Connect with us

Business News

Where customer service ends and gift giving begins

(Business News) Here are some intuitive ways to improve your sales with better customer service policies and procedures without breaking the bank.

Published

on

gift wrapped

gift wrapped

Why Don’t We Listen to Advice?

It has happened to all of us. And, I’m not exactly sure why. But some parent, guardian, or mentor in our lives advises us to go down one path, and then instead we select another. Probably most of us experienced this as teenagers, when parents or older siblings told us what to do, but we did something else instead.

bar
I’m not exactly why this phenomenon occurs, but it happens all the time. Perhaps we think we know best—that we are more intimately involved in the correct path, so we believe that we can make a better decision.

I’ve just been a fly in the wall in a situation such as this one—and it relates to customer service. In real estate, just as in all fields where customer service is paramount, you meet all sorts of people who have different expectations about the sales process and their customer service experience.

Buying a Home Is Not Like Buying Jeans

However, selling or buying a home or a condominium is not quite the same as buying a pair of jeans at the mall, and most buyers and sellers have not bought and sold nearly as many properties as they have purchases at the mall, and the two are not interchangeable.

So, this agent that I know recently closed a transaction where he represented some acquaintances of his, on the purchase of a low-end home in mediocre condition. They completed all of their inspections and conducted all of their due diligence activities. And while they did run into some personal troubles with their loan, they finally did close on their very first home.

Sadly, in this case, the agent’s work didn’t end when the transaction closed and the commission check was paid.

Now, the clients are dissatisfied with the property and have a laundry list of wants that include new carpet and removal of the “popcorn” on the ceiling. They are requesting that the agent and their lender to chip in. And, despite my advice, this agent is getting much more involved than he should.

3 Ways to Avoid an Unpleasant Customer Service Experience

Unfortunately a situation such as this one is not uncommon in real estate, and there are three ways to avoid finding yourself in such a hole.

  1. Set expectations accordingly. If you are working with homebuyers and sellers or any other sorts of clients, you need to set expectations accordingly. You need to explain your role in the transaction up front, and clarify what your clients can expect from you.
  2. Explain the process thoroughly. If you are working with newbie homebuyers and sellers, you must take the time to spell out every part of the process in detail.Explain why the home inspection is important and encourage your clients to study all of the disclosures in great detail so that they are making an informed decision and not one with rose-colored glasses. Don’t rely on electronic signature platforms and text messages to do this for you; this must be accomplished one-on-one.
  3. Just say “no.” Commission-based earners need to determine where the rubber meets the road. While sometimes awkward, it’s often easier to say “no” than get involved in a dicey situation where you end up using your entire commission check to pay for new carpet for your client’s home.You may need to set a policy about not working with friends or relatives, and instead refer them to colleagues. It may also mean that you tell clients what the specifics of your contribution policy.

Hindsight is always 20/20. But if you develop some good policies and procedures for working with your own clients before you embark on a sales adventure, you’ll end up closing lots of deals and getting lots of referrals. And when you visit a past client’s home, the carpet on the floor will not have been a gift from you.

Melissa Zavala is the Broker/Owner of Broadpoint Properties and Head Honcho of Short Sale Expeditor®, and Chief Executive Officer of Transaction 911. Before landing in real estate, she had careers in education and publishing. Most recently, she has been able to use her teaching and organizational skills while traveling the world over—dispelling myths about the distressed property market, engaging and motivating real estate agents, and sharing her passion for real estate. When she isn’t speaking or writing, Melissa enjoys practicing yoga, walking the dog, and vacationing at beach resorts.

Business News

Office Depot still open to buyers – just not you, Staples

(BUSINESS NEWS) This isn’t the first time the office giants have tried to combine, but Office Depot has some particular conditions if Staples wants to acquire them.

Published

on

Balding man in glasses at a whiteboard, using supplies from Office Depot.

In Staples’ third attempt to take over Office Depot, its acquisition offer was rejected by the ODP Corporation, Office Depot’s parent company. On January 11, Staples sent a letter to Office Depot’s board of directors offering to buy “100% of the issued and outstanding common stock” from its office-supply rival. At $40 per share, the deal to acquire Office Depot is over $2 billion.

“Staples believes that its all-cash transaction is a compelling value proposition for ODP’s stockholders that offers a high degree of certainty and is superior to the intrinsic, standalone value of ODP,” wrote Stefan Kaluzny, on behalf of the Board of Directors of USR Parent, Inc (Staples).

In response to Staples’ offer, the ODP corporation issued its own letter. “The Board has unanimously concluded that there is a more compelling path forward to create value for ODP and its shareholders than the potential transaction described in your proposal,” wrote ODP Chairman Joseph Vassalluzzo.

Although Office Depot refused Staples’ proposal, the company said it’s willing to make other alternative deals. “We are open to combining our retail and consumer-facing e-commerce operations with Staples under the right set of circumstances and on mutually acceptable terms,” wrote Vassalluzzo.

In the letter, Office Depot said it is willing to consider a joint venture where both companies “would equally share the risks and benefits.” The company would also consider a partial-sale of its retail and consumer-facing e-commerce operations.

If Staples is willing to come to either of those agreements, they will still require regulatory approval. But, Office Depot says their options offer a less “regulatory risk” by pursuing a retail-only transaction. And, will “help maintain competitiveness against nontraditional retailers and optimize ongoing choices for consumers.”

In 1997 and 2016, the Federal Trade Commission blocked the two companies from merging. Who’s to say it won’t happen again, even with the changes Office Depot is telling Staples to make in its offer.

“What we do not plan to do, however, is engage in a transaction that, as history has shown, would likely result in a prolonged and expensive regulatory review process with no guarantee of success, without a commitment that Staples is willing to bear this risk through a customary “hell or high water” provision,” wrote Vassaluzzo.

Until Staples is willing to come to an agreement with Office Depot that doesn’t include a full takeover, ODP’s answer is a firm “no”.

Continue Reading

Business News

Big retailers are opting for refunds instead of returns

(BUSINESS NEWS) Due to increased shipping costs, big companies like Amazon and Walmart are opting to give out a refund rather than accepting small items returned.

Published

on

Package delivery people holding deliveries. Refund instead of returns are common now.

The holidays are over, and now some people are ready to return an item that didn’t quite work out or wasn’t on their Christmas list. Whatever the reason, some retailers are giving customers a refund and letting them keep the product, too.

When Vancouver, Washington resident, Lorie Anderson, tried returning makeup from Target and batteries from Walmart she had purchased online, the retailers told her she could keep or donate the products. “They were inexpensive, and it wouldn’t make much financial sense to return them by mail,” said Ms. Anderson, 38. “It’s a hassle to pack up the box and drop it at the post office or UPS. This was one less thing I had to worry about.”

Amazon.com Inc., Walmart Inc., and other companies are changing the way they handle returns this year, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The companies are using artificial intelligence (AI) to weigh the costs of processing physical returns versus just issuing a refund and having customers keep the item.

For instance, if it costs more to ship an inexpensive or larger item than it is to refund the purchase price, companies are giving customers a refund and telling them to keep the products also. Due to an increase in online shopping, it makes sense for companies to change how they manage returns.

Locus Robotics chief executive Rick Faulk told the Journal that the biggest expense when it comes to processing returns is shipping costs. “Returning to a store is significantly cheaper because the retailer can save the freight, which can run 15% to 20% of the cost,” Faulk said.

But, returning products to physical stores isn’t something a lot of people are wanting to do. According to the return processing firm Narvar, online returns increased by 70% in 2020. With people still hunkered down because of the pandemic, changing how to handle returns is a good thing for companies to consider to reduce shipping expenses.

While it might be nice to keep the makeup or batteries for free, don’t expect to return that new PS5 and get to keep it for free, too. According to WSJ, a Walmart spokesperson said the company lets someone keep a refunded item only if the company doesn’t plan on reselling it. And, besides taking the economic costs into consideration, the companies look at the customer’s purchase history as well.

Continue Reading

Business News

Google workers have formed company’s first labor union

(BUSINESS NEWS) A number of Google employees have agreed to commit 1% of their salary to labor union dues to support employee activism and fight workplace discrimination.

Published

on

Google complex with human sized chessboard, where a labor union has been formed.

On Monday morning, Google workers announced that they have formed a union with the support of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the largest communications and media labor union in the U.S.

The new union, Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) was organized in secret for about a year and formed to support employee activism, and fight discrimination and unfairness in the workplace.

“From fighting the ‘real names’ policy, to opposing Project Maven, to protesting the egregious, multi-million dollar payouts that have been given to executives who’ve committed sexual harassment, we’ve seen first-hand that Alphabet responds when we act collectively. Our new union provides a sustainable structure to ensure that our shared values as Alphabet employees are respected even after the headlines fade,” stated Program Manager Nicki Anselmo in a press release.

AWU is the first union in the company’s history, and it is open to all employees and contractors at any Alphabet company in the United States and Canada. The cost of membership is 1% of an employee’s total compensation, and the money collected will be used to fund the union organization.

In a response to the announcement, Google’s Director of People Operations, Kara Silverstein, said, “We’ve always worked hard to create a supportive and rewarding workplace for our workforce. Of course, our employees have protected labor rights that we support. But as we’ve always done, we’ll continue engaging directly with all our employees.”

Unlike other labor unions, the AWU is considered a “Minority Union”. This means it doesn’t need formal recognition from the National Labor Relations Board. However, it also means Alphabet can’t be forced to meet the union’s demands until a majority of employees support it.

So far, the number of members in the union represents a very small portion of Google’s workforce, but it’s growing every day. When the news of the union was first announced on Monday, roughly 230 employees made up the union. Less than 24 hours later, there were 400 employees in the union, and now that number jumped to over 500 employees.

Unions among Silicon Valley’s tech giants are rare, but labor activism is slowly picking up speed, especially with more workers speaking out and organizing.

“The Alphabet Workers Union will be the structure that ensures Google workers can actively push for real changes at the company, from the kinds of contracts Google accepts to employee classification to wage and compensation issues. All issues relevant to Google as a workplace will be the purview of the union and its members,” stated the AWU in a press release.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Our Great Partners

The
American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!