the appointment and failed to supervise the buyers, who used the seller’s blanket and toys without consent.

The buyer’s representative failed to attend and cancel the showing appointment.

The property manager found the registrant’s advertising board placed in front of their property signage, without permission. The registrant stated that he did not place the signage at that location and when he went to remove it, the sign was no longer there.

What’s the theme? Common courtesy, certainly. But more than ever there is demand for top-quality delivery of service. Agents must have a five-star level of service; especially as poor service will likely result in a loss of future business.

However, in one’s efforts to deliver excellent service, this shouldn’t be conflated with an overzealous interpretation of one’s fiduciary duties. For example, slightly more than a year ago, RECO’s Discipline Committee fined a Realtor who knew that the seller concealed a broken hot tub by covering it with a wooden deck. The buyers obtained a house inspection, but the inspector never identified that a hot tub was on the property, as it was hidden. The buyers found out about the broken hot tub sometime after they bought the home because it started to smell (it was filled with water and decomposing rats).

In my years working with Realtors, I can imagine that the selling agent thought he was protecting the interests of his client by not revealing what he likely thought was a problem that no longer existed. After all, discretion and fierce loyalty to one’s client is part of what it means to deliver exemplary service.

What agents must learn on top of legal, structural and zoning matters is the difference between exemplary service and not lying about the state of the property. Understanding this distinction is imperative to not only ensure you have a happy client and that you meet new customer expectations but also because RECO will be broadening its powers to investigate a registrant’s conduct whether or not there is a formal complaint. As such, Realtors everywhere should ask questions of their customers as to how their customers would like to communicate and their expectations of the Realtor. And then the Realtor better deliver on these expectations. It’s clear that the new consumer demands it – and so will RECO.