AT REAL ESTATE PIPELINE, complaints are viewed as opportunities.
Well, we believe the vast majority of the time, clients who contact us with a complaint value our service and want to continue working with us - they just need to have a grievance addressed.
Worse is an angry client who doesn't contact us. Our thinking is that if a client is upset and doesn't bother getting in touch with us, they probably have simply decided not to work with our company any longer.
Those folks will be taking their business elsewhere - and they will share their dissatisfaction with their friends and associates along the way.
I believe the same dynamic plays out for real estate agents. When a client calls with a complaint, view it as an opportunity to save that relationship and to avoid negative comments.
So, just how does one go about addressing a complaint? Well, for starters, DON'T:
- Be defensive or rude. Rather than spending your energy defending your practices, use it to resolve the particular issue in question.
- Take it personally. The client is upset, but more than likely they are unhappy with service they have received, not with you personally. Try to remember that.
- Blame someone else. Accept responsibility, even if it could be passed on to a colleague or policy.
Instead, what you might try to DO is:
- Listen. Ask questions, make sure you understand the reason for the complaint and how the client wants it resolved. Make it clear you understand their frustration. Give them a chance to vent.
- Apologize. A sincere apology can go a long ways. Click here for a good site on how to craft a successful apology.
- Offer real solutions. The best way to diffuse a complaint is to fix the source of the problem.
- Prevent the complaints in the first place. Keep channels of communications open, make sure your client understands how you operate and what they should expect from your service. Be aware of activities that seem to prompt complaints. For real estate agents, most complaints seem to have similar causes and a smart agent will tread carefully when they find themselves in certain circumstances. To review an earlier post on the leading causes for complaints to be filed against agents, click here.
- For more good suggestions on how to handle complaints, the following site offers a realistic five-step process for successfully handling complaints.
For another source of advice on how best to work with complaints, click here.
But what happens if a dissatisfied client takes their complaint to the public rather than to you? These circumstances can be more difficult for an agent to deal with and can potentially be more damaging to their business.
Once a complaint is out there on the Internet there is little a professional can do so the time to be proactive is before a problem escalates to that extent.
For starters, it can just be tricky finding out that Internet complaints exist. Regardless of how you react to them, it is probably a good thing to check on occasion to see what's been posted. Google your company name and visit sites where complaints oftentimes are lodged. Following are links to several locations where damaging complaints often crop up:
Remember, address a complaint quickly and properly and keep it between you and a client. Most of the time, you can save the client and keep the complaint from going further.