When my husband was interviewing for his current job, his future boss warned him that he has this kind of weird question that he asks all applicants: “Do you think you are a good person?”
Hearing this story from my husband’s point-of-view, I froze with fear thinking about how I would answer this question. But he had the perfect response. “Yes, I do. Because my mother is a good person, and that’s what she raised me to be.”
It’s a great answer to a tough question precisely because that’s what mothers do for society. They teach us how to be good people. And that’s also what makes the title of Jeanne Bliss’s new book, Would You Do That to Your Mother? The “Make Mom Proud” Standard for How to Treat Your Customers (Penguin, 2018) so compelling.
The book is all about how to run a business your mother would be proud of. In it, Bliss offers countless real-life examples of how companies get this right and wrong. She punctuates these case studies with concrete ways to “#MakeMomProud” and a collection of simple yet revealing questions. (Would you send a pile of paperwork to your mother? Of course not!)
The final chapter—which is helpfully titled, “Stop the Shenanigans!”—offers a #MakeMomProud-o-Meter to help you determine how well your business measures up to Bliss’ lofty yet entirely sensible goals. Here are a few of my favorite questions from this last chapter, along with some of my own reflections specifically for the real estate industry.
- Do customer goals drive innovation in products, service, and operations? It’s easy to base expanded offerings on what you or your brokerage does best, or what might bring the most new customers to your door. But have you asked clients what they really need from you during the real estate transaction? This is a good mindset to employ when you’re looking at the types of questions you ask in a feedback form, for example. What are their pain points and how can you solve for them?
- Do we understand vulnerable customer moments, and design services and gestures to support them? It’s not fun to think about, but there’s potential for a fair number of difficult or embarrassing moments for consumers throughout the transaction. Buyers might get turned down for loans or have their offers rejected. Sellers might not be able to see how they’re getting in the way of obtaining the sales price and terms they want on their listing. Make sure you’re ready to react to those moments with compassion and understanding.
- Do all of our “hellos” start with honoring the human in front of us? In an industry that can get a bit obsessed over leads and the sales funnel, it’s important to examine the experience prospective clients have when they first reach out (whether that’s calling about a listing, walking into a brokerage office, or filling out an online form). Are they being treated like human beings in these interactions, or leads? Strive for the type of hello that your mother would appreciate.
- Do we recognize and reward actions that keep valued customers? This one is more applicable for brokers, but it’s an important question for the industry as well. In real estate, the bright lights are often reserved for top producers, not top caretakers. But clients are more interested in being taken care of than the bottom line. To secure a company’s future, make sure you’re recognizing those who create repeat customers just as much as you congratulate the rainmakers.