Lessons Learned From Extraordinary Customer Service

Real Estate Agent with Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., Annapolis MD 21403 DRE# 319853

Last weekend we met some friends for dinner at one of the newer restaurants in our area. I had heard from another friend that not only was it good but it was a little pricey too. Hmmm I thought. What was I thinking when I said yes to such a night out? After all, this has been a tough year for me personally and spending money on a pricey meal was not the smartest thing to be doing right now. But I had already said yes so off we went.

It was pouring down rain and stormy when we arrived. Not a good way to start an evening out that is for sure. But start we did as we all arrived at our reserved time. We were promptly greeted by a friendly hostess who took us to our reserved table. After making sure we were comfortable before she left she then offered to remove and store our wet umbrella's. What a nice gesture I thought as I handed her mine.

pricelessSoon a young man arrived, introduced himself and welcomed us to the restaurant. He then offered us water, actually a choice of 3 different waters. We gave our selections and as he left to fill our request our waitress came by and introduced herself. As she looked at each of us she asked 'Have you dined with us before or is this your first visit?' She smiled as we all said 'first visit' and then settled into a rhythm of making sure we were comfortable with what she knew was going to be a memorable evening for us. Our drink orders were taken and the specials given with great delight. Before long we each gently settled in and relaxed as the stormy night we came through to get there became but a faded memory.

As the evening continued the service kept it's beautiful rhythm that was so expertly began by our hostess.  Each visit from the waitress, server or course being delivered was done so with much fanfare and an almost systematic approach. It was as if each server had been graced in the fine art of giving extraordinary customer service as they orchestrated the presentation and delivery of an evening of delicious food. Even though the restaurant was full and we, quite obviously, were not they're only customers, we always felt as if we were.

My friend was right. The food was mouth watering delicious and the price tag at the end was well, just as I had been told, pricey. Yet as we paid the bill and added the tip, price became a minor concern for all of us. Instead we all were, at that very moment, basking in the glow of being the recipients of excellant customer service. Yes, the customer service we received made paying for a pricey meal a pleasant experience and one we were happy to be making.

This week I have been thinking a lot about the customer service I received at that restaurant. And I have been thinking about how my customer service matches up. I must admit that I have always thought my customer service was pretty darn good as over the years I have systematically tweaked and fine tuned dozen of times as I learn or experience something new. 

But here I was wondering once again. Does my customer service match the service I received that night I went out for dinner last weekend? In an economy like we are in now where finding deals, spending less and holding onto every penny is the mantra, here I was, we were, customers gladly spending money because we received something very special. We received extraordinary customer service.

So I sat down once again and went over my systems, my offerings, my way of making my customers feel special. And once again I thought of new ways to take my customer service up a notch. A little more offered here, a little more care there.   

How interesting that a night out that started with me thinking how expensive it was going to be was able to teach me a lesson. A lesson that I may never have learned had I said no to eating there that night. 

Allowing customers and clients to bask in the glow of extraordinary customer service is where the fruits of our labor truly shine in today's economy. It is a wonderful feeling to give and receive in a market that does not offer many such feelings.

Now, after all is said and done I can actually say... my dinner out that night was 'PRICELESS'

Who would have thought.




Posted by

About the Author Martha Brown- As a third generation Annapolitan I love to write about my experiences in and out of the real estate market. Licensed since 1992 all with Long & Foster I am a Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) and a Seller Representation Specialist (SRS) whose passion is homes in the Annapolis MD area and surrounding communities. My goal is to help my clients understand the real estate market and to then make sound real estate decisions. 


Martha can be reached  at 410-260-2800 ofc or 


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Martha Brown of Long & Foster Real Estate.

320 Sixth Street

Annapolis, MD 21403

410-260-2800 office

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Show All Comments
Ceci Burklow
Pride of Texas Real Estate - Austin, TX

Martha - What a great call-to-action inspiration for each of us! I have always tried to keep the Golden Rule in every part of my life - so at work that means to treat the customer how I would want to be treated if our roles were reversed; it has always served me well! 

Your words definitely remind us to constantly keep excellent customer service in the forefront of our minds as a rule not the exception! 

Just as a wonderfully prepared and executed dinner lingers in your mind long after the meal is over, and you share the experience with others - so does our excellent service to our clients get the word spread about us!  In real estate as with many other professions, impressions count not just for the moment but forever as we grow our SOI! 


Sep 06, 2009 05:55 AM #43
Jerry Gray
Wilkinson ERA Real Estate - Winston-Salem, NC
Serving the Triad Since 1980

Martha...Thank you for for the reminder that customer service is priceless. Please continue to give us great posts on this important topic.


Jerry Gray CRB,CRS,GRI / Prudential Carolinas Realty / Winston Salem, NC 

Sep 06, 2009 06:03 AM #44
Debbie Cook
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc - Silver Spring, MD
Silver Spring and Takoma Park Maryland Real Estate

I'm with Margaret Woda, I want to know too! (since I live in Maryland too) Where is this place? or does it really exist? LOL

Sep 06, 2009 06:33 AM #45
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Martha - your experience was a far cry from what we usually experience in restaurants - and I think you should have given them a plug.

If you haven't already done it, how about a Localism post to let others know that going there will truly be worth the price.

Sep 06, 2009 06:51 AM #46
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Generally speaking people do not mind paying for quality and service.  Often times I think they are afraid they will be paying for quality and service that does not exist.

Sep 06, 2009 07:29 AM #47
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg Real Estate

Who would have thought the dinner would give you eye opening questions on your own customer service.  I think we should all think about this and ask what do we offer the customer?  Is it worth it?  Will they think it's worth it and refer people to us?

Sep 06, 2009 08:48 AM #48
Mark Velasco
Sharpstone Commercial - Whittier, CA
Top Producing COMMERCIAL Team 30+ years experience

Great post Martha. We are in the customer service business. Happy customer equals happy agent.

Sep 06, 2009 09:08 AM #49
Mike Henderson
Your complete source for buying HUD homes - Littleton, CO
HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848

Good inspirational story, it reminds me to do all of the little things.

Sep 06, 2009 10:04 AM #50
Monica Hess
Feng Shui This Kentucky - Lexington, KY
Kentucky's Feng Shui Master

Everyone likes to feel special.  It's good to experience it from both sides.

Sep 06, 2009 10:05 AM #51
Pat & Wayne Harriman
Harriman Real Estate, LLC (203) 672-4499 - Wallingford, CT
Broker/Owners, Wallingford CT Real Estate

Excellent points, Martha! We were both Customer Service Managers in our life previous to Real Estate, and we preached the "wow" factor to our subordinates and peers every day. Because of this, providing excellent customer service to our clients is second nature to us now, like breathing. Long ago, we realized that every job, regardless of the field of specialty, is first and foremost a Customer Service job. As a result, we do not think of ourselves as Realtors who provide great customer service, but as Providers of Great Customer Service who just happen to sell real estate.

Sep 06, 2009 11:28 AM #52
Bo Kociuba
McGraw Realtors - Mustang, OK
Realtor - Mustang, Yukon & OKC Metro 405-812-1572

Hello Martha - very interesting story...especially where majority of service oriented businesses do not subscribe to the code...it is so pleasing, motivating and inspiring to hear about such experience...

Thank you for sharing and you can tell that that you paid for the GREAT LESSON and it was well worth it...

With smiles,

Bo in Yukon

Sep 06, 2009 11:43 AM #53
Faye Y. Taylor
StepStone Realty, LLC - Floresville, TX
Homes for Sale Floresville, La Vernia & San Antoni

Great points.  We as self employed people know that is where we earn out bread and butter.  I love it when I get compliments from my clients or even when Gasp they tell me I did not get paid enough for their closing.

But it is different when you work for a pay check.  That motivation to serve comes from within also but is not always recognized. I worked in a call center where compliments were part of your job review.  It means more pay, promotion, recognition, etc.

When you encounter great service make sure & let the manager know.  It means a lot to the "employee".

Sep 06, 2009 03:18 PM #54
Kate Elim
Dockside Realty - Spotsylvania, VA
Realtor 540-226-1964, Selling Homes & Land a

Hi Martha...An extra benefit of providing great service is the satisfaction you feel when the job is done.


Sep 06, 2009 05:28 PM #55
Elayna Fernandez
The Positive Mom - Irving, TX
BE Positive and You'll BE Powerful!

Your experience sounds so inviting! I love that you learned a lesson, but I also love how you had so much I'm sure needed fun and relaxation.  You obviously deserved to be pampered after all the pampering that you do.  Go girl!

Sep 06, 2009 08:11 PM #56
Cassi @ Knightyme Video Tours
Knightyme Video Tours - Lawrenceville, GA

I always remember when I get great customer service it is very special. Working with customers professionally is an art form. It is a shame that customers sometimes abuse that.

Sep 07, 2009 03:06 AM #57
Beverly of Bev & Bob Meaux
Keller Williams Suburban Realty - West Orange, NJ
Where Buying & Selling Works

Anybody can be a real estate agent, but only a few can be great agents. What sets us apart is service, knowledge, and ethics. We learn the best when we're least expecting it. Great story.

Sep 07, 2009 10:11 AM #58
Military Relocation Specialists
Long and Foster Realtors - Virginia Beach, VA

In training this week, TinainVirginia suggested that if we have great service, we post a recommendation on YELP! or other such site, then follow up with a hand written note to that place and include your business card and let them know you posted good feedback and liked their customer service.  It will make them remember you as you remember them.!

Sep 07, 2009 12:31 PM #59
Martha Brown
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., Annapolis MD 21403 - Annapolis, MD
Your Homes Around Annapolis Agent

Wow- well that will teach me to write a post and then take off for a long holiday weekend. LOL.

Thank you all for your wonderful comments. And yes I am going to do a localism post on this restaurant as they deserve to be acknowledged.

As I read through each comment I could sense the wonderful feeling of so many who are graciously working hard at giving that feeling I experienced to others. We are all striving to be more or to do more. That is such a wondeful acknowledgement to our industry and how we, as individuals, are always growing and reaching to offer more, to be more, and to give more. Extraordinary customer service is certainly not the norm for us as we go about our daily lives among the many businesses we visit so when it is experienced it does make an impact.

Thanks again and instead of answering each comment individually I will see you on your blog as I make my way around the Rain :)

Sep 07, 2009 12:51 PM #60
France and Mark Clausen
Realty Austin - Dripping Springs, TX

I agree that now more than ever with the vast majority of the public using the internet to look for their home it is the level of service that we provide that will keep us in business. There was a post a day or so back about the dinosaurs in our industry. Well that is how they survive the ages, they haven't lost touch with their people skills.

Sep 07, 2009 01:53 PM #61
David Knox

Great story, great point. It proves that we don't overcome commission objections by waiting to the end and "overcoming" it through some manipulative dialog. We must first earn it by delivering value.

The establishment of value begins when we first answer the phone and continues to when we show up on time, prepare for the meeting, be quiet and listen to their needs then present solutions that meet those needs.

We want to be so good that the husband and wife head to the kitchen and say: "She's really good and I like her. Let's list with her now and cancel the other appointment."

When you really give it your all, you have the added benefit of not being dependent on getting the listing to feel good. When you give your best, you can Let Go of the outcome.

Speaking of answering the phone, see my ten minute video "Knox First Tuesday" #17 at:


David Knox

Sep 08, 2009 10:32 AM #62
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