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About the Author

Mike Clear currently serves as Chief Sales and Marketing Officer.  He was brought into the company in 1999 as  Chief Operating Officer.  He continues to be involved in all areas of the company as has served in roles ranging from COO, CIO and President before landing as the head of sales and marketing.


Home Warranty Blog
  • Customer Service: What Works for any Business

    No matter what your job title is, in Real Estate, customers are the reason your company makes money. Whether you’re a real estate agent, an administrator or in sales, customers and clients breathe life into your business. Because they’re so important, customer service should be everyone’s top priority, throughout your company. After all, if they’re not happy, your business is likely to suffer. It really doesn’t matter what your business is, or how you implement good customer service—as long as the customer is the number one priority, you’re on the right track.  This has NEVER been more important than now in the social media age of “instant gratification.”  With the average Facebook user having more than 200 friends, you can imagine how quickly negative reviews can spread. Not to mention the myriad other options today’s consumers have to instantly spew a negative thought about your business, that in the past would have been long forgotten by the time they sat down to write a negative letter.

    But, how do you provide good customer service across your entire organization, from receptionist to CEO?

    Here at HSA Home Warranty, we interact with thousands of customers every day through our 24/7 call center, sales representatives and on social media. We know it’s important to consistently provide thoughtful answers to questions, and quick response times to any issues that come up.

    Here are four proven strategies that we use, which can be applied to your business:

    -          Practice empathy. Empathy can elicit trust, and it often de-escalates stressful situations. Many times, trainers will teach this through role playing activities, which simulate real-life examples associates will encounter.

    -          Get to their level. It is equally important to speak with customers in ways they will understand. This means limiting the use of jargon and slang, especially when discussing complicated products or situations. Your associates are likely experts in your market or expertise, and may often use technical terms. Even those that are well known in your industry can be confusing to your customers. A customer is going to care the most about resolving their current issue.

    -          Consistently monitor your service. At HSA, supervisors listen to phone calls with all associates on a regular basis. They discuss both what went well, and what could be improved. By doing this simple exercise, many issues are resolved instantly—because associates are able to listen to how they sound on the other side of the call. Plus, it keeps experienced employees sharp, and focused on the nuances of their training.

    -          Don’t ignore or delete.  Confront negative reviews and comments posted by consumers via social media head on.  This is actually a great opportunity to shine in front of hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of other consumers waiting to see how you will react.  Ultimately, you may never be able to change that negative review to a positive, but during the process you may very well have earned some new fans and squelched some potential problems before they ever arose.

    Remember, your business relies on your customers. Especially as a real estate agent, referrals from clients who had a great experience with you will drive more new business.   With new business ventures, expanding markets and changing tactics, most business’ customer service strategies change over time. You’re always going to encounter something new as your business grows and may have to change your customer service strategies to adapt. Look at the impact that social media and online reviews have had on customer service. This is extremely important in keeping up with your customers’ expectations, and providing them excellent customer service for years to come.

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  • Setting A Higher Standard of Service

    The Phrase 'Perception Is Everything' Really Says It All When It Comes To The Importance of Customer Input.

    When it comes to great service, today's customers don't always know how to define it, but they definitely "know it when they see it." Unfortunately, too many consumers have become accustomed to substandard service and are literally shocked when they have a positive experience. Nothing is more gratifying than hearing customers say "Wow, you really helped me when I needed it. Thank you."

    Most businesses strive for repeat sales, knowing the acquisition cost of that business is much lower than the cost of attaining new customers. Still, many don't make the connection between quality of service and profitability.

    This is such a simple concept when you take a step back and look at it, yet too many organizations concentrate on bringing new clients in the front door and they fail to see who is leaving through the back. There are three key ingredients needed to create an environment rich in service: strategy, accountability and commitment.

    Strategy


    Achieving an exceptional level of service is not something that happens by chance, even when you've hired the best employees. Service excellence must become a visible corporate strategy, with goals, action plans and the ability to measure results. In order to ensure high levels of profitability, metrics and strategies should be designed with service to your customers as the priority.

    Accountability


    Every department must recognize how it directly or indirectly impacts customer satisfaction. Every manager must be accountable for communicating and achieving standards of service performance within the organization. Every employee must understand how the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of customers echoes throughout the entire organization.

    Once the understanding and commitment of the entire organization are in place, results should be tracked and measured consistently against established metrics. As the organization and individuals exceed the standards agreed upon, rewards should be made available. Employees who feel confident in their job knowledge and appreciated for their contributions will mirror that attitude to their customers.

    Commitment


    Genuine commitment to service excellence is long term. Results should be tracked constantly and adjustments made as needed. However, numbers do not necessarily paint the whole picture. Subjective feedback from customers, both positive and negative, needs to be part of the equation.

    Paying attention to what our customer is saying can give valuable insight into your market and the mood of your client base if you are willing to listen. 

    Service excellence is a priority at HSA Home Warranty. "Because service matters" is the philosophy that guides our daily activities.

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  • Owning Our Mistakes to Provide Better Service

    The home warranty industry, like many others, has its own seasonality. We are now in the busiest part of the season and handling more claims than ever before. A vast majority of these claims and service related touches are handled seamlessly in a timely and efficiently manner. However, sometimes our service doesn’t live up to its standards. For a perfect claim to take place not only do we have to fix the problem, but we have to fix it at the ideal time for our clients. While many organizations suffer through times like this we make it a priority to show our commitment to customer service and shine in the eyes of our customers and clients.

    If we make a mistake, we need to make it right and make it right fast. We are still in a people business and our people are empowered to make a difference. It is the responsibility of the individual and the organization to “own their mistakes”. Taking responsibility for your actions, whether good or bad is pivotal to the success of our business. We take this very seriously. That is why we are confident to boast about our service. Providing a level of service that exceeds our customers and clients expectations is something we truly believe in. We care about them and strive to satisfy everyone. That doesn’t always happen as planned, but we will always do what we can to make it right.

    Our reputation around service isn’t something that can be built in a day. It’s something that is earned over time by making customer-focused decisions every day. As part of our commitment to service, we have recently expanded our call center to decrease wait times. We realize that consumers have a much larger voice than they've had in the past and it’s our job to listen and respond. HSA has been actively handling complaints received through Facebook, Twitter and other social networks to make sure that no customer goes unheard.

    Remember if you have a problem we’ll do our best to make it right. 

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  • The Importance of a Home Warranty in a Seller's Market

    The real estate industry is back to a sellers’ market. Just a short while ago, we were seeing very high housing inventory and quickly with multiple offers, in many cases.  According to the National Association of Realtors most recent report, home prices increased 6% in the past year. Many professionals estimated that as high as 30% of homes are selling before they ever hit the MLS. Because of this quick shift in the market, many other businesses have been affected.


    Home warranty is, of course, most important to me, and I want to reflect on how this is affecting our business. Sellers still need to protect themselves, and buyers (more than ever) need to protect themselves for the 12 months after the purchase of their home. Many first-time homebuyers are in a cash crunch and need to save money when they can. Appliance repairs or mechanical system failures are probably not something they’re saving for, which is why a home warranty is imperative. With mortgage rates remaining low, this leaves some wiggle room to purchase a home protection plan. Another concern with homes being purchased quickly is questions concerning home inspections. Was all the proper maintenance completed? Was a complete home inspection done thoroughly? A home warranty can protect against these things.

     

    On the other side of the equation, it’s still important for the seller and the real estate agent to have the home warranty protection. After the sale has gone through, the home warranty will still provide a safeguard for the seller and agent if there were to be a major appliance or mechanical system failure. Overall, the warranty provides the proper peace of mind for the seller, the buyer and the agent. If something happens, HSA is there to take the calls, arrange the service and help pay for the repairs.

     


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  • How a Home Warranty Protection Plan Works for You - HSA

    I am excited to show everyone a new video we produced to educate people on home warranty.  This is an interesting look, as it is a unique animation that helps tell the story around home warranty.  Please take a look and let us know what you think.


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