Customer Service and Communication

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Hawks Mountain Consulting

Yup ... another post about relationships ... LOL

This week I've learned the real value of providing good customer service.  As many of you now know, I own the development and distribution rights to a software package called "ReDocs", and this package is mainly used by Real Estate Attorneys for completing and filing all the forms required when a deal closes.  Many of our clients have been with  us for over 10 years and have come to rely on our software.

So, when a workstation all of sudden doesn't work, it can cause real headaches, real stress, and can have real economic consequences.

I had one such scenario occur this week.  Actually, it started last week, but I was not able to begin addressing the issue until Monday.  I won't go into too much technical detail, but suffice it to say that the licensed platform upon which our software is based is very particular about the way it is installed and uninstalled.  The licenses are keyed to the account, the IP address, and the to the network adapter.  So, when my client switched from a wireless network to a more secure wired network, the program stopped working.

Unfortunately, it took several days and many emails between myself, the client, the client's IT contractor, and the support team for the platform software to determine the issue and find a solution.  We have a happy ending, and my client is happy that we jumped in and fixed it as quickly as possible, but it revealed to me a few things that I would like to share.

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY - even though you may not have caused the problem, take responsibility for providing the solution.  In this case, the problem was caused by lack of education.  Even though we inform our clients that the software must be uninstalled while connected to the web to ensure that it can be re-installed once any significant changes are made to their systems, telling them this once is not enough.  Time, turnover, and expedience often cause knowledge to be misplaced or lost.  Sure, I could have blamed the client, or even the IT guy, but what would be the point?  The funny thing is that when I finally was able to contact the IT contractor to find out what had been done so we could diagnose the problem, he was immediately putting up the "blame shield" - and having been in his position many times in the past, I can understand that.  There are a lot of software people that will immediately blame the hardware guy (and vise-versa) - I don't think he was expecting me to have the attitude of "I don't really care what caused the problem, other than to try to prevent it in the future with other clients.  I just want to find the solution, and I would like to partner with you to do that."

 STAY IN TOUCH - with your clients - all the time.  This scenario could easily have been avoided if we had been in constant contact with our clients, and their IT support contractors, reminding them of the complex licensing issues with the software platform and keeping them constantly updated with new information.  My new monthly newsletter will be going out the first week of August, and it will have a few permanent sections including "WHAT TO DO BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING!"

 OWN THE PROBLEM - not unlike point number one, but more specifically, take your client by the hand and be with them every step of the way until the problem is solved. I spoke with the client every day, sometimes two or three times, and I emailed them every time new information came to light. I have a happy client because they knew I was on top of the problem and that is *was* going to get resolved, one way or another. I even had the credit card ready to buy them new licenses if it came down to that.

So, what was gained? I have a happy client, I have a new hardware support ally, and both of them are now excellent references and potential sources for referrals. My client has peace of mind that when they call for help we'll be there, and the IT contractor, who was ready to drop them as a client, now has an ally that can jump in and help him when he runs into issues like this with our other clients. No money changed hands, but it was a win-win-win deal for everyone.

Comments (1)

Christine Koch
eXp Realty - San Antonio, TX
Realtor - eXp Realty San Antonio TX

Patrick, very nicely written post.  We all need to remember these simple rules in customer service.

Jul 21, 2011 09:17 AM