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The New Voice of Real Estate?

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phone1.jpg

This original satire was published on November 12, 2007 and still holds true:

Ring Ring Ring

Hello! This is the Consumer Real Estate Sales Assistance Hotline. If you would like to sell your home, press 1. To purchase a home, press 2. If you’re calling from a rotary phone, please hold for assistance.

(Purchase a home.)
Please listen to the full message, as our options have recently changed.
If you would like to write an offer, press 1.
If you would like to respond to a counter offer, press 2.
If your offer has been accepted and you need to know what to do now, press 3.
If you would like to order inspections, press 4.
If you need to order title insurance, press 5.
If you’ve obtained inspections and don’t know what to do now, press 6.
To renegotiate your offer after inspections, press 7.
To obtain obtain necessary documentation from the home owners association, press 8.
If you need to remove contingencies, press 9.
If you would like a refund of your deposit, press 10.
If you would like to speak with a representative, press *.

(10)
Invalid response. Please listen to the automated menu.
Please listen to the full message, as our options have recently changed.
If you would like to write an offer, press 1.
If you would like to respond to a counter offer, press 2.
If your offer has been accepted and you need to know what to do now, press 3.
If you would like to order inspections, press 4.If you need to order title insurance, press 5.
If you’ve obtained inspections and don’t know what to do now, press 6.
To renegotiate your offer after inspections, press 7.
To obtain obtain necessary documentation from the home owners association, press 8.
If you need to remove contingencies, press 9.
If you would like a refund of your deposit, press 10.
If you would like to speak with a representative, press *.

(*)
All of our representatives are busy. Please hold and the next associate will be with you shortly.
(Radio station not quite in tune playing crappy music.)

Thank you for holding. We are experiencing a heavy call volume. Please continue holding and the next representative will be with you shortly.
(More crappy music.)

Thank you for holding. We appreciate your business. The next available representative will answer your call.
(More crappy music.)

Thank you for holding. The Consumer Real Estate Sales Assistance Hotline appreciates your patience. We will be with you shortly.
(More crappy music.)

Thank you for holding. If you’d like to leave a message, please press #.

(#)
Thank you for calling the Consumer Real Estate Sales Assistance Hotline. The voice mail you are calling is full. Please try back again later. Goodbye.

As a lifelong resident and local Realtor, Vicki has established herself as a respected member of the San Mateo County real estate community. She’s known for her wit, sarcasm, and her personality that shows through in her posts. You can find her spouting off at Twitter, here at ag, and her personal blog, San Mateo Real Estate Blog.com.

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24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Jonathan Dalton

    November 13, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    What should the hold music be?

    1) Little Pink Houses
    2) Don’t Worry, Be Happy
    3) Home Sweet Home (Motley Crue version)
    4) It’s the End of the World As We Know It

  2. Mariana

    November 13, 2007 at 11:24 pm

    Hold Music… MY selections:
    1. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (AC/DC)
    2. Head Like a Hole (Nine Inch Nails)
    3. (Random Assortment of American Idol Try-Outs)
    4. Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong (Spin Doctors)

  3. Vicki Moore

    November 14, 2007 at 1:37 am

    Thanks for taking it to the next level.

  4. Mariana

    November 14, 2007 at 4:58 am

    No prob, Vicki. We are here for you…

  5. Diane Cipa

    November 14, 2007 at 3:50 pm

    Good post, now take it a step further and imagine that even offices with this level of service disappear. Cyberhomes and its spawn take center stage and the portal for the next generation of homebuyers is free of the “human” element.

  6. Teresa Boardman

    November 14, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    well done! . . made me smile

  7. April Groves

    November 15, 2007 at 10:32 am

    If it wasn’t so true, I’d be laughing…

    Who am I kidding? That is hilarious!

  8. Athol Kay

    November 15, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    1. I Write The Songs (Barry Mannilow)
    2. Last Christmas (WHAM!)
    3. You Could Be So Good For Me (Amy Grant)
    4. It’s Not Easy Being Green (Kermit The Frog)
    5. Baby We Better Try Get It Together (Barry White)

  9. Ken Brand

    June 28, 2009 at 11:24 am

    I wouldn’t mind it so much if the on-hold music was – “She Bangs” by William Hung.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RrLQUN8UJg

  10. Bridget Magnus

    June 29, 2009 at 12:09 am

    Wow, you’ve managed to capture the essence of dealing with big REO teams. All it needs is “please leave a message and wait up to 2 weeks for a reply”

  11. Paula Henry

    June 29, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Vicki – This is great! How about:

    I’d like to teach the world to sing…
    It’s a Small World

    @Bridget – more like – we’ll only respond if you r offer is accepted..

  12. Vicki Moore

    July 1, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    I did hear that Chase had an outgoing message that said: We’ll be accepting calls after June 26th. CLICK.

    WTH?!?!

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Business Marketing

Use the ‘Blemish Effect’ to skyrocket your sales

(MARKETING) The Blemish Effect dictates that small, adjacent flaws in a product can make it that much more interesting—is perfection out?

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blemish effect

Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”

The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.

The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.

A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.

Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible. If your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.

This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.

When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.

The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.

It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself. Delivering an item which is inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.

In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.

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Business Marketing

Google Chrome will no longer allow premium extensions

(MARKETING) In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue on Chrome.

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Google Chrome open on a laptop on a organized desk.

Google has cracked down on various practices over the past couple of years, but their most recent target—the Google Chrome extensions store—has a few folks scratching their heads.
Over the span of the next few months, Google will phase out paid extensions completely, thus ending a bizarre and relatively negligible corner of internet economy.

This decision comes on the heels of a “temporary” ban on the publication of new premium extensions back in March. According to Engadget, all aspects of paid extension use—including free trials and in-app purchases—will be gone come February 2021.

To be clear, Google’s decision won’t prohibit extension developers from charging customers to use their products; instead, extension developers will be required to find alternative methods of requesting payment. We’ve seen this model work on a donation basis with extensions like AdBlock. But shifting to something similar on a comprehensive scale will be something else entirely.

Interestingly, Google’s angle appears to be in increasing user safety. The Verge reports that their initial suspension of paid extensions was put into place as a response to products that included “fraudulent transactions”, and Google’s subsequent responses since then have comprised more user-facing actions such as removing extensions published by different parties that accomplish replica tasks.

Review manipulation, use of hefty notifications as a part of an extension’s operation, and generally spammy techniques were also eyeballed by Google as problem points in their ongoing suspension leading up to the ban.

In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue. The extension store was a relatively free market in a sense—something that, given the number of parameters being enforced as of now, is less true for the time being.

Similarly, one can only wonder about which avenues vendors will choose when seeking payment for their services in the future. It’s entirely possible that, after Google Chrome shuts down payments in February, the paid section of the extension market will crumble into oblivion, the side effects of which we can’t necessarily picture.

For now, it’s probably best to hold off on buying any premium extensions; after all, there’s at least a fighting chance that they’ll all be free come February—if we make it that far.

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Business Marketing

Bite-sized retail: Macy’s plans to move out of malls

(BUSINESS MARKETING) While Macy’s shares have recently climbed, the department store chain is making a change in regards to big retail shopping malls.

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Macy's retail storefront, which may look different as they scale to smaller stores.

I was recently listening to a podcast on Barstool Sports, and was surprised to hear that their presenting sponsor was Macy’s. This struck me as odd considering the demographic for the show is women in their twenties to thirties, and Macy’s typically doesn’t cater to that crowd. Furthermore, department retail stores are becoming a bit antiquated as is.

The sponsorship made more sense once I learned that Macy’s is restructuring their operation, and now allowing their brand to go the way of the ghost. They feel that while malls will remain in operation, only the best (AKA the malls with the most foot traffic) will stand the test of changes in the shopping experience.

As we’ve seen a gigantic rise this year in online shopping, stores like Macy’s and JC Penney are working hard to keep themselves afloat. There is so much changing in brick and mortar retail that major shifts need to be made.

So, what is Macy’s proposing to do?

The upscale department store chain is going to be testing smaller stores in locations outside of major shopping malls. Bloomingdale’s stores will be doing the same. “We continue to believe that the best malls in the country will thrive,” CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC analysts. “However, we also know that Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have high potential [off]-mall and in smaller formats.”

While the pandemic assuredly plays a role in this, the need for change came even before the hit in March. Macy’s had announced in February their plans to close 125 stores in the next three years. This is in conjunction with Macy’s expansion of Macy’s Backstage, which offers more affordable options.

Gennette also stated that while those original plans are still in place, Macy’s has been closely monitoring the competition in the event that they need to adjust the store closure timeline. At the end of the second quarter, Macy’s had 771 stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury.

Last week, Macy’s shares climbed 3 percent, after the retailer reported a more narrow loss than originally expected, along with stronger sales due to an uptick in their online business. So they’re already doing well in that regard. But will smaller stores be the change they need to survive?

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