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Learning to "Listen" to the customer/client

I wrote a post earlier in the year about how not everyone embraces technology.  You see I had gotten pretty cocky around 2002 because a couple years earlier I was the 1st one to have IDX technology on my website.   Several clients raved about this service and I took it for granted that everyone wanted to use it.

I went on to say in that post that I lost a client because I asked if they had access to the internet and they said "Yes"  I told these clients to go to my site and sign up to receive automatic emails and let me know when they are emailed listings from my site that interest them. 

I ended up loosing these clients because they didn't embrace the internet even though they had access to it.  I had learned a valuable lesson that hurt big time but was one I needed to learn.

Three weeks ago I was referred an out of state client that is an "A" client and will be investing a large amount of money in Idaho over the next 6 months.   After having a long conversation with this client I asked him if he had access to the internet and to email. He responded by saying "Yes, I have both".

Thinking back to the clients I lost a few years back I asked this new client if he wanted me to email him new property listings, mail him, or call him.  He responded by saying that he wanted me to call him.  He explained to me that he lived in a remote area off Oregon and had a slow dial-up service for access to the internet and he wasn't really into email even though he had it.  He is a 3rd generation farmer and there are many other things that are more important to him.

He then went on to "Thank Me" for asking him how he wanted information relayed to him.  He said he had spoken to another Realtor in another state a month prior and all that agent could talk about was his "cool technology".  He went on to say that he never felt comfortable with that agent.

Thanks to my prior hard lesson I was quick thinking enough to ask this new client how he wanted information relayed and it appears this will pay big dividends.  We have since had several conversations and he will be here on Thanksgiving day week.

Remember that just because technology is embraced by the vast majority of people in our society, there are still those out there that don't feel comfortable with many facets of technology.

Knowing what people want and how they want it will pay big dividends and build a trust and comfort feeling that is so important.

Native Idahoan and Boise Idaho Real Estate specialist serving Boise, Meridian Eagle, Nampa, Caldwell and the surrounding Treasure valley area of southwest Idaho. Specializing in residential, investment, land and commercial real estate. Search thousands of MLS listings at Boise Homes for sale and learn all about Idaho by visiting Search Idaho Homes

Comment balloon 24 commentsGeorge Tallabas • November 10 2007 09:01PM

Comments

George -- you are so right.  We must always customize our services to the NEEDS of the client.  Ultimately, it is about relationship building -- and listening to what it is we can do to assist the client in reaching their goals (not ours).
Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 11 years ago
Joan - Thank you and yes, relationship building is the key. Have a great weekend.
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 11 years ago

George - as always - a wonderful post.

Recently I was working with a young couple (late 20's) in trying to find them their very first home.  I made a terrible assumption that because of their ages and occupations that they were high-tech 'kids' and that email would be the preferred channel for information.

During a conversation I nonchalantly asked, "So, give me your email and I'll make sure you get listings at least once a day."  Well, the answer I got was a little odd to me:  "We don't have email.  We don't even have a computer.  I just use one at work."

I felt very bad for having made an assumption (and we all know what assume means!) that was based on their ages.  

Your post reminds all of us to be a little more considerate when providing information to our clients. 

Posted by Carol Smith (Casmi Photography) over 11 years ago
I have also found that some clients want the "personal touch" while others prefer email.  You are smart to remember a lesson learned so long ago!
Posted by Sheri Sanders, Realtor/Broker - Easley, SC Real Estate (Berkshire Hathaway C Dan Joyner Realtors) over 11 years ago

Carol - Thank you my friend and we all must learn this valuable lesson.

Sheri - Very, very true. The personal touch is so very important.

Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 11 years ago
One size does not fit all. In order to serve our clients, we must first get to know them and not assume anything. Asking the right questions is oh so important. Thanks for the reminder and the tip.
Posted by Gail Reeves Reid (Re/Max Realty Specialists) over 11 years ago
Gail - So very true and you are very welcome
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 11 years ago
George, Great way to treat your clients. It is good to remember that what is more convenient for us is not necessarily the same for everyone else.
Posted by Roberta LaRocca, REALTOR®, Broker, Salesperson, Property Management (Simply Vegas Real Estate) over 11 years ago
George, thank you for this reminder.  I think we're all guilty of letting technology be in the forefront of our business at times when listening and personal service should be in the forefront.  Great job!
Posted by Kris Wales, Real Estate Blog & Homes for Sale search site, Macomb County MI (Keller Williams Realty - Lakeside Market Center) over 11 years ago

I hear you on this one! I have had several clients who while they have acess they are not tech savvy and feel uncomfortable with it. I have to be careful to listen to the tone of the response regarding internet as well as what they say. Often the tone will tell me so much more than the words being spoken. The art of Listening is essential in a good REALTOR!

 

Vanessa

Posted by Vanessa Stalets, REALTOR, Brentwood TN Homes, Real Estate (RE/MAX Elite) over 11 years ago

"Why would anyone want a computer in their home?"

Rings a bell from deep in the past.  And some people still haven't answered that question.

Knowing how clients want to communicate is fundamental. 

 

Posted by Mike Jaquish, 919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate (Realty Arts) over 11 years ago
Ohhhhh, good reminder to ask George. I was on the football committe a few years back and we found that many, of the parents don't use email or check very often. So it was hard to alert them of changes, so we asked them how they wanted to contact and most said leave a voice mail on the home phone.
Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) over 11 years ago
George - On my listing appointments, I make a point to ask the sellers how they would like for me to communicate with them on a weekly basis. The majority say email is great, but I have had a few older sellers say that they do not check their email frequently and phone is best. What I have found is although the old way of the phone is less productive for us as agents, I have developed my best relationships through phone.
Posted by Jill Wente, Realtor, CRS, MCNE, CHMS (Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate | Gary Greene) over 11 years ago

Roberta - Thank you my friend and all my best

Kris - You are very welcome and good luck to you

Vanessa - The art of "Listening" is paramount!  Have a great day

Mike - Many people have them but don't embrass them. It is not for use to quesiton but for use to listen to their needs.

Missy - Great point and so very true

Jill - Keep up the great job!

Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 11 years ago
Hi George, this is a perfect example of a well-learned lesson.  Listening is definitely important..we must always remind ourselves of that :)
Posted by Vickie Arcuri, South Florida Luxury Real Estate (ONE Sotheby's International Realty) over 11 years ago
Vickie - Thank you my friend.  I hope you had a wonderful weekend.
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 11 years ago

George:  Asking the client how they want you to communicate puts them in charge.  That's where they're most comfortable.  I'm subscribing to your blog; thanks for posting useful stuff.

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) over 11 years ago
Mike - Thank you and I hope all is well
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 11 years ago

Good post, you have to gear your information to the client. I ask a lot of questions and make the cleint talk more than me first........I get to know a lot about them and can then gear my info to their learning style. Reflection back on what they have said works well too

Anne

Posted by Tucson Real Estate Experts Anne McKechnie, Previews Property Specialist (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 11 years ago
Ann and Eddie - Thank you for stopping by and all my best.
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 11 years ago
Very good advice. One of our best traits in this business is "Listening" Thanks
Posted by Christina Williams. REALTOR® TN property search & local insights (First Realty Company) over 11 years ago
Christiana - Thank you and yes so true
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 11 years ago
Wow Goerge, I don't think that would have occurred to me... My 87 year-young aunt is very proud of how proficient she is on the computer, internet and email... so I have no been that senstive to those around me that aren't thanks for this heads up!
Posted by Eva Armstrong, Environmental Visions (Environmental Visions) over 11 years ago
Eva - Thanks my friend...we just need to be open to hearing what the client wants and needs.
Posted by George Tallabas, Idaho Real Estate (RE/MAX Advantage) over 11 years ago

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