Remarkable Customer Service – (Thank You Joel Spolsky)

I am in a PEOPLE business and Customer Service is KEY to not only my success as a Realtor®, but more importantly, KEY to my buyers and sellers having an excellent experience when buying and selling a home with me.

I really was trying to “work” today – no blogging until I completed my To-Do’s for the day. Well, so much for that… I glanced at my Google Homepage and caught a post by one of my favorite non-RE bloggers – Seth Godin. So, of course, all my morning plans go out the window and I follow his link to another post:

Seven Steps to Remarkable Customer Service
by Joel Spolsky of Fog Creek Software

Joel brings up 7 Spectacular Ideas (Steps) that anyone in the Customer Service Business needs to read and embrace. Go ahead… Click on the link, read it and then come back here. I’m patient; I will wait…




Ok. You back? Wasn’t that a great post? I sure thought so. Of course, not all of it can apply directly to Real Estate, but there were a few that really stood out that I would like to touch on three of them:

1. Make customers into fans. Joel tells about a wonderful experience he has with Land’s End, where they really go the extra mile to provide remarkable customer service. Why was it remarkable? Well, their customer service caused him to remark about it.

When customers have a problem and you fix it, they’re actually going to be even more satisfied than if they never had a problem in the first place.” This comes from the fact that we are conditioned to expect crappy customer service, so “crappy” has become “average.” If we, as Customer Service Providers are given the opportunity to make “good” of a situation, then we now have the potential of having a “fanatically devoted customer, one who will prattle on and on about what a great job you did.”

We, as real estate professionals, are given the opportunity to make “good” of a situation EVERY DAY. Out of all Customer Service Providers, we have one of the worst reputations out there. This is a gold mine of opportunity to exceed your customers’ expectations, by being friendly, knowledgeable and truly caring and by doing what really needs to be done to serve our clients. I have a big issue with the reputation of real estate agents. Unfortunately, I believe that our industry earned that negative reputation, so now it is our DUTY to reverse it by really providing excellent customer service and making our customers into fans.


2. Take the Blame. Yes. Do it. Stop blaming the other agent. Stop blaming the loan officer. Stop blaming the market. Stop blaming the neighbors. Stop blaming your parents. Stop blaming your kids. Stop blaming traffic. JUST STOP IT, ALREADY!

Of course you are not perfect. No one is and no one expects that anyone else is. So, pleeeeease, apologize and take the blame – even if it is only a little bit your fault. If the closing does not go as hoped for, I’m sure that there was something that you could have done or not done to make it go a bit easier? If the house does not sell, maybe there was some market research, seller counseling, marketing efforts… that you could have done a wee bit more of? If you are late, I bet you could have left early enough accommodate any unexpected traffic mishaps? I’m not saying that you should make everything ALL your fault, but own up to anything that you could have done better. People respect that, WAY more than finger pointing. It shows honesty and integrity – 2 things that are absolutely crucial in our business.


3. Practice Puppetry. People will get mad at you for whatever reason. It WILL happen, whether you “did anything wrong” or not. So, please repeat after me:

I will not take angry people personally. I will not get defensive.
I will not take angry people personally. I will not get defensive.
I will not take angry people personally. I will not get defensive.

Joel says it best: “You can never win these arguments, and if you take them personally, it’s going to be a million times worse… There is only one way to survive angry customers emotionally: you have to realize that they’re not angry at you; they’re angry at your business, and you just happen to be a convenient representative of that business.”

You are now the puppeteer of the puppet that they are mad at. They have given you that title. So run with it! You are in control of what that puppet has to do to make that customer happy. You are a rational 3rd party to this situation. Maybe say, “I’m sorry. It’s my fault.” Then all you have to do is, “Figure out what to make the puppet do that will make them happy and stop taking it so dang personally.” Even if it means that you need to refer a seller to a different agent. We have had rare situations where there is an unavoidable personality or business practice conflict that no apologies could mend. I cannot be all things to all people, and I am ok with that. In those cases, we have sat down with our clients and said, “We obviously have a situation where neither one of us are getting the results that we were hoping for. You deserve the kind of service that you are looking for, and it appears as though we are not meeting those needs. I would love to refer you to an agent that we know and trust that may fit your needs a bit better. Would you like their name and number?” The tension leaves the room and this always turns the situation into a pleasant one. We have now gained the respect of a client that wasn’t happy before. We did not take their disgruntled-ness personally and did not get defensive. Now everyone is happy.
Customer Service is an integral part of my business. It is an integral part of our lives – all of us. If we can all learn how to really provide remarkable customer service, maybe we will “raise the bar” and raise consumers’ expectations…

Thank you Joel for all of your wonderful insight.


About Mariana

I am a Mom, Wife, Real Estate Agent Trainer and Mortgage Lender. Find me at
This entry was posted in A Little Motivation, Business, Real Estate Stories. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Remarkable Customer Service – (Thank You Joel Spolsky)

  1. Pingback: Thank You Active Rain … « The ‘Springs Realty Scoop

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