I think that I am similar to many people in that I can generally accept, even if I am not enthused with, a non-positive response to a request if it is delivered pleasantly and based on rational thought and a logical basis in fact. What I have difficulty in accepting is a negative response when apparently based on arbitrariness, whimsy or an arcane rule, issued as an absolute with little apparent concern for my position or feelings, and delivered with a bad attitude. And even when the final result is a positive response, if it takes me needless hours of begging, pleading, logical discourse or coercion to obtain (and those that know me will recognize that the first two of those are not my usual methods of choice), the finally-achieved goal brings neither great satisfaction nor a positive perception of the company with whom I was dealing.
My belief is that in any business, especially the homebuilding industry, the customer is always right. That is rule #1.
Rule #2 states “when in doubt, see rule #1”. I believe that these rules also apply to almost any other situation in life and that when dealing with friends, family, co-workers and business associates, we need to treat them just as we would treat a customer by first assuming that their position, if not always right, certainly has some merit in their own eyes.
That rule does not mean that I will always agree with everyone or that I will necessarily concede my point of view or position. But I will always try to listen to other opinions, respect other positions, recognize and understand the history, background, conditions and motivations involved and, when practical, make accommodation. When accommodation to the position of others is not practical, I will try to calmly, pleasantly and logically explain the reason behind my decision, ask if that is understood and accepted, and inquire how I may be of service in some other way.
I contacted one of my credit card companies last week to transfer a block of points that I had earned in their reward program to an airline’s frequent flyer program. The first person with whom I spoke told me that the program had been changed over two years ago and that I could not do what I wished. When I explained that I had received no notification of this change, I was informed that “everyone had received both an email and a letter”. Rather than continue what appeared to be a useless conversation, I requested transfer to a supervisor.
My conversation with the supervisor quickly became an exact duplicate of the prior discussion so I requested to speak with her supervisor. The response was that there was no “supervisor of supervisors” on duty and that someone would have to call me back but when I started to provide my contact information for the return call, miraculously this mega supervisor appeared on the phone. To shorten what was a 40 minute conversation, the mega supervisor was quite pleasant and accommodating and the end result was that I obtained even more than what I had originally requested. But I was now quite annoyed at the time required, the process itself and the fact that if I had not pressed the issue I would have received nothing. And as a result I have effectively stopped using this company’s credit cards.
What a difference a change of attitude would have made. If the first customer service representative with whom I had spoken had actually been trained in customer service, had investigated my accounts and seen that my wife and I have 4 accounts with this company and have charged almost all of our personal and business expenses through them over the past fifteen years, perhaps the experience would have been different. First, recognition of my loyalty and business would have been appropriate; then, after an apology, an explanation that the program had changed; And, when I responded that I had not received notice of the change, another apology and a pro-active transfer to a supervisor with an explanation that she, as a representative, was not authorized to make any adjustments but hopefully the supervisor to whom I was being transferred could be of service. The end result would have been exactly the same but in this case I would have been appreciative of the recognition of me as their loyal customer and their trying to take appropriate actions and my loyalty to them would have increased appropriately.
If we examine the homebuilding industry today, all too often we see similar situations. Business is slower than we would like, we continue to have to compete with short sales and foreclosures, and profits are minimal, if existing at all. A prospective customer walks in the door and immediately asks what discounts are available Instead of welcoming the opportunity to begin negotiations for the sale; we all too often may become defensive as we have been instructed by the builder that the prices cannot be reduced (or reduced further). And with this negative attitude poisoning our presentation, the potential sale is lost.
The fact of the matter is that even if we do negotiate price, the customer is never certain that he or she has received the very best price possible and that uncertainty by itself can often lead to dissatisfaction and buyer remorse. Price is certainly an important factor in the homebuying decision but it is by no means the only factor and often is not even the most important consideration. While there certainly is a price buyer, research has shown over and over again that most homebuyers are more concerned with value, wishing to obtain the quality that they desire within the price range that they can afford and thereby yielding a value relationship approximating “1” (where quality divided by price equals value). The best way that I know to deal with pricing is to treat it as an objection and welcome that objection for that is an indication that we are dealing with a potential purchaser, not just a visitor.
And that brings us back to attitude. We all need to have a positive and caring attitude every minute of every day and that attitude must be visible to everyone with whom we come into contact. Certainly that is true for the homebuilder’s sale staff but it is equally important for every other member of the homebuilding team – the superintendent, the customer service staff, the accounting department, the subcontractors and, especially, the builder. Unless we are hermits, we are constantly interacting with other people and their perception of us is determined by the attitude that we convey, at least equally to the value of the service that we provide. But that’s just my opinion.
Please visit our company’s website at www.levitanassociates.net. to learn more about our background, qualifications and services to the homebuilding industry and how we can assist homebuilders, developers, lenders and Realtors© achieve success.
For other posts please visit http://www.residentialmarketingblog.com/
P.S. I apologize for no longer allowing comments on these posts but this site, due to its popularity, has become a magnet for spammers from around the globe. Trackbacks and pingbacks are still allowed.