A VITAL cog in the RealService business is the in-house research team.
These skilled researchers conduct the interviews which give RealService clients the in-depth feedback upon which they base key business decisions.
Many of the interviewers have worked for RealService for many years, returning to projects they know intimately on an annual basis. Others have backgrounds in languages, which enables the company to carry out research in the native tongues of customers all over Europe and beyond. For the Cromwell Property Group, for example, interviewers operate in French, Dutch, Italian, Danish, Finnish, and German.
This week, director and chief operating officer Louise Freethy registered her thanks to the team who have brought invaluable insight to RealService clients over the past 22 years, with a special emphasis on research carried out during the pandemic which, she said, has helped clients sketch out “the new normal”.
“Our research team are the unsung heroes of our business,” she said.
“They are practised in gaining invaluable information which can be analysed and presented to our clients. This has been true since RealService was founded in 1999, but especially over the last months where the real estate industry has been hungry for intelligence around what they can expect the world to look like post pandemic.
Vast knowledge of the property industry
“We are not a market research company. We are a company with vast knowledge of the property industry and the insight our interviewers glean is used by our clients to inform their strategic business decisions.
“Major property companies will be establishing their post-pandemic offerings based on the findings of our research.
“The interviewers have to be highly proficient. They have to engage busy people in a conversation which will provide important feedback on specific questions, and, most importantly, they provide an independent voice.
“We rely on them and I wanted to take an opportunity to thank them for their work.”
So, what makes a great interview?
“A great interview is a conversation which is directed by the interviewer to cover specific points,” said April Davies, who has been with RealService for 12 years and whose projects have included Cadogan, Great Portland Estates, The Crown Estate and others.
“We are often interviewing very busy people so we need to engage with them very quickly and convince them of the value of taking part in the research.
“It is about covering all the bases in the questionnaire and providing real-life examples, so when our client reads the transcript they know exactly why their customer thinks they are doing a good – or bad – job and what they can do to improve.”
The value of RealService feedback is described as “crucial” by David O’Sullivan, Director of Occupier and Property Services at Great Portland Estates.
“The feedback from the RealService surveys is not just important, it’s crucial, critical,” he said.
‘The feedback loop is essential’
“The feedback loop is essential and it’s one of the reasons we moved our survey from a biennial event to an annual one. Two years is too long to go without talking with your customers.
“To the question, what do we do with that research, the answer is we create action plans from the feedback.”
Before the start of each project, the interviewing team is briefed by the project manager. All have been trained around issues such as confidentiality and data protection. Last month, all undertook Interviewer Refresher Training.
“We believe our research team is our point of difference,” said Louise Freethy.
“We do not contract out our interviewing to a call centre. We use an experienced, in-house team who are a key component of our business.
“They go above and beyond when interviewing to provide the sort of insight which allows RealService to go above and beyond for our clients.”