Multiple choices improve consumer experience


Who is the best performer?Reader Question: Why do you recommend interviewing multiple people when choosing a real estate agent? Honestly, it seems unwieldy but I would like to understand the logic. Paul H.

Monty’s Answer: Interviewing all service providers, not just real estate agents, is a practice that improves the consumer experience. It does take some time to work through the steps but when combined with other activities in your daily life the time is well worth the effort. Here is some background and the explanation; I hope you will agree.

The background

“Service” is; an act of helpful activity; aid: to do someone a service. There are many types of services; from the obvious to the subtle, the tangible to the intangible.

Service providers can have millions of customers. A public utility or cable company being examples of very large businesses that provides a service. The focus here is on personal service providers. For a few examples: Physicians, fitness professionals, and pharmacists help us with our health. Accountants, attorneys, and money managers help us plan our estates and make financial decisions. Real estate agents help us with a place called home.

We live in an economy where service businesses dominate the landscape. Most states require many service providers to be licensed and often require continuing education. The states also have the power to ensure licensees adhere to the law. Making a practice of vetting multiple vendors with service related transactions will pay dividends to the engaged consumers.

The service industry playing field

  • While meeting the state’s requirements, service providers are not all created equal. We all know this from our workplace experiences. Whether it is native intelligence, common sense, energy, desire to please, or other factors, some of us simply outperform others at our work.
  • Companies providing personal services using contractors or employees are not all created equal. Again, our work histories allowed us to see how different organizations treat both their employees and the consumers of their service. Training, tools, oversight and other management practices that organizations provide their people directly affect customer service when comparing the outcomes of competing organizations.
  • Human nature plays a significant role in human interaction. Because most of us tend to like and trust others intuitively, too often, we find out after we have engaged a service provider we acted too quickly. If a person is not honest with themselves, it hard to be honest with others. If one is lazy or in a hurry, it leads to shortcuts that can put customers at risk. If money alone drives our motivation, our service may be compromised. Even with good due diligence, these people traits can be difficult to recognize. Smart interviewing tactics help.

Maximize positive personal service experiences:

  1. Seek recommendations from respected sources or personal experiences. Do not stop at one but gather five or six referrals. Can you observe the candidates working? What was it about the service that wowed your source?
  1. Gather information about each candidate. Check out their website. Think about your expectations and what information you need. Make a list of questions you would like answered. Each service type will require different questions. Here are sample real estate agent questions at
  1. Contact each candidate to gather more information. Ask if you can email your questions to them to save them time, and you will follow-up after you have reviewed their answers. What would you think if someone told you on the phone they would respond, but did not? You want five or six candidates in anticipation of no-shows.
  1. Review the collected data to compare the candidates. You may want to follow-up with a phone call or personal visit with one or more candidate.
  1. Make the selection. You can compare written answers for depth, insightfulness, cooperation, and more. Interestingly, the answers can all be different.

The benefits of taking these steps:

  • You have learned about each candidate by “testing” before you choose.
  • You have learned more about the service you are seeking.
  • You gain confidence and conviction in your decision.
  • The likelihood of a positive result increases with an informed choice.

In conclusion

Most service providers are accustomed to interviews. Experience suggests that consumers sometimes pick service providers for the wrong reasons. Attending the same church, children on the same soccer team or “they seem like a nice person” are not good reasons to pick a vendor when health, finances or other important decisions are on the line. Look for honesty, knowledge and efficiency.