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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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  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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Business Marketing

“House has spark” – burning up the MLS with typos and other bloopers



The year is starting a march toward its natural ending, friends…and it seems a few real estate careers may be also. This week I found some real head-scratchers in local real estate ads and the MLS.  However, I get submissions from all over the U.S., so no one is safe from the eyes of  the Blooper Scooper. Check out these blunders:

Do You Smell Smoke?

“House has spark” (Apparently your real estate career isn’t the only thing going up in smoke.)

“Big pep area in kitchen” (Is that the cookie jar where Mommy Dearest stashes her uppers?) 

“Dull Viking ovens” (Methinks there’s something in the cookie jar that will perk up those dull Vikings.)

“Large greenhose in back” (Large, naked Jolly Green Giant in yard.)

“Mush added to this house” (Was that the overflow from between your ears?)

I Think I See Flames

“Beautifully remolded guest” (Another cosmetically-altered Barbie hits the Hollywood party circuit.)

“Enjoy a drink poolslide” ( Hell, if the pool is sliding, I’ll need a whole pint of Jack.)

“Each bedroom has own bedrooom” (Hello-o-o, Alice, how are things down there in the rabbit hole?)

“Separate pod to build GH” (That should please my pea-sized buyers.)

“Play room for the kiss” (Something tells me this is the back seat of a ’67 Chevy.)

Still Smoldering…

“Ideal for gusts” (That’s great…if you want to live in a wind sock.)

“Impaccably detailed” (Incredibly challenged)

“Stylish pewder room” (Try burning a match.)

“Stone pillars flake driveway” (Flakey agent got stoned in driveway.)

Nothing But Embers (This Week’s Fave):

“From a bygone error” (You have just written your own epitaph.)



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Business Marketing

“New bd pans inc” – Making a Splash on the MLS



I have two things to say this week: 1. When you drink, you can’t think. 2. When you drink you can’t- … uh, what was I saying? Oh, yes – the MLS.  It was so full of bloopers this week that I am led to conclude that happy hour started Monday and never stopped. Read these and tell me if it is any wonder I was driven to throw back a few martinis myself:

Booze ‘N’ Fools

“Free membership to gin inc” (It seems someone else beat us to it, Martini Mary.)

“Grab now use imagination” (That’s what Arnold said to his housekeeper.)

“House has new edition” (Agent lacks erudition.)

“Babblying broke runs in back” (Bumbling buffoon runs amuck.)

“Drop by for cocktail ho” (Oh, is the Sunset Strip for sale?)

Puff ‘N’ Stuff

“Near Sacramento airpot” (I believe his name is Jerry Brown.)

“Claw me for selling” (I’m too busy clawing my eyes out over your spelling.)

“Reduction on mid-century ner Holywod” (Another mid-sixties porn star is looking for work.)

“We can sake your home” (Can I get fried rice with my sake?)

Proof or Goof

“Nice streem” (Said Grandma to Grandpa after his diaper  exploded.)

“Nice for dog kids” (Uh, they’re called ‘puppies,” pal.)

“New bd pans included” (Thank you, Nurse Nancy – can you warm those first?)

“Good stable in neighborhood.” (Have you contacted Mary and Joseph?)

“Drawing for plasma” (Is this a blood-bank?)

And This Week’s Winner Is:

“Good school in areola” (Thanks for keeping me abreast of things.)


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My secret office organization tip – Sharpies and tape

If you’re still practicing to be OCD, here is a secret I don’t typically share with anyone, but I’m willing to share with you today…



Keeping organized

I used to be obsessed with the P-touch machine. I labeled everything. Drawers, shelves, folders, canisters, and anything that I could think of putting a label on.

But the label makers weren’t as pretty as my own handwriting and didn’t come in every color a Sharpie does, so I got the brilliant idea one day to write in light blue sharpie in my beautiful handwriting on clear tape, placed neatly on the shelves in the pantry. Visitors thought I had written on the cabinets, “what if you have to move things?” they asked. “It’s just tape, look!” I said as if I was performing a complicated magic trick.

Not just shelves!

It’s great to use this tip on files and folders so you can reuse them (especially if you have custom files or designer files), on drawers at the bottom of each section where pens and tape goes, and especially in the break room.

No more label maker, no more refill cartridges and no more mess, especially someone else’s mess! Trust me, this is an OCD person’s dream organizing tip!

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