Online Agent vs The High Street Agent? The answer is in the quality of customer service

Published: 26/06/2017 By David Brough

The rise in popularity of online estate agents raises the question about the real value of opting for a bricks-and-mortar agency: the answer lies in the quality of customer service.
Online lettings and sales agents cannot compete with the personal touch – that is, having a personable point of contact with a qualified professional at a High Street agency who can push hard to solve problems and get things done.
Online agents tend to pile the time onto the client – lengthy forms to be filled in, with the onus of getting deals done just as heavily placed on the client’s shoulders as the agent’s.
Nicole Chamberland, owner of Chamberland Residential, says high quality customer service is what really sets her business apart from online agencies, which depend on the efficiency of their websites to drive their businesses forward.
She says the advice that her team can give to applicant tenants and to landlords about residential requirements, eases the burden for people during a stressful period.
“With the ever demanding items of legislation that are being imposed upon landlords for monitoring tenants and tenancies, it is getting more and more laborious with the specific checks and paperwork involved,” Nicole says.
“Having an actual agent there to guide you or take the burden away will help immensely, especially when some of the penalties can be prison time. An online agent will almost certainly not be willing to perform such a service with any level of liability or diligence.”
Nicole says the online agent takes away the personal, face-to-face  dimension required to be the best possible intermediary between tenant and landlord, or buyer and seller.
“The old saying goes ‘People buy People’ and with the increase of online agents and getting rid of the ‘middle man/high street agents’ it can be fairly daunting for new tenants to simply take a risk on a major decision, like where to rent, without ever having met someone.
“Especially if there are special conditions to their offer, which almost all tenancies have nowadays.”
The heart of customer service is how to solve a problem quickly and efficiently. The best solution that an online agent typically offers is a phone call or a Helpdesk message to an agent.
But a bricks-and-mortar agency delivers the personal service to get things moving again quickly.
Nicole says the frontline High Street agent is the best means of solving practical problems faced by tenants, for example.
“Who do they speak to when they move in and their conditions haven’t been met or there are problems and the landlord is not interested in assisting?
“This is where the High Street Agent comes in for support and of course Duty of Care.
“Face to face contact is often key and a relationship based on trust is what we strive for as it usually makes the entire process seamless.”

About the Blogger: David Brough has been a buy-to-let investor for over 20 years, originally letting out properties in London while he was working as a Reuters foreign correspondent. David’s Blogs on the Chamberland Residential website look at some of the major issues and challenges faced by tenants and landlords, and buyers and sellers in the lettings and sales markets today, and how best to solve them. Apart from his interests in property, David is Editor of digital magazine Jewellery Outlook, and of interior design website