Is your prospective homebuyer a testy multi-millionaire who makes gruff demands and takes lots of notes? If so -- and if you were in the financial services business -- you might be dealing with a wealthy Mystery Shopper trained to evaluate your professionalism.
UBS, the global financial services firm, is one of several firms which have used wealthy Mystery Shoppers for years to help fine tune the services the companies’ wealth advisors offer. One top executive at USB says the idea is to provide deluxe service no matter where in the world the bank’s ultra-affluent clients go. He compares it to offering the ‘Lexus experience.”
While Mystery Shoppers may not be active yet in the luxury housing market (as far as I know), it’s interesting to look at the process in a related business – investment services. It’s also useful to look at what mystery shopping has taught UBS.
Here’s how it works. USB recruits wealthy individuals (minimum net worth of $2 million), trains them, pays them well, and sends them out to evaluate one of USB’s financial advisors and one of the competitor’s. Shoppers are not clients of the bank and agree to not become clients for at least one year.
Here are just a few of the 142 factors Mystery Shoppers use to evaluate an advisor (Try substituting REALTOR for the word advisor):
- How long did it take the advisor to respond after the first query?
- Did the advisor mention his or her certification when introducing himself or herself?
- Were the advisors clothes clean and smart?
- Was the advisor prepared for the meeting?
- Did the advisor make generous use of graphs, charts, pictures, etc…and use language that was easy to understand?
- Did the meeting take place without major interruptions?
- Did the advisor listen closely to what you had to say?
Here are some conclusions from the Mystery Shopping:
- The first impression is critically important
- Advisors who score well are excellent listeners (clients want you to understand their needs)
- Client experience is more important to a continuing relationship than portfolio results
- Good advisors:
- Ask a lot of questions
- Are organized and inquisitive
- Are detail oriented
- Take notes
- Have a concrete plan
- Perform a detailed analysis
- Address client feedback in their proposals
Consider the parallels between the delivery of real estate services and investment services and it seems that many luxury real estate agents could learn from Mystery Shoppers in the financial business.