The phrase gets thrown around, almost to the point where it’s meaning is nearly completely lost on us. So before I go further let’s set the record straight. Wikipedia states:
Did you notice it says before, during and after a purchase? To me that implies that it should be never ending. Also, did you notice that it mentions customer satisfaction and meeting the customer expectation? Those are key words, especially when you consider that the customer expectations are set before and during the sales process, when ads and salespeople make all the wonderful promises of how their service or product is the best.
I had two interesting customer service experiences this weekend. They both illustrate two points I’d like to make for ME to remember as I deal with my clients in the real estate world. If YOU choose to incorporate them in your line of work, then good on you!
First: I stopped by the local Home and Holiday Expo this weekend. I spied a cool little UTV from Arctic Cat which was their product designed to compete with the Polaris RZR. I asked the sales person if it was the same size as the RZR. They responded so rapidly my head spun, “No, ours is so much better!” I replied, “I didn’t ask if it was better, I asked if it was the same size.” Again, their rapid fire response spun my head, “No, ours is 150 CCs larger!” In exasperation I slowly enunciated my question slightly differently, “Is your UTV the same width as the RZR?” Finally, I got my answer. Now, I’ll admit that maybe the fault was mine for not asking the question perfectly. However, there also lies some fault with the sales person who wanted to rush each answer to tell me how much better his product was than the RZR.
I some times find myself falling into this same pitfall of answering before I truly understand the client’s “real” question. Seeking to understand before I speak would really serve me well. Disney gets this principle very well. Did you know the #1 question at Disney theme parks is, “What time is the 3:00 pm parade?” On face value you’d think the customer/client is out of their mind. “It’s at 3:00 pm, you idiot!”, would be the most likely response. However, Disney was brilliant and after seeking to understand their clients, found that the question was really, “What time does the 3:00 pm parade come through this part of the park?” Seek to understand…
Second: I spent an inordinate amount of time on the phone with T-mobile on Sunday. I am not going to go into the details of my problem, nor their lack of a solution. Let’s just say the whole experience was an exercise in futility. The first thing that drove me nuts was that I was constantly and consistently asked if it was okay to be put on hold. In fact the first CSR explained what they were going to do FOUR times before they actually put me on hold and did what they said they were going to do. After wasting 20 minutes I finally got to the person who was going to “solve” my problem. I was asked multiple times if it was okay to be placed on hold why they researched my issue. The last time they asked I refused to be put on hold. I told the CSR that this wasn’t working for me. I told them to figure out the problem on their time and not mine. That me sitting on hold was just wasting my time. The CSR politely informed me that by hanging up they would no longer be able to work on my issue and that they would then be redirected to the next customer! I asked them if that made any sense to them? They apologized and explained it was T-mobile policy. Unbelievable! It’s our policy to only give you customer service when you are on the phone waiting for us to solve your problem.
This experience led me to wonder, what policies or procedures do I make my clients go through in the process of buying a home that leave them scratching their heads, just like the T-mobile experience had me scratching mine. I would do well to either eliminate these practices where I can, and where I can’t I need to go back to the setting the customer’s expectations, so they will know why they are having to do it that way and manage both the client and the procedure in such a way that it minimizes any negative experience they might have.
As social media becomes more prevalent, excellent customer service will not only become more and more necessary, but it will be essential. While both of these experiences caused me some frustration, I am grateful I had them, as it led to me looking inward at my level of customer service.