Walk a Mile in Your Clients’ Shoes



There are two ways to express empathy for someone: “I feel for you” and “I feel you.” Think about the difference between those statements. “I feel for you” tells the person that you understand their situation from your own perspective. “I feel you” tells them you understand from their perspective — because you’ve been there. Can you “feel” your clients instead of “feeling for” them?

Real estate brokerages and agents have to empathize with their clients in order to design the best customer experience, said panelists during Tuesday’s “Designing Great Real Estate Experiences” session at the Real Estate Connect conference in New York. When you can see the home-buying or selling process through your clients’ eyes, you can create an experience for them that better serves their needs.

“You have to think about the journey of the customer and what that feels like,” said Michele Serro, founder and CEO of Doorsteps.

One company that has designed an exceptional customer experience is the taxi service Uber, she said. Uber has incorporated both low-touch and high-touch moments into its customer experience. Its app allows users to request a car at the touch of a button and see the car’s distance from the arrival point in real time. “For all the things that happen before I get in the car, Uber decided to use technology for that,” Serro said.

The high-touch part of the Uber experience begins once a customer is picked up. That’s when the driver makes a connection with the customer.

“Uber has really thought about the journey the rider is going to take,” Serro said. So how can Uber’s example influence real estate? “What does it feel like to get excited about a house, realize you can’t afford it, then have to go look at another house? Where can technology help with these moments? If you get more deliberate about the design of your experience, it can be really incredible.”

Angela Raab, director of training and technology advancement at FC Tucker Company in Indianapolis, said her company emphasizes agents’ use of hyperlocal data to enhance the customer experience. For example, agents need to be able to tell clients the shortest route to any destination from a given address, whether that be by walking, driving, or taking public transportation. “It’s just so important to us, and I think it’s powerful,” Raab said.

Judy Weiniger, broker-associate at RE/MAX Premier in Warren, N.J., said she has “created a hub” by starting a Facebook group for her community where she posts videos and other local information to engage with her audience. “As broker-owners, you’re taught to have cutting-edge technology, but at the end of the day, it comes down to the empathy question. The bottom line is: Do you care for your clients enough, and do you want to put their interests ahead of your own?”

When you truly put yourself in the shoes of your customer, the experience they’re getting feels different, more real. It doesn’t have to be a large gesture, Serro noted. It can be something small, such as using more personal language when you’re speaking with a client on the phone.

Graham Wood

Graham Wood is a senior editor for REALTOR® Magazine. He can be reached at gwood@realtors.org.

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  1. Thinking from the client’s perspective, the buying process is an important event as the client is emotionally and fiscally attached to the property being purchased.