Tag: customerservice

The Truth Behind a Review

In some industries, customer service isn’t nearly as big a deal as it is in others.  For example, when I roll my garbage can out to the curb the night before trash day, I really have no other expectation than the woman or man driving the truck the next day will extend out the big mechanical arm, grab my garbage can, empty it into the gaping maw in the back of the truck, and return the can in the same spot (or within a reasonable distance of the same spot) for me to retrieve and put it back behind my fence later in the day.  The only other expectation I have is that someone in a similarly equipped truck will come back the next week and repeat the process.  End of story.

In the mortgage and real estate world, customer service is a HUGE deal, of course, and a lot of the reason is we’re guiding a person or group of persons through a process that takes more than a day or two.  On top of that, no transaction is exactly like another one, so we’re constantly “on call” to face whatever curve ball the underwriter throws at us or overcome whatever roadblock an unwitting buyer (or seller) throws up in our path.  But you knew all that, right?

Whenever I see someone post a review from a client on Instagram or Facebook, I laugh a little to myself.  The source of my subtle mirth doesn’t stem from the typeface they chose (while I would strongly recommend against Comic Sans) or the format in which they created the post but from the fact 99.9% of the people leaving these glowing reviews (because who’s going to post a bad review) only know about 10% of what went on to produce such a positive result.  It’s the iceberg phenomenon: 10% is what you see, 90% remains below the surface and invisible to the casual observer.  And that’s the way it should be!

I’m reminded of a transaction I did last year that looked like the most generic real estate purchase you could ever find.  It closed in 30 days, and both the listing agent and the buyer’s agent walked away very pleased with the whole thing.  I can’t speak for the seller, but I know the buyer was ecstatic over how easy it seemed.  That’s the 10% everyone else saw.

However, during that 30 days, all sorts of nasty stuff was flung at us, figuratively speaking.  Had we called all parties involved with our hair on fire each time another negative thing occurred, we would have caused a great deal of unnecessary panic.  This is where TRUE customer service plays out: behind the scenes that no one knows about.  That’s not being sneaky.  That’s being smart.  And in those moments when we did need to bring a problem to everyone’s attention, we already had a solution or group of solutions in place.

So, the next time you read a rave review about a real estate agent or a lender, ask yourself what she or he kept back from the customer to ensure that positive experience.  What’s NOT said is going to tell a much more interesting and compelling story!

Staying Sane in Customer Service


If you ever have the choice of going to the Post Office or walking on broken glass, the latter may be more painful, but you’ll get the experience over with a lot faster with less mental anguish. But that’s just me.

It fell to me this past week to go to the Post Office to mail a package.  I won’t go into the boring details as to why we didn’t just use one of the other courier services, but suffice it to say they really weren’t options.  As I was standing there getting helped by one of the clerks, I was witness to a very strange vignette.  A woman, whom I’ll call Helen, walked up to the stall next to me and prepared to hand the clerk opposite her, whom I’ll call Sam, a package enclosed in one of their specialty envelopes.  Sensing the patron most likely wasn’t aware of what she had in her hand, the clerk just reminded her that she was using an overnight-delivery envelope, which carried with it a MUCH more expensive charge than a standard-delivery envelope.

The patron was a bit befuddled.  After pausing a moment to collect herself, she told the clerk that there weren’t any standard-delivery envelopes in the lobby area. While it’s very possible that the folks at the Post Office had forgotten to stock the shelves properly with the envelope Helen was seeking, I could tell by looking at Sam that he knew they weren’t out of stock – I think he was looking right at them. And then this happened:

Sam:  “Yes, there are.”

Helen:  “No, there aren’t.”

Sam:  “Yes, there are.”

Helen:  “No, there aren’t.”

Sam:  “Yes, there are.”

Helen:  “No, there aren’t.”

For the sake of brevity, I’ll end the dialogue here, but it went on far longer than any sane human being should have allowed until Helen finally found the over-abundant stock of standard-delivery envelopes.  I was getting ready to beat both Sam and Helen over the head, stuff them in the box I was mailing out of the country, and willingly pay whatever amount it would take to get them as far away from me as possible.

No matter how we dress it up with fancy titles and catch phrases, we’re in the customer service business just like Sam at the Post Office.  We deal with people every day who insist they know what they’re talking about (but who are DEAD wrong), so we have a choice: do we let this turn us into passive-aggressive drones because we know we’re right or do we choose to be helpful?

It’s possible that the US Postal Service hired Sam BECAUSE of his ability to engage with customers without being helpful, but something tells me Sam didn’t start out this way.  He could have easily locked eyes with Helen so she would stop insisting on something that was wrong, smiled at her, and helpfully pointed her to the standard-delivery envelopes.  It would have taken far less energy to do than the verbal tug-of-war I witnessed.

How often have we received an email or a text message from a client that was just plain wrong?  And how often have we insisted on sending back an electronic reply rather than picking up the phone and calling because we KNEW we were right but didn’t want to have to talk to them?  More often than not, we tell ourselves we do it because we want to avoid confrontation.  In reality, though, telling someone they’re wrong doesn’t have to be confrontational, and it may save your sanity regardless of how much the client drives you crazy!

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