Customer Service Ain't What it Used to be

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Mercari Consulting (formerly Brochures by Design)

Do businesses prioritize customer service anymore? How many times have you gone to a fast-food restaurant and had to wait for the server to finish his/her conversation with a co-worker before they'd ask for your order? Or how about returning an unwanted item to the customer service center of your local retail store? Do they act as if they are doing you a favor by simply waiting on you? I'm fed up with our culture's lack of customer service!

I know, what can I expect from a teenager who's making minimum wage at the burger joint? Well, I expect fast, friendly, reliable service, that's what! If it weren't for us -- their customers -- they wouldn't have a job! When are they going to wake up and realize their customers aren't an imposition, we're the reason they're working in the first place.

You know who I think is at fault here? Often times it's the management. I don't believe they're training their employees to serve their customers, perhaps because no one taught them!

When I do business with someone, I expect excellent customer service. Is that too much to ask? I don't think so. And I also don't think it's that hard to do. In my own business, I make customer service a priority." I WILL NOT stop until my client is satisfied. If I've made a mistake, and I have, I make it up to my client. If I cannot correct the error, I offer my client discounts and other amenities to make it up to them.

If you think I'm laying it on too strong, think about this: A bad customer experience can spread ten-fold. You know the old saying, "If a customer experiences bad service, they'll tell 10 friends, who in turn tell 10 friends, and so on."

In "Customer Service is Not a Four-Letter Word", Gregory P. Smith states, "Many organizations have eliminated the human element, replacing it with a lower-cost, impersonal conglomeration of voice mail, email, and online request forms. For many shortsighted service companies, it is about cutting costs, cutting corners and driving up profits."

I'd like to add one of my personal pet peeves to his list of impersonal conglomerations: telephone menus. You know, where you call a number and go through the list of options, never having the opportunity to speak to a live person. Sometimes, that's all I need to do. Financial institutions, and banks in particular, are infamous for doing this. What happened to good old-fashioned customer service?

I believe good service can make up for a lot. If a customer feels that you really care about them, they not only will continue doing business with you, they'll give you some leeway when you need it. Humans aren't perfect and there will be times when we make mistakes. If you have a good relationship with a client, there's a good chance they'll realize that people make mistakes and continue doing business with you instead of switching to your competitor.

I cannot stress enough how important I think superior customer service is to a client-business relationship. Think about the times you've been treated exceptionally well by a business and how it made you feel. Alternately, consider the times you were treated poorly by a representative of a business. This little exercise will give you a good idea of how important customer service is to a business that wants to stay in business.

Comments (11)

Allison Stewart
St.Cloud Homes - Saint Cloud, FL
St. Cloud Fl Realtor, Osceola County Real Estate 407-616-9904
You right I wrote a funny blog about it as well. Good point!
Mar 27, 2007 12:35 AM
Courtney Fontenot
Alpha Prosperity Management - Missouri City, TX
NAR Certified REPA, REW
Thanks for the reminder. We all get caught up in the bottom line and forget why we are successful to begin with. No matter what type of business your in, we all have some sort of customer. And I agree with you 100%, poor customer service will sooner or later, ruin your business.
Mar 29, 2007 12:02 PM
Gwendolyn Wrigh
Victory Virtual Solutions - Beaufort, SC
Victory Virtual Solutions

Hi Evy,

Great post! Customer service is number one in my business. I have a fairly small operation, but I treat my few clients like royalty. Though I have grown and intend on taking on 6 more full time clients, I will not compromise the level of customer service that my clients quickly become accustomed to. Like my great-grandmother used to tell us when I was younger, "manners will take you where money won't". Basically, treating your customers with the utmost respect and being courteous and responsive is a win-win. 

Thanks,

Gwendolyn Y. Wright, MS, CRESS 

 VAASST ID CARD

Apr 05, 2007 11:45 AM
Jody Deeds
Key Realty, LTD - Columbus, OH
"Helping You Move On With Your Plans"

Being a very CUSTOMER CENTRIC agent, I think maybe I'm more prone to notice bad customer service in stores, restaurants, etc. that I frequent.  I believe that the majority of the time poor service boils down to the manager, broker, etc. and how they train their team, and how they hold their team accountable. 

Many businesses these days are just happy to have people in place and are too busy, hectic, etc. to focus on the proper training and getting the right people.  I know when I visit a place where the employees are more concerned about discussing their social calendar with fellow employees or more focused on maintaining their poor mood rather than focusing on me (the customer), it leaves little room for me to give them a glowing review (REFERRAL).

Apr 09, 2007 04:10 AM
Dale Baker
Baker Energy Audits and Commercial Properties Inspections - Claremont, NH
New Hampshire Relocation Real Estate Information

Howdy Evy

You are very right. They will wake up when there manager's wake up. It's up to there manager's to show them how to give good customer service and not just put them out there hoping they will do it.

Have a good one

Jul 30, 2007 10:29 AM
Anonymous
Evy Williams

You're right, Terry. How far could we get in our businesses without excellent people skills and superior customer service? Not very far at all, that's for sure. When I see these people with their bad attitudes, I think, "This is probably the most they'll ever be." I wish they knew how far they could go with better attitudes.

 Evy

Jul 30, 2007 01:17 PM
#7
Diane Velikis
Coldwell & Banker Busch Real Estate - Luzerne, PA
Luzerne County Real Estate

The key to good customer service is making your client not feel insignificant. Realtors need to get this....

That is why we walk around with a blemished reputation

Jul 31, 2007 12:41 AM
Sandy Nelson
Riley Jackson Real Estate Inc. - Olympia, WA
your Olympia area Realtor

I just read the the latest NAR report about how we (Realtors) rate with consumers. We came out favorbly with 68% of people. 84% of people who recently used a real estate sales person or broker rated their sales person or broker favorably. That's not too bad.

Sandy

Jul 31, 2007 04:03 PM
JudyAnn Lorenz
Bar JD Communications - Mansfield, MO
Virtual Marketing Consultant

Good Customer service is one of the highest core values we can bring to our business table.

That being said, I just very seldom receive poor service.  Sometimes it is in the perception of what I should expect.   Customer service is delivered and received by human beings.  The HU factor comes from both directions.

Jul 31, 2007 04:16 PM
Anonymous
Evy Williams

Judy, I respectfully disagree. If we're paying for a service, we should expect (and get) excellent customer service. There's no excuse for someone to be rude or unappreciative of a client/customer. The only reason they have a job is because of us, the customers.

I've never expected someone to treat me like royalty; I just expect some common courtesy. They should not treat us as if we are an imposition. That's what I am trying to say.

Evy

Aug 01, 2007 03:31 AM
#11