Internet Success Requires Good Customer Service From Realtors


THE LEADERS POST - Issue #5 - December 17, 1998

from Results-net.com
By: Doug Towes, Editor

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About the Leaders Post
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The Leaders Post is the newsletter for real estate
professionals committed to Net Success - from Results-net.com, an
online community of real estate professionals dedicated to providing
excellent service to their clients. If you prefer the online version,
it can be viewed by clicking Internet Marketing Tips For Real Estate Agents

You may pass this newsletter on to others, as long as it is sent
in it's entirety. To subscribe or unsubscribe, simply visit the
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your email address in the appropriate form.

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Contents
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- Internet usage up 23%
- Bad customer service on the net
- Internet communication methods
- How many transactions on average from real estate agent's sites?
- Guest Article - EMAIL ABCs
- New Contest!
- Visitor I.D.
- Book Recommendation
- Thought for Today

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Net Success
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Approximately 27% of the U.S. adult population, or 53.5 million
US citizens currently use the Internet, according to the Fall
1998 Cyber Stats report from Mediamark Research Inc.  This
is an increase of 23% from the prior quarter.  And, this study
only counts people who have used the Internet in the last
30 days!

A total of 72 million American adults now have access to the
Internet, according to the report, up 16% from the number
who had access during the previous reporting period.

If you have an internet site and are not getting results ($$) from your
web presence, think about what the internet really is. The internet
is primarily a communications network with e mail being the most
common means of communication used. In most cases, when visitors to
your site emails you a request for information - they would like to
be responded to by email as well. By simply responding to your e mail
quickly, you can eliminate most of your competition and position
yourself first in your prospective clients eyes! By providing the
information by email (property listings for example) that your
prospective clients are looking for, you will change many of those
visitors from just prospects to clients.

The following article I received the other day illustrates the
opportunity available to us all. It arrived with the heading:

BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE

42 percent of leading Web sites maintain sub-standard customer
service, according to Jupiter Communications. This wastes a valuable
means of building brand loyalty and relationships with consumers
online.

In a report which examined how quickly Web sites respond to customer
email, Jupiter found that 42 percent of top-ranked sites take longer
than five days to reply, never reply, or do not have an email
address on site.

The study found that retail-shopping sites provide the best customer
service, with 54 percent responding to consumer email within
twenty-four hours. However, 19 percent of travel sites, the fastest
growing online industry, took at least three days to reply to
consumers.

With the volume of customer service emails expected to surge in the
next few years, companies will need to address this problem if they
are to maintain credibility, competitiveness, and custom. Not
replying to email sends out the message that the Web is not a
reliable means of doing business with the company in question,
according to Jupiter analyst, Ken Allard.

The findings are based on a survey of 125 major Web sites. The study
looked at content, consumer brand, travel, retail and
financial-service sites.

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Aside from email, there are other methods of communication used on
the internet which you can use to further your business. Some of the
more popular ones are:

- Discussion Forums like, the Agents Online Real Estate Forum
- News groups on Usenet
- IRC Chat
- ICQ, which includes both instant messaging and chat functions
- Internet conferences, which use text, audio and/or video

Many of your existing clients and colleagues already use these
methods of communication, and more are starting to every day. The
more you utilize the different methods of communication used on the
internet, the more you distance yourself from the competition in your
clients eyes. In the near future, agents who are not "net wise" will
find themselves marginalized as their clients and colleagues will
expect to be treated the way they want to be treated - just the same
as today agents who can not use a computer to access their MLS
listings find themselves struggling.

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How many transactions do your fellow agents attribute to their web
sites in the past year? Early results of our survey which asks that
question indicate:

15% - more than twenty
10% - ten to fifteen
15% - six to ten
36% - two to six
5% - one
15% - none

The goal of this newsletter, the Agents Online Real Estate Idea
Center, and Results-net.com is to help us all get in that "more than
twenty" group!

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GUEST ARTICLE - EMAIL ABCs

1)How do you use e-mail?

Extensively. And we network with other Realtors using email, almost
exclusively, now. Many Realtors as well as members of the public will
only do business with Realtors who use email.

Respond as soon as humanly possible. No one expects you to drop
everything and answer their email. But, drop everything just long
enough to send a one line response, letting the writer know that you
have their mail, and that you will get back with them soon. And,
don't forget you said you would "do it later". Then, don't forget to
follow up and follow thru. Leave yourself a note in your to-do box.

Telephone etiquette applies in the E-commerce world, too. If you
would let a phone call go unreturned for days on end, chances are you
only check your email every now and then, as well. Get in the habit
of checking your email several times a day, as well as your voice
mail. I can't tell you how much business I've acquired off the Net,
just because I was the first one to respond. Timing is everything.

Write in short paragraphs. Reading a computer screen is hard on many
people's eyes. This makes your email more likely to be read.

Our email address is on every piece of paper that moves thru our
office -- our fax reply sheet, our letterhead, our envelopes, the
cheques we use to pay our bills, our business cards, our labels, and
every piece of marketing material.

Be certain to create a signature page, and USE IT! Be certain that
your email, as you have entered it, works. Send yourself mail once in
a while, to double check. Enter a link to your web site on your
signature page, but be sure to place the < > signs before and after
it, so when people click on it, works. Remind people to book mark
your site for future use. Make it easy for everyone.

If you need to know for sure that your mail got to the recipient,
then click the "receipt" button, and just like "registered mail", the
system will send you back a receipt. The receiver has the option of
not returning the receipt, tho'.

Get with the program!!! Get "into" your email program. Either the one
that comes with your provider, or download, or purchase one. STUDY
IT! You don't need to know everything, or be intimidated by so much
information. Just get started. It will grow on you, and with you.
Work on a "as-need-to-know" basis at first.

Create mailboxes, and folders. Do your filing every day, or you will
certainly become overwhelmed trying to locate mail. You think you
won't - but you will. Start before the mail becomes unmanageable,
just like in "real" life.

2)What are your suggestions for REALTORS to make a better
businesslike impression.

Get a good provider. Ask colleagues who they use. Do not stand for
poor service. There is plenty of poor service available. What works
well in one area does not necessarily work well in another. Keep
changing companies till you get with people who work "your" way, or
think "your" way, and who have equipment that is compatible with
yours. Not all servers are compatible. They just aren't. I, for one,
discovered that some US Robotics modems don't blend well with some
Livingston mechanics. Trying to get our phone lines to stay open
proved to be a nightmare, and a very expensive proposition.
Apparently service to some areas is better than to others.

The choice of email name is paramount!!! No funny business or weird
names if you want people to take you seriously.

Choose either the name of "the city or area" where you work, and your
own "personal id" and/or add in the name of "the company" where you
work (only if the company name is already easily recognized,
otherwise it just wastes space and creates a too-long line).

My personal preference is that you should probably not identify the
name of the company in your email, since many people work for a large
company, and, if a member of the public has had a personal
unsatisfactory experience with another firm member, this could
jeopardize your opportunity for a chance to show the person your own
personal marketing savvy.

If you have ever worked for a large company where you had any sort of
difficulties monitoring your messages, having a personalized email
address will put you in a much better control position. Give your
email address to each and every client, in fact, give it to everyone
you meet. Draw their attention to the fact that they can be sure to
reach you "personally" by using your email. There will be no danger
of your message going to the wrong person at your company --- eg.
(How many Mary's or Joe's are there in your office?)
 
3)What do you think is important in E-commerce etiquette?

Quit with the silliness. There is a time and a place for "silly" -
but there is never, never a time or a place, in business --- your
client can be silly if he wants to -- but you cannot take a chance by
taking any kind of liberties, or even a chance that something you do
or say could even be misconstrued as being silly. Business is
business. It is time that more people took REALTORS more seriously.
Email can help us create that environment.

Recall the old adage, you only get one chance to make that first
impression. Now it's your email that, more often than not, meets the
client first, before you meet in person. Use your email to develop a
rapport with the client. Take the time to do this, or you will find
that your business will suffer greatly. This is very serious. After
communicating perhaps several times, then suggest (if the client
hasn't already) that you meet in person to see if the "chemistry is
right", and to give each of you an opportunity to see if you are
going to be able to work together.

Real Estate, in particular, will always be a people business. If,
after you meet, you get any bad vibes -- don't take any chances -
WALK (just excuse yourself and apologize, saying you are urgently
required someplace else - your reputation is all you have in this
world --- don't mess with it. Don't take chances of any kind. If you
feel that there is real business to be had, just that you are
incompatible, offer to refer the client to a colleague whose
lifestyle is more in keeping with that of the client.

Never, EVER, send someone an attachment without getting their
permission first. When I first started using email, I thought I would
go crazy with the number of agents who thought they were doing me a
favour, attaching a wonderful file that they had just found - for
downloading purposes - not recognizing that the file was taking
forever to come across the phone line, and tying up my email system,
sometimes for twenty minutes or more - during which time I could not
get at my other new mail.

When you reply to someone's mail, the polite thing to do, is to begin
your mail at the top of the new page, not at the bottom of the
message they have sent you. Unless there is a good reason why not to,
delete the sender's message from your reply (it will be kept in the
original mail, anyway).

Remember to title your reply as such in the subject line as a
courtesy to the person on the other end. Remember the filing system?
well that person needs to file your mail --- so think of the other
person.

Watch your spelling. Not everyone was born with the gift of being a
good speller. That's why there is spell check. USE IT!!! But, do
re-read your material as spell check does not know whether you meant
to say - "hear" - "here" - or "there", and will pick the words up as
having been spelled correctly.

NEVER take liberties with the spelling of people's names. Second,
perhaps to their wallet, a person's name is his/her most prized, and
private, possession. Many people take personal offense when their
names are mis-spelled, and would not do business with you as a
result. And, in contract work, a contract could be nullified as the
result of a name being incorrect, so--ohhh, be on guard. This error
could cost you real dollars. Make it a habit to double check,
cross-check, whatever you have to do to create that memorable first
impression.

As for the other words in your email - be certain you have chosen
your words carefully. Never put anything in writing (read email) that
you would not say to a person's face. And, again - this Real Estate
business carries a huge responsibility with it, so take pride in your
profession.

Sloppy is as sloppy does, sir! Sound familiar?

By Carolyne Lederer, Brampton Ontario

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What works for you? Your suggestions and submissions are gratefully
accepted, and if used you will receive credit along with a link to
your web site or (e mail address if you don't have a web site yet.)
Send submissions to - suggestions may
also be left at the Agents Online Real Estate Idea Center in the
Newsletter Suggestions Forum. http://www.agentsonline.net/

One of the most popular forums there is the Real Estate Investing forum. There are
always lots of interesting and informative discussions going on with a minimum
of spam and solicitations to wade through - check it out!

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Happenings At Results-net.com
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Contest!
Have your picture along with your personal listing in the Real Estate
Directory at Results-net.com! http://www.results-net.com

In order to help jump start the new Agents Online Real Estate Idea
Center at http://www.agentsonline.net/, for the next while, we will
be choosing one posting a week from the Idea Center, and awarding the
lucky participant with a FREE 6 month enhanced listing (which
includes the agent's photo) in the Real Estate Directories! The lucky
participants will also be mentioned with a link back to their
websites in this newsletter which goes out to several hundred real
estate professionals. Membership in the Agents Online Real Estate
Idea Center is free, so discover this great networking resource today
at http://www.agentsonline.net/. In January there will be an upgrade
to the software that will allow for email notification of postings
and some other enhancements. Presently only moderators receive email
notification.

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Members of the House and Home Page program on Results-net.com have
all received a couple of recent upgrades. Sites have been provided
with an additional doorway page - called "home.html", which is
designed to enhance search engine ranking in a couple of major search
engines.

Members of the House and Home Page program have also been provided
with our new Visitor I.D. system for their sites! This is basically
the identical technology as Site Guest, for which they charge
$198 U.S. This program has been developed after dozens of hours of
research and programming. The way it is implemented ensures that it
is virtually invisible to visitors, and does not scare them away
before they get a chance to "know" you and explore the benefits you
have to offer them. The end result will save members time and money,
as well as provide a database of prospective clients for a mailing
list etc.

This Visitor I.D. program can give you the visitor's real name - it
will give you their last name even if they only gave you their first
name on search forms. It will give you their real e mail address -
even if they made an error or gave you a bogus e mail address on
search forms. This alone will save countless hours of work preparing
information only to find the visitors
e mail address is wrong!

The Visitor I.D. system will be included with all new House and Home
Page Sites. For more information on the House and Home Page program,
visit Websites for Realtors

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Even though this is traditionally a slow time of year in some areas,
there are still many client leads being generated and passed along to
members who are listed in the Results-net Real Estate Directories.
Leads are coming in for areas that still do not have agents listed in
the Directories. If you are not listed, you may be missing out! There
is no fee to be listed - it's FREE!

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This And That
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For possible insertion in your newsletter. An excellent book that I
have recently read would, to me, be excellent for our readers:
 
"Zero Resistance Selling" by Maxwell MALTZ, M.D.
 
Some chapters are on: 
How to conquer call reluctance
How to anticipate and easily eliminate stalls and objections
How to zoom out of a selling slump
How to be a master closer in selling
How to use the power of networking
 
This book is NOT  written for real estate agents, but does cover many
interesting topics.  It is one of the best "non courses" available. 
Cost was $18.95 or was available in my public library.
 

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Thought For Today
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To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer. -
Unknown

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their clients.

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