My Wife and I have recently started looking for a house to buy within the area that we live, and we have nothing to sell – so what could possibly go wrong?

Well, as an arch defender- in- chief of both estate agents and their “modus operandi” (being an ex estate agent of 30 years myself), I have to confess to feeling a little “disappointed” at the lack of good manners and unfriendly engagement that we have received from some estate agents whilst trying to register in our local area.

I fully understand that current market conditions strongly favour sellers rather than buyers, but it struck me that buyers at this moment in time (in some agents’ minds) are merely nothing more than fodder in the purchasing/selling process, as after all, they have been two a penny!

Perhaps I should be more understanding of the pressure that sales negotiators have been under over the past eighteen months, but surely returning phone calls and answering emails is not only polite, but a key part of the job description?

Having said that, when (as a buyer) you are met with a smile and a positive attitude from a sales negotiator – this positive experience definitely stands out, and it is only natural to want to do business with that person/company. Funny how behaviour breeds behaviour.

Surely, the most salient point for companies (large or small) to comprehend is simply that good customer service emanates from a positive company culture and not simply the fast flowing market conditions. In essence, this means that every buyer registration should in theory at least be seen as a potential selling opportunity rather than simply a chore.

In mitigation, I am quite sure that furlough, restrictive hours and social distancing have not only played havoc with office staffing in particular, but presented quite a “challenge” to wider company operations. However, given the boom conditions of the residential market up and down the country during the pandemic, as a buyer it is obvious to observe the firms that have adapted well to such unprecedented conditions.

So why is there such marked difference in customer service between firms? Well, I believe that the pandemic (and more pertinently perhaps, the stamp duty holiday that has accompanied it) has been a true test of estate agency firms across the UK on many different levels. As we ease into the Winter of 2021, maybe it is a time for managers and owners to take stock, and honestly reflect upon the strength and depth of their operations and examine where they fell short.

I suspect that many MD’s will just be happy to bank the income and worry about next year, well…… next year, rather than learn from the last 18 months. But as the market slows and the equilibrium between buyers and sellers is gradually restored, good customer service will return as being “key” to selling property, and “order taking”, for a while at least will be consigned to recent history.

Usually, when this happens, many young sales staff leave the business all together, as their income shrinks in line with market activity. Of course, they will not care that their lack of empathy with newly registering buyers fell well short of their employer’s job remit, but the thing is that I (and others like me) will.

More importantly, I will go on to buy a property, and as a result of their poor interaction choose not to call their employers firm in the future, when I choose to sell it…….. and that I am afraid, is the harsh reality of the market place.

 

The author of this article is Peter Nicholls, MD of Ideology Consulting. For more information about Ideology Consulting, go to www.ideologyconsulting.co.uk.