The two-way street

I can wax poetic all day about how to treat consumers. It was my field of study long before I ventured in the technology space in real estate. Long before I ever heard of Seth Godin. It will be my fascination until the day I check out.

But I am also a student of the two-way street. And the belief that customers aren’t born good, they are made.

If left uncared for, customers can bleed merchants or service providers dry. They find a flaw in a product or service and they demand reparations.

Take airline travelers. Minor discomforts produce violent reactions despite the routinely magical reunion of baggage, passenger and concrete after rocketing from one side of the country to another.

I was once a very ungrateful, untrained air travel consumer. That was until I watched CNBC’s American Airlines – a week in a life. It changed my perspective radically.

I won’t bore you with the details. But this documentary takes the viewer beyond the surface of air travel and deep inside the mechanics of running an airline. Of plane maintenance. Of managing 2,000,000 passengers a week. I found myself viewing the entire airline value proposition in an whole new light.

Is it possible that much of real estate’s issues stem from a similar disconnect between customer and company? Is the value proposition lost because its never really communicated properly? How well has real estate trained its customer? How well, despite all the content written about the topic, has real estate exposed  it core and shed a light on what the business is really about?
What’s behind the real estate cubicle?
What does an agent really do all day?
What are their costs of doing business?
How accurate is consumers’ perception of what a real estate pro earns?
What does a broker do?
What’s her cost of doing business?
What’s it like to host an open house?
What dangers are agents often exposed to? 
What’s a hard negotiation sound like?
How much local information do agents have to know at the snap of a finger?
What actually goes into staging a home?

Most real estate customers don’t have a clue what real estate sales is really about. They believe it to be a simple, low barrier to entry industry. So why not school them?

The American Airlines documentary revealed everything I never knew. By giving me a peak under the hood, they extracted a measure of understanding. I will complain less. I will be far more forgiving. I will find great value in landing safely, which is really all that matters in the end.

Real estate would do well to shed light on what the consumer doesn’t know. I have a feeling there’s lots there. Right now, what people don’t know about you is hurting you.

There is much we can all learn about how to be better service providers. The first step is learning how to cultivate better customers.