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Go for the Gold: How Better Service Can Win You a Spot Atop the Podium

August 10 2012

What is better anyway?

recognitionFor world-class Olympic athletes, better is faster, higher, stronger. Olympic events are carefully defined and competitors are measured in hundredths and thousandths of a second or an inch.

Service has become a world-class event. Two-thirds of the global economy (greater than 80% of the U.S.) has migrated from a manufacturing base to service. That makes service serious business and, in essence, a world-class event.

Athletes competing at the highest levels train vigorously. They meticulously track performance, exercise great discipline, utilize technology and employ specialized resources to improve performance. World-class athletes recognize the value of performance feedback and understand the importance of common standards of performance measurement.

Is there something to be learned from this?

There certainly is. In business, the consumer is the Olympic committee. Consumers define the events and judge the results. Most industries, especially manufacturing and technology, have long embraced faster, higher, stronger concepts and the metrics that go with them. Common standards have become pretty common.

In the service sector and especially in real estate services, it's more common for the service provider or each organization to define the event, decide what to measure and to develop its own measurement standards - it's convenient that way.

But the service provider doesn't make the rules in today's economy, the consumer does. World-class competitors in business today are totally focused on consumer-defined events and are passionate about measuring their performance results with common standards and common metrics. And the evidence is clear that progress follows process.

As the level of competition intensifies in athletics or in commerce, some other changes emerge: Teamwork, specialization, technology, systems, performance feedback, improvement and even tougher competitors.

So what is faster, higher, stronger in real estate service, and who really excels? The measurement standards in real estate services have always been production based - without the balance of how good or how well. The belief is that "doing a lot is doing well."

Do these traditional standards and metrics of "production performance" fit as well today? Do production standards and measurements without qualitative standards and measurements reflect a consumer centered business environment? But of course real estate is different.

Real estate service is more like other businesses with the passing of each week. When brokers and practitioners completely controlled the information, they made the rules and controlled the game. That's over; the consumer is in charge. In the digital age, control of information is at the very least undergoing redefinition.

Control comes from responding to the changing needs and interests of consumers by delivering a better, more valuable and satisfying total service experience. Control comes from attracting customers and retaining them by delivering a superior service experience. In the professional services arena, that means offering consistency, reliability, accountability, responsiveness and taking responsibility, fixing things when they go wrong.

Real estate sales professionals are like competitive athletes. They play to win and enjoy winning. But the rules have changed. If we continue to define winning as selling more without truly serving better, that's losing. Serving better means delivering more value and greater service satisfaction, and requires a legitimate system for measuring the results, benchmarking and assessing feedback.

Will the independent contractor/agent accept change and respond positively? They will with enthusiasm. But a meaningful quality service focus that meets the needs of the consumer must also benefit the professional. Awards, recognition and rewards for professionals must go beyond the single dimension of production. Production standards should be balanced with quality standards so that everyone's interests are aligned and everyone benefits.

To achieve that requires providing systems, support, technology, performance feedback, awards and recognition and unbiased results validation just as it does for any world-class performance.

Accepting the reality that today the consumer defines the game and determines the rules, then playing to win means winning a new way. The most intense era of competition to serve and retain customers in real estate services is just beginning. Providing quality service is serious business. Those who are serious about service not just serious about sales will be the ultimate winners.

Other articles of interest: dsSearchAgent IDX | Top Producer IDX