A Day in the Life of a Consumer - Lessons and Reminders for us All!

Real Estate Agent with Solutions Real Estate CA DRE #01490977

I spent the day today as a consumer.

A neat customer service thoughtSomewhat urgent family issues called me to Philadelphia for several days - seemed like an interesting opportunity to pay attention to the consumer experience, especially since traveling these days can be such a nuisance. Perhaps there would be some lessons and reminders about customer service. 


A quick drive early in the morning before rush hour brought me to the Long Term Parking facility I have used before - Park Shuttle and Fly off Harbor Drive. I was greeted at the automatic gate in the rain by a friendly young woman offering me the newspaper. She got me my ticket and asked if I had been there before. I had. She wished me a good day. I was impressed.

There was a waiting shuttle in the aisle where I was asked to park; the driver appeared at my car before I had even gotten out asking if I needed help with any luggage.  I was impressed. 

There were 2 guys on the shuttle, one has clearly asked about a newspaper, so when we pulled up to the exit on the way to the airport the same young woman who had greeted me appeared with a paper for this passenger - the shuttle driver had clearly called ahead. Politeness, smiles, and doing things I didn't expect made for a very impressive customer experience early in the morning. Would I use this company again? You bet. I think they made a great first impression. Something to keep in mind. 


Airport security was the next stop. I always expect this to be a pain, since it usually is. I always feel like part of a cattle drive, at the mercy of some ambivalent TSA employee. The day was going well - no line at all. Got everything unloaded, including the shoes (I hate that); the TSA agent politely reminded me to please also include my cell phone. Not a big deal but she was polite about it and gave me a smile. I suppose on busy days things are not so nice. I don't envy these folks these days. We don't have a choice of providers here, but at least the experience can be made a bit better with a little effort. 


Brad Anderson, ActiveRain Community BuilderI upgraded my outside blog on ActiveRain last night...finally. I ran into a couple of issues so I sent Brad Andersohn a late night note. Checked my email on my Blackberry this morning while waiting to board the plane and saw one from Brad (no surprise). I decided to call to chat about the issues...my new domain, and a problem with my theme.

True to form, Brad took charge, changed my theme, and fixed the issue with the new domain that I could not resolve the night before. Since I was having problems with Internet access at the airport, Brad's willingness to fix things on the spot so as to not inconvenience me was a blessing. I give Brad an A+ for service. Sorta what we see regularly on AR. Providing a solution that worked without having to be asked is a good reminder, don't you think?

Brad also said something I thought we should all keep in mind when I complimented him on his service "I enjoy it and it's my job." My retort? Yes, but it is often someone's job but they DON'T do it. (see #5 for a good example).

Lesson 4 - STUCK IN A RUT

I flew US Airways using frequent flyer miles. So I didn't REALLY have a choice. All in all the experience was good. Not great. But then flying these days rarely is (exception -two different flights to San Francisco via Virgin America last year that MADE we tell others about trying them out). Everyone was pleasant, the flight was comfortable and on time (that was a pleasant surprise), but it sure didn't wow me in any way. And now they are charging $1 for coffee? Give me a break. Maybe being stuck in a rut is what happens when some companies don't care about setting themselves apart, or feel there is no competition to worry about. So the service is adequate. But that's it.


What face are YOU presenting to YOUR clients?I rented an SUV from Budget Rental to get from the airport to my destination about an hour west of Philly. The shuttle service was efficient - I was lucky and waited less than 2 minutes. The driver was polite. At the rental counter the fellow who helped me did what he was supposed to do. I got what I expected. But the attitude was lousy. Apathetic, no smile, and a total disinterest in what he was doing. Sure the service WAS provided but I felt like I was interfering with his day. He clearly was not enjoying his job and didn't seem to care what I might think. My first impression at this Budget Counter? Lousy. Makes me thinking twice about returning. We'll see what happens when the car is returned on Monday. But they have already blown their chance to impress this consumer. Did I feel special or welcome? Nope, not a bit.

There are too many opportunities in our business to provide excellent service that goes beyond what the client wants, needs or even expects. But also many chances to really blow it. And there is plenty of competition if we do.

Are you seeking opportunities to shine in your service? And mindful of the times when you are not doing the best you can? Sometimes there are things we have to do that one might label drudgery. And clients don't have a choice because it's part of the process. But we can make the experience better if we choose.

NOTE: I just realized that this is POST #1000 on AR. Amazing. Whoda thought I could yap so much.


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Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate

Jeff, Congratulations to you on your 1000th post, wow. We are in the Customer Service industry, we also have a fiduciary to represent our clients, when I see this not being provided it just really upsets me. I have to bite my tongue so many times at realtors who don't get back to you for 2 days to see a house you wanted to show a day ago.  I often wonder how the seller would feel if they knew the level their agent was performing.

Jan 24, 2009 12:50 AM #30
Bill Gillhespy
16 Sunview Blvd - Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos

Morning Jeff,  Sad commentary but it really doesn't take much effort to stand out these days !

Jan 24, 2009 01:06 AM #31
Gwenn Tanvas NMLS# 274839
AMEC Home Loans | NMLS# 150953 - Appleton, WI
The Mortgage Gal, 920.267.7891~ SMART - INNOVATIVE

Jeff - Great Post - It brings to mind a life success analogy I heard not to long ago. It was quite involved, but the point was this . . . "the only thing we have complete and absolute control over,is our ATTITUDE" There is so much truth in that statement - Again, thanks for the great post and Congratz on your 1K post.  

Jan 24, 2009 01:29 AM #32
Diane Aurit
LKN Realty, LLC - Mooresville, NC
Lake Norman Real Estate

Jeff, Isn't it amazing how much we learn if we actually tune in to our experiences each day?  Outstanding experiences both good and bad stand out but many times we are too busy to truly learn from them.  Great job.  I hope all is well with you.

Jan 24, 2009 01:37 AM #33
Suzanne Sands
Pavao Real Estate - Somerset, MA
Somerset MA Real Estate

Hi Jeff,

Congratulations on your 1000th post, you sure do talk a lot! LOL! I love when I get get good customer service, sometimes it can be the little things that make a difference. Attitude is everything! :) 

Jan 24, 2009 01:51 AM #34
Sharon Paxson
Compass - Newport Beach, CA
Newport Beach Real Estate

Hi  Jeff - congrats on the feature, and your 1000th post. Wow that is an achievement. Great post about customer service and what you remember. Very nicely illustrated points about each of the service providers you utilized. Hope you have a great trip!

Jan 24, 2009 02:00 AM #35
Retired Notworking
Tallahassee, FL

Great description of both good and bad customer service, which should be uppermost in every businessperson's mind.

Jan 24, 2009 02:06 AM #36
Barb Szabo, CRS
RE/MAX Trinity Brecksville Ohio - Cleveland, OH
E-pro Realtor, Cleveland Ohio Homes

Jeff, This is a great reminder to us all that we should sometimes act as the consumer in our own business i.e. go on the internet,,personal websites, company websites, active rain, blogs, other social media networks and see what the consumer is seeing about us.  It is very insightful.

Jan 24, 2009 02:43 AM #37

It takes running into people at the Rental counter like that for us to do a self check on "how to not be that guy" when we are roaming daily.  Amazing the difference a greeting or smile makes.

Have a safe trip.  Thanks for the post

Jan 24, 2009 05:42 AM #38
Sarah, John Rummage
Benchmark Realty LLC, Nashville TN 615.516.5233 - Nashville, TN
Love Being Realtors® in the Nashville TN Area!

It is a good thing to remember that wherever we are, it is --ME, Inc--When I do a poor job or have a bad attitude, sure it reflects on the company I work for, but it mainly reflects on ME.  The person who started in the bank's lowest position and moved on to be president of the bank, did it because of....attitude.  The person who stayed in the lowest position (unless they wanted to) for many years and is still there, probably did it because of.....attitude.   

Jan 24, 2009 05:57 AM #39
Kathy Opatka
Serving Ocean City, MD, & The Delaware Beaches


You were very observant during your day as a consumer!  How was the trip back?

Kathy Opatka, Re/max Premier Properties, OCEAN CITY,MARYLAND

Jan 24, 2009 06:03 AM #40
JB Brookman
JB Brookman Photography - Franklin, TN
High School Senior Portrait Photographer


It's always said that a great or poor experience is shared with many others.  You proved it in this post.  This is definitely a wake up call, reminding us that consumers are always out there, "experiencing" our service.

Jan 24, 2009 06:48 AM #41
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Robert - hey thanks for the compliment. It has been in intriguing journey.

Sheldon - I appreciate it. Yes, finding folks who really provide outstanding service is such a pleasure, and often a surprise. I try to always let them know how much I appreciate it, too.


Jan 24, 2009 09:43 AM #42
Tina Maraj
RE/MAX Cornerstone - Fullerton, CA
Top Agent in Fullerton 2016-2018 714-403-7901

Congrats Jeff on your 1000th post. I always enjoy reading your great ideas.

Jan 24, 2009 01:37 PM #43
AMBER NOBLE GARLAND - Top Real Estate Expert, Property Tax Appeal Specialist & Author
Strategic Marketing Expert & Relocation Specialist Serving New Jersey and nationwide! - Marlboro, NJ
- The Agent You Can Trust To Deliver REAL Results!

Jeff congrats on your 1000th post! It's interesting to trade places with the consumer...it helps us give better service. Thanks for sharing.

Jan 24, 2009 02:44 PM #44
Vickie McCartney
Maverick Realty - Owensboro, KY
Broker, Real Estate Agent Owensboro KY

Jeff~ It is refreshing when we have good customer service experiences.  Looks like you are going to my old stomping ground...  It makes me homesick a little! 

Jan 24, 2009 03:59 PM #45
Gena Riede
Riede Real Estate, Lic. 01310792 - Sacramento, CA
Real Estate Broker - Sacramento CA Real Estate (916) 417-2699

Jeff, how true this is...customer service is what it is all about!  Hope all is well with this sudden trip and God speed.

Jan 25, 2009 04:24 AM #46
Rene Fabre
First American Title - Seattle, WA
Marketing in the Digital Age

Jeff... thanks for a great post and congrats on #1000. Next to that, I feel like such a newbie, but I'm enjoying the community. Our industry is so intensely competitive. What you say is so true. We can work very hard for a long time to provide a great customer experience then lose it in a minute if you're not paying attention and don't follow through. As a consumer, I find it so uplifting to be treated kindly, like their glad I'm there, and don't mind providing me with a service. And if I get a smile too, well it goes a long way to making it a great day.


Jan 25, 2009 08:16 AM #47
Kay Meckes (the wife of Jeff D.)

Jeff - are you SURE it is ONLY 1,000??  Seems like it could be 10,000 to me!!  :-)  Have a safe trip home.  Love, Kay (wife of Jeff Dowler, the blogger)

Jan 25, 2009 01:51 PM #48
Cafe Pasadena.wordpress.com

Jeff, thanks for your generous comment re my restaurant review in Pasadena.

I love your subject on this current post re customers & customer service!

Jan 28, 2009 05:37 AM #49
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Jeff Dowler, CRS

The Southern California Relocation Dude
What's my Carlsbad CA Area Home Worth??
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