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All highly successful real estate marketing professionals understand the high cost of client acquisition and the importance of maintaining customer loyalty over time. But clients can be fickle. The same applies for broker-agent relationships. The slightest unresolved or ignored problem or hiccup in an otherwise flawless relationship can set the stage for customer disloyalty and cause agents to jump ship to your competitor. 

 

The way you handle glitches, hitches, hiccups and problems, and the timeliness in which they are addressed is where the rubber meets the road in remarkable client (and agent) service. This last week provided us with an amazing study in contrast between remarkable customer service and extremely poor service. One company lost us as a customer before we received our first online order. The other company strengthened our customer loyalty to a brand that we have been raving about for years. 

The Missed Opportunity 

I ordered an assortment package of various perishable food items online, inspired by the brand story of this start-up that we heard about on TV, i.e., by word-of-mouth advertising.  On their website it states, “We ship via Fedex on Tuesdays. Your order will arrive on your doorstep Wednesday – Thursday”.

When the package did not arrive as promised, I notified the company by email and made a phone call to their customer service number.  I got a recording that they would answer the call within one day. 

But there was no email reply, nor was the phone call returned. When the package finally arrived on Friday, we refused it. I notified the company asking for a refund.  “No refunds or returns. See our return policy on our website.” was the answer that came back! After politely reiterating that the delivery came one day later than what was promised on their website, I then had to call my credit card and stop payment.  I also stated that we would alert the credit card company if they changed their mind about the refund, which they finally did. This glitch was an opportunity to turn us into raving fans. But it was too late.

The Golden Opportunity

Ron accidently broke his sunglasses, for the second time that we bought from our favorite brand. When we contacted them for the repair the estimate was going to cost as much (including postage and previous repair) as we had paid for this item in the first place. When I questioned the sturdiness of the glasses and the expense in an email, I received a long lecture explaining how we should use the itemassumingwe had misused it. In other words, this was clearly our fault. 

We had praised this company in blog posts and also to our friends for years.  Just as we were about to give up on this brand, the company sent another email to ask us if we were satisfied with their responses.  I wrote back saying, I felt lectured rather than helped, and realized that this may be company policy.  I also added that my brand loyalty was shaken.  The next response I received was that they would take care of the repair at no charge to us. Loyalty restored!

Missed opportunity or Golden Opportunity?  That is the question when it comes to handling glitches, hitches, hiccups and problems in your real estate practice or in your company.