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Service is one of those things that is very difficult to quantify and define. As real estate agents, we are in the business of providing services that are both personal and profession so it is something that we take time to reflect on, in fact, First National is the only real estate brand to have received a Canstar Blue five star rating for customer service.
Research into the State of Customer Service in Australia (CPM, Retail Safari, Monash University and the ACRS Omnibus Tracker, 2017) suggests that despite living in a world where there are exponentially more ways to connect, Australian customers still feel a gap between their expectations and their reality in terms of customer service.
The research indicates that as many as 72% of Australians do NOT believe that companies place a high enough value on customer service and 34% have stopped shopping at a company or buying a brand because of a poor service experience.
Interestingly, the research indicates that Baby Boomers are the most tolerant of poor service, and higher levels of ‘stickyness’, whereas Gen X are the least tolerant.
In The Global Customer Service Barometer, curated by American Express, Australia has the third worst customer service in the world. In. The. World.
When customers have the ability to fire everyone from the CEO down, it is quite phenomenal that the results of the research reflect such a poor landscape between customers and companies.
Peter Hartcher of the Sydney Morning Herald suggests that part of the issue might be that Australians equate ‘service’ with being a ‘servant’ and our national ethos has such a chip on its shoulder about creating the ‘anti-class’. That we need to correct inequities in power that could flare up when one of us is ‘in service’ to the other. He says:
“(Australian) citizens know that some among them will have more power and money than others… But according to the unspoken national ethos, no Australian is permitted to assume that he or she is better than any other Australian. How is this enforced? By the prompt corrective of levelling derision. It has a name—The “Tall Poppy Syndrome”. The tallest flowers in the field will be cut down to the same size as all the others. This is sometimes misunderstood… It isn’t success that offends Australians. It’s the affront committed by anyone who starts to put on superior airs.”
It is un-Australian to be in service to others, by this definition, yet we all know that it isn’t. In fact, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reports (2014) that 31% of Australian adults are involved in some kind of voluntary work, which is service for others where there is no reward. The issue with service seems to come into the Australian ethos once people are prepared to pay for it.
Perhaps it does all hark back to some kind of colonial cringe.
As leaders of customer service in the Australian real estate industry, here is a very simple summary of how we provide (and receive) customer service: ‘Good Works”.