I have just had to fire our estate agent of 5 months. The really sad thing is that they just don’t get it…at all. The 90’s are gone.
There was a time when an agent – didn’t matter who – was instructed. Shortly thereafter a buyer that was able to proceed walked in and would offer the asking price. They would then be followed by another offering yet more money etc etc. To be an estate agent was fairly easy money for relatively little work.
Those days have gone. The UK housing market is at best uncertain. For any kind of salesperson that means they actually have to work at it. It transpires agent(s) we instructed are still of the housing boom mindset. Wrong.
The feedback from viewings needed to be chased down every time, my name was constantly spelt incorrectly and then I was called Daniel during the ill-fated, late & bleating “why me” phone call after the firing had happened. Newsflash – we are paying for your services. You aren’t doing me a huge favour by allowing me to have my house on with you. Get over yourselves.
The attitude is so typical of old style British “customer service” it makes my blood boil. I’ll put away my soapbox now.
Estate Agents always look a bit puzzled when they are grouped with crawling things that live in the damp and dark spaces under rocks.
On a positive note have rec’d a recommendation from a friend of an estate agent that actually appreciates the concept of working for their client. Watch this space.
Most interactions can be boiled down to what is happening between the two people involved. We’ll call the Bill & Ben for the purposes of this example.
Ben sold a faulty Thing to Bill. Bill is unhappy and calls Ben in the hope that Ben will fix the problem. So what’s going on at the basic level?
I’m no psychologist but I’ll bet that both Bill and Ben each have some sort of general aspiration to go to bed content every night. After all, no one likes tossing and turning whilst they replay the days events in their head. Do they?
So, whilst Bill rightly expects Ben to “do something” as Bill has handed over his hard earned for a faulty Thing, I think that Ben doesn’t want to be the cause of Bill’s upset. Ben also doesn’t want the chat with Bill to leave him (Ben – keep up!) feeling bad. So I believe that Bill will get more than the legal minimum out of Ben if he recognises this and tries not to leave Ben feeling bruised and battered. Ben has obligations under consumer law but any additional recompense is down to him. Bill enjoys legally mandated consumer rights thanks to the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (a). Great; we have the legal stuff taken care of.
What about the soft and fuzzy emotional stuff? Why doesn’t Bill just invoke the law, maybe even go in all lawyered up, and just stick it to Ben? I mean, Ben (probably knowingly as these filthy cheating capitalist so and so’s are all the same don’tchyaknow?) is trying to give the minimum for the maximum, right?
Maybe Bill realises that he stands to gain more from Ben if he leaves Ben feeling ok from the chat? Maybe Ben is inclined to do more for Bill if Bill treats him decently?
So next time you need to complain remember, they are also a customer of yours.
This post is me getting ahead of things and guessing the outcome of a chat I intend to have. The reason I am doing this is to show how previous interactions with a supplier can inform customer expectations of future interaction. In this instance I am the customer. Bear with me for the preamble as it sets the scene for my point.
I love to swim. For fitness and not competition but I do 5-7km per week. I – along with many others – am a regular user of the local pool. This is no longer owned by the council as a truly publicly owned and run amenity but has been sold to a third party leisure services provider. I have no idea of the exact arrangements but it does mean that I am now dealing with a private firm and not a public service. They are called Nexus.
I have come to expect a higher level of service from a private provider. When I started swimming enough to go to a direct debit, all you can eat, payment model for my swimming I had to fill out myriad forms. The most interesting was the Direct Debit form and the fact that (it is the only way to pay for this option) it attracts a £10.00 administration fee!
Get this; I am being charged for their administrative costs. This staggers me. It’s their business. Surely their business model accounts for administrative work that they need to do?
Mrs S. and I have a joint account and Mrs S already has an all you can eat swimming DD set-up. Ahh, I thought, I have a cunning idea which will be both appreciated by Nexus and save me a tenner. I’ll just ask them to increase the amount taken to cover both of us.
*Note: Direct Debit’s (DD) are a unique tool for UK banks. The company needs to be sufficiently solvent to do this. In return, when I sign a DD then the company has the power tio vary the amounts take. It is a good set-up as the consumer can cancel it with a call, the scheme is indemnified and the business can vary the amounts taken. Everyone’s a winner.
“Oooohhh no sir, we can’t do that. Far too complicated, love to help just not poss etc etc etc” What!!!!To cut a long story short I gave up raging against the machine and just paid my tenner and had Nexus set up a completely new (yet identical) DD on our account. Madness but madness mandated in the rules. After all, following the rules is far far more important than applying common sense. After all, an outbreak of common sense might lead to people thinking for themselves and we wouldn’t want that now would we?
That’s the background.
The pool in Thame can get quite busy and the water gets very choppy between lanes. If you have seen a swimming competition on telly or live you’ll notice the lane ropes that they use are many discs strung together. In short, these dampen the choppiness between lanes. In the Thame pool the most rudimentary old school lane ropes are used and they have lost most of their floats. The function of the colour changes in the lane ropes is to indicate, primarily to backstrokers, when the end of the pool is approaching. Something the old school ropes don’t do at all well. Wouldn’t it be great if our pool used the modern (relatively – 30 years old now) lane ropes? Perhaps they don’t own them. Afterall, times are tight so no one is going to be lashing out money on a set of these?
But wait, it turns out the pool has (owned by Nexus and not the local swimming club) these ropes nicely coiled away on the storage drum. “Why aren’t these being used?” I enquired of some staff and a swim coach I know. Reply; “Ah yes. They are a lot more hassle and we only use them for swimming galas.” So this means that the main revenue stream of the regular users get the rubbish old ropes whilst the nice ones are kept for a maximum of four times a year.
Great British customer service. I am not looking to make your experience better because it means more work for me.Wonderful. I feel like a really valuable customer. Thanks, Nexus.
I intend to ask the new in post manager if they could see their way to using the decent lane ropes. Based on the DD madness I reckon I’ll get fobbed off. And that’s even before I have asked the question. Just goes to show how easy it is to get a poor reputation as I am all mentally geared up for a fight which I wish doesn’t happen. Amaze me please, Mr New Manager.
No it’s not. The first post is just an attempt to bring some really simple clarity to a topic that seems – in business circles – to have a lot of smoke and mirrors applied to it. I suppose that if you make your audience blind then you can charge to clear the air. Hey, welcome to the world of average Management Consulting!
Very sadly – for me – I was lying awake at 0530h thinking about the previous post of Strategy vs Tactics. It’s not simple and I think that the other key point to make is that you can also have a sub-strategy to achieve your overall strategy. I have even heard the overall strategic objective of being “there” instead of “here” not being referred to as strategy but a goal. I think these kind of differences are semantics and tend to involve more smoke and more mirrors. Use the term you are comfortable with but understand that the tactics – individual actions – differ.
There is of course the way that you go about achieving the overall strategic objective. I would also call this a strategy. E.g.: do you batter the front door down or tiptoe around the side and look for an open window? I am not trying to teach you individual strategies here – this is the Sun Tzu stuff I referred to in the previous post – suffice it to say that most people seem to go for the batter the door down approach when there are many many more elegant and efficient ways to achieve your strategic goal. They have a problem for some in that they are inherently more intellectually demanding and less about brute force.
Ask yourself, are you smart or just massively strong?
I used to have to cover this in a course I gave for salespeople. I am not a believer in trying to dress concepts up with loads of flannel when they need to be understood first. There is room for detail when you get into it but the simple concept should be that. Simple.
Simply put; It’s a bit like going to a film. The strategy is the overall aim to go and see a film. The tactics are the step by step actions to achieve that. They can be broken down into granular detail if needs be. It could be as simple as choose a film, get in the car and go to cinema, watch film. On the other hand it could be broken down into turn PC on, use Google to search for films, read reviews, pick film that suits your free time & tastes, buy tickets, collect keys, check there is enough petrol in the car etc etc etc…
This isn’t just a pure sales plan tool but a great thing to hold in your head when planning a campaign for a variety of things. The strategy is without doubt the hardest thing to agree on. If it’s about a business relationship then you need to be in alignment and agreement with your customer first. A strategy isn’t something you can just “do” to the other party. Once they trust that you understand their business and their strategy then it’s much easier to earn credibility by showing how your strategy with them helps them achieve their strategy. After that the tactics will come easily. Some will be be joint and some will be owned by either party. Simple, isn’t it?
I fundamentally disagree with the remark in an article I read that says the following; “Strategy is the practice of figuring out the best way to get from here to there.” Noooooo, strategy is the decision that you want to be “there” and not “here”. Tactics are the things you need to do to get from “here” to “there”, achieving your strategic aim.
Sounds simpler by the second? So, it’s OK to get all Sun Tzu about it the whole thing, but ensure that you grasp the basic distinctions first.
This still makes me laugh and my daughter is not even a teenager yet. I was doing some electronic housekeeping on the PC, stumbled over this that was sent to me when our daughter was born. Although I like to believe I am progressive and liberal this strikes a chord deep inside.
If you pull into my driveway and beep you’d better be delivering a package, because you’re sure not picking anything up.
If you can’t keep your eyes or hands off of my daughter’s body, I will remove them.
I am aware that it is considered fashionable for boys of your age to wear their trousers so loosely that they appear to be falling off their hips. Please don’t take this as an insult, but you and all of your friends are complete idiots. Still, I want to be fair and open minded about this issue, so I propose this compromise: You may come to the door with your underwear showing and your trousers ten sizes too big, and I will not object.
However, in order to ensure that your clothes do not, in fact, come off during the course of your date with my daughter, I will take my electric nail gun and fasten your trousers securely in place to your waist.
I’m sure you’ve been told that in today’s world, sex without utilising a `barrier method` of some kind can kill you. Let me elaborate, when it comes to sex, I am the barrier, and I will kill you.
It is usually understood that in order for us to get to know each other, we should talk about sports, politics, and other issues of the day. Please do not do this. The only information I require from you is an indication of when you expect to have my daughter safely back at my house, and the only word I need from you on this subject is `early.`
I have no doubt you are a popular fellow, with many opportunities to date other girls. This is fine with me as long as it is okay with my daughter. Otherwise, once you have gone out with my little girl, you will continue to date no one but her until she is finished with you. If you make her cry, I will make you cry.
As you stand in my front hallway, waiting for my daughter to appear, and more than an hour goes by, do not sigh and fidget. If you want to be on time for the movie, you should not be dating. My daughter is putting on her makeup, a process that can take longer than painting the Forth Bridge. Instead of just standing there, why don’t you do something useful, like changing the oil in my car?
The following places are NOT appropriate for a date with my daughter: Places where there are beds, sofas, or anything softer than a wooden stool. Places where the ambient temperature is warm enough to induce my daughter to wear shorts, tank tops, midriff T-shirts, or anything other than overalls, a sweater, and a goose down parka-zipped up to her throat. Ice Hockey games are okay. Old folks homes are better.
Do not lie to me. I may appear to be a pot-bellied, balding, middle-aged, dim-witted has-been. But on issues relating to my daughter, I am the all-knowing, merciless god of your universe. If I ask you where you are going and with whom, you have one chance to tell me the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I have a shotgun, a shovel, and five acres behind the house. Do not trifle with me.
Be afraid. Be very afraid. It takes very little for me to mistake the sound of your car in the driveway for a chopper coming in over Now Zad. When my NBC injections start acting up the voices in my head frequently tell me to clean the guns as I wait for you to bring my daughter home. As soon as you pull into the driveway you should exit your car with both hands in plain sight. Speak the perimeter password, announce in a clear voice that you have brought my daughter home safely and early then return to your car – there is no need for you to come inside