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Is Technology a Scapegoat for Poor Customer Service?

September 03 2012

The other day, I spotted an interesting post in one of the many real estate groups on Facebook. In the post, an agent suggested that electronic signatures result in poor customer service. The agent went on to opine that it is impossible for agents to fulfill their obligation to review the contract with their client when all they are doing is sending it over with (essentially) a button to push for signature.

This agent’s perspective might be more widely held than I realized. But it’s one, to be frank, with which I disagree. Let’s take a look at both perspectives.

The Argument
If I’m not mistaken, this particular agent’s argument was that electronic signatures negatively impact customer service because an agent does not have to be present when a document is signed electronically and thus their clients are missing out on the line-by-line explanation and analysis.

What isn’t being mentioned is that each agent has a choice whether or not they will be present during an electronic signing. They must use their discretion to determine whether or not their client could benefit from additional explanation and handholding. Just because you’re clicking or using a stylus instead of an ink pen, it doesn’t mean you cannot be present at a signing.

Now, on the other side of this argument, I can come up with multiple ways that electronic signatures actually allow real estate agents to improve their customer service. A few examples:

  • When an in-person meeting isn’t desired or required, electronic signatures save time by allowing clients to sign wherever and whenever it’s convenient for them.
  • Many electronic signature solutions have built-in functionality that alerts signers when a signature or initials are missing. This prevents documents from being returned incomplete and causing problems or inconvenience down the road.

Of course, those are just a few the benefits for your customer – I’m not even mentioning the potential benefits to your business.

The Big Picture
Further, let’s not pick on electronic signatures. The truth is that many other technology innovations have encountered much the same bad rap. For example: “Because of email, agents are not calling their clients or seeing them in person as much as they used to,” or “Because of cell phones, everyone is so busy texting and checking their email that they’re not focusing on the task at hand and the people they’re with.”

It’s true – these things happen . . . and technology may make it easier to slack on customer service under certain circumstances. But these things happen because we let them. My opinion is that any service provider (real estate agent, attorney, accountant, etc.) is directly responsible for the level of customer service they provide. Technology is inanimate (despite what Hal from “2001: A Space Odyssey” may have led you to believe) – YOU have the power to use it properly or abuse it.

Talk to Us
We’d love to hear your opinions on this issue! Have technology innovations (electronic signatures in particular) helped or hurt your customer service?