What do current and prospective clients value these days? It’s most likely not your products or services. More likely today, they value experiences over anything else – and if you don’t offer compelling, differentiated experiences, your clients – past and present – will research, look, purchase and become a loyal customer somewhere else.

The little things in business today, make all the difference tomorrow and the more amazing experiences people have with other industries, the more they are going to expect it from businesses like yours and mine.

In this episode of Real Estate Pros, we’ll explore the industries who are setting the benchmark on customer experiences and the strategies you can apply to increase client retention and referrals.

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After our wedding back in 2012, my wife and I had our honeymoon on the beautiful Hamilton Island. For those of you who haven’t heard about Hamilton Island, it’s a small island – about 5 square kilometres in size – located off the east coast of Australia in a group of islands known as the Whitsundays. A popular tourist destination about 90 minutes on a plane from Brisbane and gateway to the heritage listed Great Barrier Reef – A beautiful part of the world.

It was our first time on the island and from the personal golf buggy ride from the airport to our hotel, our induction around the pool sipping on cocktails, to dinner on the beach, the experience was nothing short of breathtaking. It truly was a remarkable experience in all sense of the word – which of course means worthy of remark.

Fast forward three and half years to when we found out that we were expecting our first baby, my wife told me about a trend that’s become rather popular called a babymoon. For the uninitiated like I was, a babymoon is where couples take one last vacation just before their baby is born – most popular holiday destinations now promote this as part of their holiday packages.

Convincing me it was a great idea to take a heavily pregnant woman on a short holiday, my wife and I knew exactly the place we would go – back to Hamilton Island but this time to a different resort than when we stayed only three years before.

We were again greeted at the airport by the island shuttle service and just like our last visit, we received an animated and informative narration on the history of the island from the driver on route to our hotel. At this point, we were feeling just as impressed as we did on our first visit to the island. But it was what happened next that really blew us away.

Upon checking into the hotel, the first question the receptionist asked was ‘have you been the island before’ – to which we responded yes – we were a few years ago for our honeymoon. She kindly said welcome back and proceeded with the normal check in procedure.

About 30 minutes after we checked into our room, we received a knock at the door by a sharply dressed gentleman with a card and a bottle of red wine. Wondering if this was just something the hotel were handing out to every guest on this particular weekend, I opened the card and found a hand written note from the Executive Assistant Manager of the island that read “Dear Josh, welcome back to Hamilton Island! We hope your stay is full of relaxation and more great memories. Regards, Jared.”

The card was signed by Jared and enclosed was also his business card.

Josh Cobb: The Small Things In Real Estate That Have The Biggest Impact

Now, while we love holidaying on Hamilton Island for its amazing weather, white sandy beaches and blue ocean water, this small gesture far exceeded our expectations. So much so, I’ve told this story to hundreds if not thousands of people – not only friends and family, but professional colleagues and those in the audience of conferences I’ve spoken at. We continue to hear from the team at Hamilton Island about events they’re holding, special deals and photos taken by their social media team – we’re pretty loyal subscribers.

Now while this kind of customer experience might be common in most areas of the hotel and resort industry, I’m afraid to say it’s not the case in real estate – especially if most consumer surveys are anything to go by that show real estate agents near the bottom of trusted professions.

Conversely to our experience on Hamilton Island – when we bought our current home – from the time the contract went unconditional, we did not hear from the selling agent whatsoever. Sadly, I think the same would be said by many home buyers today.

Furthermore, when we collected the keys for our new home, we were handed a $15 bottle of champagne by the teenage receptionist along with the keys to the property inside a crumpled standard window envelope and sent on our merry way. We have not heard from the agent since.

I don’t know whether it’s because the real estate market is relatively strong right now and that real estate professionals feel they can drop the ball on service because another sale is coming in right away, or if this is just the state of customer service in our industry. Either way, it has to change.

When you really think about it, all it took for our experience at Hamilton Island to go from great to remarkable was for the receptionist to make a note in her CRM of the answer to her question “have you been here before”, that note then filtered into the office of the Executive Assistant Manager and for the manager to take two minutes of his time to write on a card and send it to our room. You already have all the systems in your business to do things just like this, but are they being used in a way that turns clients and customers into raving fans?

The little things in business today, make all the difference tomorrow. The more amazing experiences people have with other industries, the more they are going to expect it from businesses like yours and mine.

People no longer compare the experience they have with one real estate agent to another – they are comparing the experience they had in an entirely different industry and that is a big challenge for all businesses today.

There is an amazing book by Robert Rose and Carla Johnson called Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing where they talk about how marketing will be transformed by storytellers and powered by remarkable customer experiences. There is a quote in the book which I love – it goes like this.

“The most important marketing metric will soon change from ‘share of wallet’ or ‘share of voice’ to ‘share of experience’.”

As the book suggests, the new goal of marketing will not be to simply “create a customer”. No, that will simply be table stakes for most organisations. The new objective for marketing will be to “evolve a customer”.

So what are the little things you do in your business that makes someone talk about you to their own audience of family, friends and professional connections? It’s definitely front of mind for me and our team.

What do current and prospective clients value these days? It’s most likely not your products or services. More likely today, they value experiences over anything else – and if you don’t offer compelling, differentiated experiences, your clients – past and present – will research, look, purchase and become a loyal customer somewhere else.

Good luck.

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