by Bob Scarff

Customer Expectation

I spent most of last week with my colleagues at market leading agents, Butters John Bee and Farrell Heyworth.

I don’t imagine right now that any two agents can have a conversation for longer than a few minutes without the “purple bricks phenomenon” cropping up, and last week was no exception (by the way congratulations to my mate and former Countrywide colleague, Lee Wainwright on his new job with PB).

Of course, it isn’t just PB that we talk about, it’s the whole “digital opportunity” thing. In such chats, I’m always reminded of James Dearsley’s comment “any traditional agent that thinks that their way of working won’t change in the next five years is wrong, but any online agent that thinks that their current model won’t change is also wrong”. The point is that customer expectation is the only thing that matters and in our case, customer behaviour is still evolving - they don’t know what they’ll want from an agent in five years time, so how can we?

Self Service or Full Service

My own view is that in five years time, 25% of all transactions will be conducted through agents offering self service and the rest of the market will be full service. What I can’t tell you is precisely what the terms self service and full service will mean - all I do know (taking James Dearsley’s point) is that neither will look like they do today.

Also, I can say…..

• the uptake of self service will not be entirely price driven - today’s customer wants convenience more than they want anything else.

• full service will mean exactly that - agents must consistently deliver the service that they say they will.

• the middle won’t be a happy place - agents that fail to offer a compelling proposition in either self service or full service will see their market share vanish. A confused proposition will definitely fail.

But will you really have to be one or the other? Can you successfully deploy both propositions? Who will the winners and losers be?

Look out for my blog this time next week, when I’ll be sharing my thoughts on exactly these points.

PS - my admiration goes to Peter Knight at Property Academy for launching his new Awards this week. I don’t expect it to be popular with every agent, but it will throw a spotlight on what an agent actually does compared to what they say they do ….. and that is all that matters.

Bob Scarff

Written by
Bob Scarff

Bob Scarff ran the UK’s largest and most successful firm of estate agents, having worked his way up from a trainee negotiator in 1978. Now bringing his passion for customer service and organisational discipline to other companies and sectors, he saw quickly the benefits that Callwell can provide and co-founded PropTech Solutions in 2016 to relaunch it into the market.


This post has no comments, add your own by using the comment form.


Maurice Kilbride

30 Mar 2017 10:06:01

Interesting top Bob and funnily I wrote a blog this week on the same topic, more on the cost versus value angle, but I totally agree that High Street agents need to clearly define their differences but also need to embrace a better use of technology as clients demand more instant and real-time communication and information. The next customer battleground will definitely be service

Russell Griffin

30 Mar 2017 10:53:48

Excellent article Bob. i look forward to seeing you next week at the NAEA Propertymark Masterclass.

Vivienne Harris

30 Mar 2017 12:39:52

I too have written an article on the same topic for a monthly blog in London Property Magazine. It is apparent that the entire industry will have to modernise and accept change.

leave a comment

register your interest

want to know more?

register here