Me. Me. Me.
Until I became a real estate agent, I never paid close attention to my customer service experiences. I mean, I would know if I had an exceptionally good or bad experience, but beyond a brief note of that in my head, I never paid that much attention.
After about 3 years in real estate, and countless classes and books and observations about interacting with people in a customer-service way, I started looking at how I spoke to people and listened to people in a whole new light.
I started really listening to people – not just waiting for my turn to talk.
I started trying to remember little things about people – instead of thinking about myself while they talked about themselves.
Now, 7 years into this business, I have learned to SHUT UP in a way I never thought possible. I have learned that people tend to like me NOT for what I tell them about ME, but what I let THEM tell ME about THEMSELVES.
It all came full circle last week when I was on the customer end of a major purchase. Derek and I got rid of our 4-Door Dodge Ram Gas Guzzling Monster Car Payment and went on the hunt for a 2001 Jeep Cherokee that we were going to pay cash for.
I had already been noticing my restaurant and retail experiences and making notes of WHY I was happy with service and WHY I was not happy, but this car buying experience was quite an eye-opener.
Our search started with an internet scam, which made me realize that a lot of people cannot trust what is on the internet unless they can attach a live, human being to the transaction process. In the wonderful world of real estate, blogging is good for that.
We wound up driving around to different dealerships and came across 5 different types of customer service:
- Please-Let-Me-Further-the-Bad-Reputation-that-Car-Salesmen-Have: One person followed our car from the moment we entered the lot until we parked and almost opened our door for us (of course, after we took the “long way” to customer parking). Not once did this person ask us what we wanted or why we wanted it. They just jabbering on and on about their new financing programs and how cheap the 2008 sedan would be every month. We let them go on for a few minutes before WE had to tell THEM what we were looking for and that we were not going to finance anything. Thank goodness they didn’t have what we wanted. I would have hated for that guy to have gotten a commission from our purchase.
- Hello? Anyone out there?: One dealership had a couple “interesting” Jeeps and we wanted more information on. No one was there in the lot so we headed inside. There were 2 people on the phone, so we waited for a few minutes. No one even acknowledged us, so we went back outside and walked across the street to a different dealer. Nothing there so we walked back. Finally, we got a guy to talk to us. His first words were, “I can’t talk to you. You went across the street. I SAW you.” I am sure he was joking, but I had to tell him that MAYBE if someone was HERE to answer our questions, we would have stayed? They said that they had a Jeep we wanted at their other location but 6 other people wanted it. Lies AND scare tactics. Blech.
- You are not important and I will NOT get off my phone while showing you cars: I am too busy and too important for you.
- I am not really listening to you: This guy told us his whole life story and I could barely get a word in edgewise to ask important questions about my big purchase.
Ultimately, I become OH SO aware of how consumers are thinking …
- This is about ME and how I am going to spend MY money on something that is going to be a MAJOR part of MY life.
- I do not care about YOU. I just care about how YOU can help ME make the best decision in the quickest amount of time possible.
- I want to feel/think that I am actually important to you.
- I want YOU to KNOW and understand MY wants and needs.
- I want you to make comments and actions based off of wants and needs that I have told you.
- I want you to ask me questions so I can better understand my own wants and needs better.
- I want you to be slightly intuitive and read my face and body language as well as actually LISTEN to my words.
- I want you to give me my space when it is apparent that I need to “talk it over” with my significant other.
- I am totally consumed with my possible purchase and I do not want any distractions, except for maybe a nice cold bottle of water.
- I want to be happy with my decision and my purchase.
- I want you to do what you tell me you are going to do and then, maybe, do a little bit more.
- (Jeesh. I wish I could just tell one person what I wanted and they would go find it for me.)
Customer service experience #5 was the winner.
- What can I do for you? We finally found our Jeep. Beautiful, red, 2001 Jeep Cherokee with 57k miles. We were handed the keys, to take it for a spin and offered directions to the best roads and off-roads to test it on. Here is my cell phone number please call me with any questions you have on your test drive. What do you like about it? What can we do for you to make this a purchase you will be happy with? What didn’t you like? Oh, then we will replace BOTH those speakers. You seem hesitant about the price. What do you think is fair? Okay, we can do that. What other questions do you have? Would you like some water? Let me give you 2 a few minutes to talk about it. I will be in that office over there when you are ready. May I have a few of your cards? I seem to always run into people who are looking to buy or sell a home. It was great working with you. Here is your new car. I ran it though our detail shop again. How does it look? Congratulations on your new purchase!