It is great when cases go smoothly, you market and sell the house, they pay the fee, and they are delighted. You get thankyous and gifts, yet you have the minimum of interaction with the client and you may even feel you did little to deserve such appreciation.
So why is it very often the client you have bent over backwards for and done whatever they want, whenever they want always the one to complain? You take more phone calls from them, the most effort marketing and regardless they are disgruntled and unhappy with the results. Sometimes the property sells or lets and sometimes it does not. And yes, this is also very often the client with the lowest fee.
But what if the doctor backed down and allowed you to diagnose what you thought was wrong with you?
If it does not sell, they take the property elsewhere and blacken your name. You lose untold levels of business just for doing what they asked you to do. If it does sell you get the inevitable complaint letter – a most unwelcome annoyance for any business owner and very often highlighting bad service, poor results and low and behold we want a fee reduction… That negative google review is hovering in the background in both circumstances.
A common story many of you reading this will no doubt relate to and empathise with.
Going the extra mile
One client was referred to me recently and this was one area she brought up. They take customer service seriously and this branch was actually going further than any in this regard. Reviewing the case notes, one of which was now going to the ombudsman for adjudication, I was impressed with the very comprehensive file logs. It was clear the staff responded to client requests, diligently carrying out a client’s instructions to the letter – yet still got complaints.
They had bent over backwards at every stage and were also immensely proud of their hard won google reviews and these occurrences were starting to affect them. Taking things, a stage further I talked to the staff members involved. The staff that were amenable, welcoming, and friendly; it was clear that they would indeed bend over backwards to keep the clients happy.
And therein lay the problem…
When a client is looking to sell or let a property, they trust you with their largest asset. You do this every day and have a great depth of experience to draw on, specialist knowledge and colleagues to confer with. You often know exactly what to do – and we know not all methods yield the immediate results the client wants, especially if they have inevitably pushed the price up.
So why was this happening?
Imagine, if you will, someone going to the doctor. It would be normal for the doctor to complete his own examination and then having diagnosed the problem prescribe the correct medicine. Sometimes the diagnosis is not good, but he has to be strong enough to tell you and sometimes the medicine is not pleasant and won’t remove the pain straight away, but you accept that. Every one of us would be comfortable with that and would probably follow the doctor’s advice to the letter.
But what if the doctor backed down and allowed you to diagnose what you thought was wrong with you? And what if the doctor was so nice, he even let you decide on your own prognosis, course of treatment which he supplies it to you? Even better than that, he gives you the medicine at a knock-down price… can’t be bad! But it is bad.
We have this problem with overpriced houses and unrealistic expectations from clients and we can very often be in danger of becoming the doctor that prescribes a course of treatment to a client that they want, in order to keep them quiet rather than taking control. Sometimes we deal with the expectations and symptoms but not the underlying issues. It is easier to give them a placebo: ‘the portal upgrade’ or the ‘third set of new photos’ and they go away happy that they have had some medicine. Sometime this works, but it was not medicine that made you better it was just the extra marketing time.
Communicate and control
The problem occurs when the placebo effect does not work. The complaints we receive and the issues we face from clients are very often of our own creation and come down solely to two variables: communication and control. Communication is often misdiagnosed as the cause, yet in this case the communication was not the cause. The cause is that the agents were ceding control to the client.
By ensuring you assert and maintain direct and indirect control over the areas of your expertise and clearly establish the boundaries of your ‘doctor/patient’ relationship, you are then able to deliver professionally – and maintain client engagement and acceptance of your advice. When you allow the element of control to devolve to the client, you become the ‘bad doctor’.
The moral of the story – the customer is not always right.
Talk to Nathan: [email protected]