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February 9, 2013

Have Relators Forgotten the Importance of Customer Service?

by kristenajo

Throughout this class, we have discussed the importance of the customer in business. The business dynamic has shifted and customers now hold all the power. We have talked about Apple, and how they are known for their great service as a differentiating factor. However I think there is one industry that sticks out to me that has not realized the importance of the customer- and unfortunately I don’t think it has come back to bite them in the butt yet. I’m talking about the rental industry. In Charlottesville alone there are thousands of college students who look to rent apartments and tens of different reality companies. You would think that competing in this space, realty companies would understand the importance of customer service. However I have heard countless stories about how long it takes a realtor to fix a clogged sink, respond to emails or replace a broken light. It’s a miracle if they come fix a broken dish washer within the week, and absolutely unheard of for a realtor to do something above and beyond for the customer.

I have not had the best experience with my realtor this year, and it makes me angry to think that next year someone else is going to rent the apartment I live in and the realtor will carry on being just as useless as they have been to me this year. For some reason, word of mouth does not seem to be a big concern to realtors as it hasn’t yet negatively affected their business. Is this because people are much more concerned about things like location, cleanliness and price when picking an apartment? Do they not care at all about customer service? I have also recently wondered; what if one realty company in the Charlottesville area chose to focus on customer service. Say they started checking in bi-weekly with their renters to see if there were any problems, or shoveled the driveway when it snowed, or even just dropped off a plate of cookies. Would this change the competitive space? Would people begin to expect more from their realtors? I’m shocked that in a world where the customer holds so much power the realty company has gotten away with absolutely terrible customer service ,and I’m looking forward to the day when this all changes.

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