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Stop the Finger Pointing and Just Fix It. Yes, Now…

Somebody Screwed Up..

Last week I wrote about talking at your clients rather than with them. Listening to them and being engaged in the conversation is important. Just as important are the words you choose, and how you respond. I can’t tell you how many phone conversations I’ve overheard between agents and clients that made me cringe. The point was driven home for me yesterday when I was on the receiving end of a bad customer service experience.

But It Wasn’t My Fault!

Without going into details about which company just lost my account… a problem arose, and I called for help. It was a situation in which a supervisor needed to step in on my behalf to make it right. After a series of missteps by other employees of his firm, the reaction of the supervisor was to try to find out WHO had dropped the ball (and was adamant that it wasn’t him!) rather than try to fix the problem. At that point, I didn’t care whose fault it was, I just wanted the situation rectified, quickly. All that he was hearing, though, was that I was upset, and he didn’t want to be blamed.

Just Fix It, Okay?

He wasn’t hearing me. It took me interrupting to say, “Can you do (this) to fix it?” before he gave a solution any thought. Why did I have to refocus him on the task at hand? How many times, working with our clients, are we more worried about making sure that we haven’t been the cause of the problem, rather than focusing on being part of the solution? Fixing the problem is what the client wants, and in many cases that diffuses the anger that the situation has occured at all. Just starting with a “how can I help?” is a fantastic beginning to most of these conversations: now you know exactly what your client wants. Go do your best to make it happen.

I can promise you the next time a client calls me and has a problem, I’m going to do everything in my power to fix it, or find out how to help them fix it, before I even think about why the problem happened. Certainly, if it was something preventable, I can look at that later and try to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But I’ll make sure my client is happy first.

image via: flickr

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Written By

Heather is a Realtor with Century 21 Redwood Realty in Ashburn, Virginia. She's also the 2008 VARBuzz Blog Brawl Champion, mom to four fantastic kids, and the wife of a golf professional. If she had free time, she'd probably read a good book or play golf. You can find her on twitter, @hthrflynn, or writing on her blog,



  1. Karen Highland

    October 30, 2008 at 8:52 am

    When you have the opposite experience, and you are served well by a superior, (which is admittedly rare) it sticks in your mind like a shiny coin. I had such an experience at, of all places…the DMV. The manager gave me personal attention and solved my issue in 5 minutes! I know…shock and awe was my response too. I now think fondly of the Department of Motor Vehicles, who would have thought?!

    We can inspire warm thoughts in others not when we ‘never make mistakes’, but when we own them and handle them well, redeeming them with outstanding service.

  2. Mark A.

    October 30, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Overheard at a “lost baggage counter” of an airline at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, a while ago:

    Upset passenger: How could you guys have lost my suitcase. I need everything that’s in there, right now.

    Clerk: (very calmly) Ma’am, we’re doing everything in our power to find your suitcase.

    Passenger is now getting angrier by the minute, on the verge of name-calling…

    Clerk: (still very poised) Ma’am, right now, there are only two people in this world that are concerned about your lost suitcase. One of them is losing interest fast…

  3. Ozarksagent

    October 30, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    I think we have been hearing too many polical speeches, we are just like that character on TV, something is wrong and we just want them to “FIX IT!” Too funny!

  4. Missy Caulk

    October 30, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    Heather, asking them what you can do to fix it? Now that is a novelty.

  5. Paula Henry

    November 1, 2008 at 8:34 am

    The buck stops here! It doesn’t matter who os to blame, working together to find a solution is the only answer.

  6. Brett

    December 15, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    Run the numbers…
    If we have between 9 and 11 million homes expected to foreclose why not do what really needs to be done. If the current resident qualifies for the loan why not re-do the mortgage to reflect current values. There’s where the bailout money comes in, to cover the difference. Most of the millions to foreclose are people that could but are not going to make payments on a home they will probably never have equity. Like I said, run the numbers and it makes sense to me. Lots of people will be upset but it needs to be done.

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