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7 CRM Strategies To Turn Today’s Clients Into Tomorrow’s Referrals

Real Estate Postcards    By: Dan Gooder Richard

You can’t buy customer loyalty.  But you can earn it.

Loyal clients aren’t simply the by-product of doing your job well.  That will get you a roomful of satisfied clients who may drop your name a time or two.  It takes customer relationship management (CRM) to develop clients who provide a steady stream of “slam dunk” referrals and repeat business throughout a life-long business relationship.

Customers-for-life take CRM diligence.  It takes attention to detail.  It takes your genuine interest in what’s important to your clients, and you can’t start too soon.  Here are seven proven strategies that will turn today’s satisfied customer into tomorrow’s loyal client and abundant source of buyer and seller referrals.

     1.      Begin gathering a prospect’s personal information immediately and keep it up. Keep CRM in mind from your first meeting through closing and beyond.  Ask new prospects to complete a Client Profile that goes deeper than a list of preferences in home types and neighborhoods.  Include questions about hobbies, special interests, birthdays, important anniversaries, job titles and in-depth contact information including multiple phones and e-mail addresses for each adult.  Add this information to their records in your database. Make sure you ensure the prospects know your database is secure so they will be willing to share personal information.
     2.      Quickly act on the knowledge you have gained.  Become a beacon of light for your clients by finding positive ways to act on what you know about them.  Deliver a tailor-made variety of benefits and services that will be of special added value and will make them confident their referrals will get the same careful treatment.  In short, go beyond their expectations.
     3.      Put out the welcome mat.  Make it easy for your clients to navigate your website.  A truly customer-centered website is organized to solve customer problems, not promote you personally.  Practice the two-click-maximum rule of good web design: One click on subject, one click on destination.  Put the customer first.  Position your “About Us” section at the bottom of your navigation.
     4.      Be diligent in identifying and providing what your customers want.  Never stop asking, listening, and learning.  As you interact with prospects, clients, and their families, you will learn more about what’s important to them. Some of that information you will glean from casual conversations and simple observations. More insights will come from studying your “web analytics” that track visitor click paths to most popular pages.  Store these tidbits in your database or a paper file, and now you’re ahead of your competition when it’s time to upgrade your site, because you know something your competition doesn’t know.
     5.      Intensify your campaign with a balanced attack of online and offline marketing designed to create customer loyalty.  Loyalty is based on whether or not the customer gets the services they truly value.   Make every communication positive, informative, and related to their personal circumstances.  With CRM, the customer becomes the central focus, not you. Keep an eye open for questions or problems clients mention, and be the first to provide a solution with service or information via e-mail or in person, and “store” the solution on your site for future clients.
     6.     Protect your permission-based customer list.  Listen to each client’s stated preference for contact frequency (weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually?) and method of contact (e-mail, mail, phone, in person?). At the same time, give those on your list plenty of reasons to want to continue to receive your messages by providing relevant information.  With today’s clients, relevance is king.  Use the convenience of automated e-mail with links back to services on your website to inform and educate.
     7.      Create a home for customers on your home page.  Give clients in the CRM database reasons to visit your website frequently, even after their transaction is completed (just sold market updates are very popular).  Give each one an exclusive folder or private page on your site that only they can access with a password (save their home’s virtual tour here to share with their friends). Clients can have as many folders within your website as you want for as long as you need.  Use this advantage to steer each client through the home buying or selling process, then shift gears to pertinent homeowner topics that will show your satisfied customers that you care about them even after their transaction is complete.  Again, relevance is king.

Ultimately, the most effective CRM requires a shift in mindset and focus.  With short-sighted “transactional” marketing, you’re constantly fishing for new customers to contact you for their next real estate deal.  Your CRM “relationship” objectives are different, however, when your goal calls for long-term relationships in which loyal customers become sources of repeat business and referrals year after year.  The successful CRM mindset encompasses a wide range of personal attentions and services, not only during the home buying and selling process, but for the rest of the customer’s life.

Remember, every customer talks to their friends behind your back.  Make sure your customers are saying positive things about you and your services when you’re not there.  That’s the secret to cultivating customers for life.
Dan Gooder Richard is the founder and president of the Gooder Group, a publisher of marketing materials for real estate and mortgage professionals since 1983, in Fairfax, Virginia. He is the author of REAL ESTATE RAINMAKER (R) GUIDE TO ONLINE MARKETING, just published by John Wiley & Sons.

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