For those that don't know, I was a Realtor in Denver for 5+ years. I did around 10 transactions a year, so nothing to write home about, but more than the average agent.
I looked back at an older article that I never published about a real-world client experience after I gave her 3 home inspector's names. I feel it is still very relevant and how buyer's tend to think so here it is!
I just got back from a home inspection and wanted to give some raw feedback while it was fresh as to how this particular client chose her home inspector.
These buyers were a couple (this was the first home for the woman) that, like many, think of the home buying process as a very emotional, personal experience. So while every buyer is different, I get the feeling this is a common perspective and experience.
The following was her experience after I gave her 3 names, numbers and websites of inspectors I respect and know do good work.
Inspector #1 - No answer. Then she got a call back from the admin/wife and asked about home details. Then another call a few minutes later. The admin had forget she already called the client back. Not a great impression. There was also minimal "human" interaction. She went to their site and was overwhelmed with packages that touted benefits like:
She didn't know what any of this meant.
I understand many buyers find this helpful, comforting, and a value-add. The point is, some do not. I think a section of your site for "First-Time Homebuyers" or "New to Buying?" would have helped in this instance.
She just bought a house. All she knows is she needs some guidance on what to expect and what the process is like. Definitely makes the case for creating helpful content on your site.
Inspector #2 - She got an answer from someone (this inspector uses a call center, but the client didn't know that) that sounded fairly dry and disconnected. She was asked routine details and they hung up. Again, she felt like "another person they were putting in their system."
Call centers work well for many busy inspectors. This is just a real-life example of when they can be a negative. Anytime you're not the one talking to a prospective client, you lose an element of control. You lose an opportunity to build your brand.
She specifically said she "liked being able to talk to the person that will be walking through her new home with her."
Inspector #3 - She got an answer from Andrew, the guy she saw on the website. His response to her?
Congratulations! Where is the home? Tell me about it?!
Can you guess which inspector she went with? Notice price was not mentioned once while she explained this to me. She noted the need to schedule an inspection quickly, and he simply picked up the phone and was personable.
This might sound harsh, but clients don't care what kind of day you're having. They just bought a house. They're emotional. They're excited.
Each time you answer your phone, it needs to be with empathy for where the client or agent is at.
Be excited for them! Show some personality! Doing this everyday are how great brands are built.
It's not possible to answer every call, I get that. Don't let that be a reason you miss out on a job. Use it as an opportunity to show your business values! Think about the impression a voicemail like this would have on you:
"You've reached Kevin with Rocky Mountain Inspections. If you're hearing this, I'm walking on a roof or through a home with a client giving them my full attention. I'd love to do the same for you. Please leave a few details and I'll give you a call back as soon as I finish up.
If you're looking to schedule an inspection ASAP, please visit [insert website] and find my next opening. I look forward to being your home inspector!"
Call centers are more efficient, that makes sense. But it's important to understand there are trade-offs.
Make sure the call center you use is trained to show some personality and warmth that an emotional, intimate transaction warrants.
If it's a spouse or admin then make sure they:
a) are portraying your brand the way you would want to be spoken to, and
b) to be overt about why they're answering the phone and that you, the home inspector, are available to call them later if they like. It's 2 minutes. Is an extra inspection (and possibly more with referrals) worth a quick call?
It's no secret, your online presence can gain or lose you jobs. Create the resources that showcase your competence and understanding of where buyers are coming from.