The Josh Gordon Group blog

The customer feedback salepeople miss that social media hears

Posted by Josh Gordon on Mon, Jan 24, 2011 @ 09:01 AM

Your organizations salespeople can be a terrific source of customer feedback, so can a social media listening program. Do you need them both? Yes.

Research from a recent study I did for NCI, the largest real estate publishing company in the country, documents an area of customer feedback that salespeople typically miss. This same area is one where social media listening excels: understanding why customers leave.

The NCI study of over 5,000 respondents asked home sellers why they leave, or fire, real estate agents they are working with to sell their home. At the same time, we asked real estate agents why they think their customers, the home sellers, leave them. Comparing the results tells a universal truth about the selling process and the limits of the customer feedback it gathers.

A majority of real estate agents (58%), assumed that "lack of progress" in selling a home, was the main reason a home seller would leave them. Reasonable. But the miss comes in assumng this is the only significant reason. Agents assume that all other reasons a customer would leave them are of little consequence:

  • Agent did not spend enough time: 14%
  • Other agent seemed more competent 8%
  • Other agent seemed more eager 8%
  • Agent did not give progress updates 4%

All other responses were 3% or less

But when home sellers were asked why they left the real estate agents, it was clear that other factors were important as well. Lack of progress was still the top reason with 45% picking it (vs. 58% for agents), but other reasons were far more important than agents thought:

  • Agent did not spend enough time: 37% (only 14% of agents thought so )
  • Not impressed with agents selling skills: 27% (only 1% of agents thought so)
  • Agent did not give progress updates: 25% (only 4% of agents thought so)
  • Agent gave too many excuses 23% (only 1% of agents thought so)
  • Agent focused on selling other homes 19% (only 1% of agents thought so)

For all the comparisons, here is a chart from the NCI study:

Clearly, the real estate agents are not getting the whole story but typically it is not their fault. When a buyer, of any kind, decides to buy from someone else, they often give the losing salesperson an expedient excuse that is light on details, "competition gave us a crazy price", "my boss over ruled me", or "we just thought we'd try something new." An honest answer to a salesperson or real estate agent can revitalize the salesperson's efforts resulting in phone calls, e-mail, and meetings over a decision that has already been made.

Social media listening is the opposite. Monitoring "customer dissatisfaction" is a core function. Angry customers who are leaving or have left your company often vent frustrations through social media channels. If you are listening you can "hear" the complaints and respond appropriately.

Read more about the NCI study