What’s the goal here?
Here we have reached the perfect outcome. Someone has learned we even exist, been impressed at each touch point, committed to instruct you and has made it through to the moment they’ve been waiting for – your report. They’ve read it through – but do they understand what it means in reality?
Reading through a report can be like the moment someone tells you the clocks are going back. You think you understand what that means and then you find yourself asking if that’s the good one or the bad one. Do I get an hour of extra sleep or the opportunity to get out of bed an hour earlier?
That follow up call to talk the customer through their report and answer any concerns is invaluable. Making sure they have correctly understood where you are referring to in the property for each issue and how severe the issues really are is hugely important to their next steps. Either they could commit to purchase having downplayed issues in their mind or walk away thinking everything needed fixing immediately. Either outcome is not desirable.
Why did they get a survey in the first place?
To add the most possible value at this stage you need to consider the specific motivations for why your customer wanted their survey in the first place. Were they worried about if the property was in a good condition? Did they want to extend the property and wanted to know if it was possible? Was their main concern damp in the living room? Did they want to know if major works were needed in the first few years?
Focusing on their core reason for getting a survey means you can focus your conversation on putting them at ease with this topic. Leaving this question with a question mark means the process hasn’t added the full value it should have.
After addressing their core motivations it is important to run through the key ‘problems’ found to make sure they are clear on the severity. What is actually quite a standard issue and not too difficult to sort out? What doesn’t seem like much but actually should be really thought through? For your to get the full benefit of your report, it is paramount that you make sure they truly understand it.
Ultimately, this stage is about making the customer feel calmer about their initial concerns and any that have arisen since reading your report. Following the report and a call with you, the customer should feel confident about proceeding with their purchase, renegotiating the price based on justifications in the report or walking away knowing they’ve dodged a bullet.
How to add value on the call
First things first, ask the customer if they have any immediate questions. If these aren’t addressed first, the customer may be distracted until they are. Methodically run through each point ensuring they understand the condition, the realities to put something right and how soon they’d need to do it.
Run through any other severe or important points you have and answer any other points that were raised in your initial call before the survey.
Then ask them about their next steps. You can really add value for your customer if you ask them how they are feeling about their report and their next steps. This can really uncover if a customer has understood your report. Your customer also may not be aware of their options. They may feel pressured into buying the property no matter what because they have got this far in the process. They may falsely feel they need to walk away. They may not realise they are within their rights to renegotiate on price or on having works carried out as part of the sale terms. Helping to support your customer in their next steps is as important as the information in the report. Information is only valuable if you know how to act next.
If your customer is really concerned about what they should do next, let them know they can contact you again if they need to clarify any further points as they mull things over. Most customers won’t need to but knowing that support is there is important at a big decision making point in the buying process.
Schedule that follow up call
It’s important to follow up with every customer post-report. Some will call you, others may feel like their questions are silly and shy away from asking those important questions. Others will be happy. But all will appreciate the follow-up. But you don’t want to take calls to run through reports when you’re driving or inspecting another property. Distractions like this are not only unproductive but don’t allow you to have the customers report ready in front of you before the conversation has started. If the customer calls you 3 weeks after their report, you don’t want to spend the first 5 minutes of the call trying to remember all the details.
Routine… is the best way to ensure you follow up with every customer, you’re prepared before the call and you don’t lose time jumping between tasks. It also prevents customers becoming frustrated when they keep trying to call you about their report and you can’t answer because you’re busy with other tasks.
Whilst you may want to take all sales calls as they come in to prevent missing out on new jobs (remember we said how much response time affects conversion rates), you can let customers know when you’ll be available each day to run through reports. Most people will be happy to fit in with that and schedule a time. They don’t have to feel like they are playing potluck and you can plan your day.
Finding the time in your routine
There are lots of admin processes when running a business. Dealing quickly with sales enquiries, sorting payments, chasing payments, sorting terms, chasing terms, updating customers on bookings, writing reports and following up after sending them (to name a few).
Automating processes that don’t actually need you to do them can give you back hours. Hours that you can spend focusing on adding value (or down the pub!). Pre-sales calls, doing surveys and following up afterwards add value. Anything admin based is a distraction and a cost to your business. You and your team are a finite resource. You can only do so many tasks per day. Removing and automating these unnecessary ones allow you and your team to focus on the areas that actually add value, that actually make a difference to the customer experience.
Building a Long-Term Pipeline
The post-survey call doesn’t need to be the end of the process and the end of adding value. Here are some ideas that can help you add even more value for your customers, increase the chance of them recommending you to others and even remembering to call you in 10 years when they next move – most moves aren’t that far (the median distance was 9 miles in 2018).
- Make a note of customers that still seemed worried during their post-survey call. Follow up with them a week or so later to see how they are getting on and if you can provide any further support. This won’t be many customers but will mean the world to those more extreme cases.
- Who wanted to ask advice once they had moved in? Make a note to speak to them in a few months time.
- Provide a ‘making the most of your purchase guide’. This can provide notes about when to carry out general maintenance such as clearing gutters and other general maintenance to keep the house in order. It could provide pitfalls to avoid when doing renovations such as building the height of drives and paths above the DPC. It could even have a personalised page listing estimated timelines for maintenance highlighted in their report to aid with budget planning. If it adds value, it is something a customer will store to refer to keeping your company name available to them. It might even be something they share with others.
The whole point of the process has been reached now. If the customer leaves with all the answers and information they need to feel confident in their next steps and they had an easy process along the way then this has been a great customer experience.
When submitting your report, let the customer know they can book a follow-up call with you between fixed times by dropping you an email to prevent you being caught off guard and your customer guessing when is best to get hold of you.
Surveys are typically a one off purchase and so it is hard to build customer loyalty. But offering value beyond the survey through free guides or other follow-ups can create opportunities to get those recommendations for further sales.