Great customer service sometimes means making the customer angry.

I had a very interesting conversation this morning, and now that I have cooled off a little bit, I have some things to say about it.

The words “But that’s your JOB!” and “A HARD WORKING agent would…” were thrown around and things got pretty ugly. Allow me to back up a little and fill you in on what happened and why.

Last night I received an email from another agent. She told me she had some renters who wanted to look at about 5 homes but she had something else come up that she had to deal with so she couldn’t show them. She didn’t really say where they were looking, and I now know that I should have asked. She told me she would email me the list of homes. Even though I was on my way into a restaurant with my family, I immediately called the customer to talk to her and let her know that I would be helping her with her home search. We agreed that we would get started at around 1 the next day (today) and that when I got the list of homes, I would start getting them scheduled.

This morning I sent the boys off to school and started my day. I opened up the list of homes to start planning our showings and get them scheduled. Then I noticed that they were literally ALL over the map. From a far South Eastern suburb to downtown, to a far Western town to homes on the far North West side… did I mention the word FAR? Houston is HUGE, it would literally take hours just to drive from the first to the last home.

I was a bit worried, so I let the agent who referred me know, and she suggested that I schedule the homes on my side of town and go from there. I thought that sounded reasonable but when I tried, I found that neither of the 2 homes in my market area were available to see for reasons completely out of my control.

Then came the toughest part. I had to call the renters and let them know that I would not be able to show them the homes they wanted to see. Unless they were old enough to look at the home in the age-restricted community I had nothing to show them! I really hate to let people down, but I had no choice, so I swallowed hard and picked up the phone.

What I encountered then was a tired and frustrated customer who thought that it is my job to drive anywhere to show any homes they want to see. I understand her frustration, but I steadfastly refused to show her homes outside of my market area. Not because of the price of gas, not because of the commission given on rental properties, not because I didn’t have time, not because I would rather take a nap….

      Because it was NOT in her best interest. 

You see, a great REALTOR® is not just a key to open the door of a property (and it’s actually kind of insulting when you insinuate that). I need to actually know the areas where I am showing homes so that I can truly help my clients make the best decisions about where they want to live.

What if we found a great home that ends up flooding every other year? What if there is a well-hidden landfill that makes the whole town stink every time it rains? What if there are plans to build a major highway at the front door of the gorgeous and incredibly well-priced listing you love? I would have no knowledge of those things because it is not in my area.

I could have been selfish and took the job and just let them rent whatever with no thought to the consequences, but I didn’t. I did what was truly best for the customer and referred her to an available agent in the area she most wanted to look in today, and I wish her nothing but the best in her home search.

The moral of the story? If you would like to look at houses, ANYWHERE, call me and if I can’t show them to you, I will refer you to a great agent who knows the area you want to be in.


3 thoughts on “Great customer service sometimes means making the customer angry.

  1. laura says:

    it’s hard to say “no” sometimes, but you did the right thing IMO. communicating quickly, honestly & upfront is the best policy always.


  2. Laura Wormald says:

    You REALLY did the right thing, Michelle. And you clearly did it with professionalism and grace. I hate to be this way, but there is personal liability flapping in the wind if you put someone in an area that is undesirable to them without letting them know things about the area that might be old news to the Agents that work that area. I know you would burn your gas and gladly give your time to do, not just a good, but the best job possible. That’s your personal driving force. Part of being that level of professional is being big enough to admit when you might not be the best person for the job AND giving the opportunity to another professional. That will come back to you tenfold because you’re truly helping another agent and, most importantly, the customer. You’re a true professional.


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