Mapping Your Purpose
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been hearing a certain word that starts with the letter ‘R’ a lot lately and the word isn’t Real…as in Real Estate. Thought of it yet? You got it, the word is Relevant.
Definition: Relevant – Adjective. First meaning = Closely connected or appropriate to what is being done or considered.
I think I can safely say that we all want to feel like the work we do or service we provide is relevant. Otherwise, what’s the point? Consumers are sending clear messages to agents about what their value is to them as sellers/buyers. There is no question that agents are now, and will continue to be relevant in the real estate industry – but they won’t be able to maintain this relevance if they aren’t willing to change and embrace what consumers want. Sellers and buyers want convenience, choice, and control over what decisions need to be made. Providing this level of expertise and service has never been more important.
I love the part in the definition about being closely connected. Consumers are flocking to technology tools that feed them information, images, options, and most of all convenience. The fact that they’re utilizing these tools doesn’t replace the connection they make with the key people involved in their purchase – Real Estate Agent, Transaction Coordinator, Lender, Inspector, Stager, Title & Escrow Closer, for example.
To be thoroughly connected, you need to walk in the shoes of your customer for at least part of their journey. To be clear, I don’t mean just you. I mean everyone on your team. That includes the list of pros above plus any others that might be needed during the transaction (can you say structural engineer?).
Mapping out the journey of a seller or buyer can be eye opening when you identify, write down, and visualize the path they find themselves on during a home sale or purchase. Those pain points really tend to stand out when you take the time to find them. Once found, you have the opportunity to figure out how to make the painful parts disappear.
Take a look at this brief, sample map of a buyer’s process journey:
This map shows the typical steps, but it doesn’t uncover where the pain points might be. Each of the steps on this map could have issues crop up where improvements could be made.
The whole purpose behind journey mapping is to pinpoint exactly what a customer experiences every step along their path. This isn’t just so there is documentation, although that’s a nice benefit, it helps to gather up all of the gaps, inefficiencies, and inconveniences that might not be evident at first glance. Ideas on where to make improvements will come automatically and everyone will reap the rewards. Going through the exercise of journey mapping on an ongoing basis can be used to differentiate your service level from others and that means better client reviews, retention, and best of all – referrals. Another bonus — managing your professional network. You’ll be able to track how well your network performs by collecting how many times complaints or issues arise between different transactions. Communicating with the companies you choose to work with is a key component to exceeding client expectations, so knowing all of the touch points with your extended team will pay dividends.
Most of the chatter surrounding customer journey maps are from a SaaS (Software as a Service) point of view but I think you can clearly see how mapping out the experience of a home seller or home buyer can bring up painful or stressful times where adding a proactive, preemptive task might reduce or completely remove the offending issue. Many times, you find yourself dealing with issues during the exact time when you want nothing but perfection in the process…because that all but ensures not just one referral, but several. If you could be aware of communication points where the odds would be on your side to make tweaks to your workflow to minimize potential fallout – would that be worth the effort?
The final cog in this wheel is making the choice to work with companies in your professional network that place the customer first and who already fit into this mindset. Companies that use technology not just as a buzzword but as a means to rewire the current substandard state that serves to improve a customer’s convenience, awareness, and overall experience, are the ones you want at the top of your professional network list.
I recently read a quote while checking out a Google Weekly Thought-Starter email that resonated with me on this topic. Customers expect to be “wowed” from the moment they start shopping on their mobile device to when they step foot in your stores (in your case, homes). If you and your team aren’t testing and learning daily to improve the customer experience, then you’re likely already behind.
Do any of us want to be behind? Be relevant. Be connected. Learn about your customer.
Get in touch!