I’ve spent the last two weeks frustratingly trying to buy a house. We didn’t get it in the end, but that wasn’t the worst part. I was frustrated because it didn’t need to be as hard as it ended up being.
Yes, the New Zealand property market is hotter than the sun right now – but who knows how long that will last? One day these companies will need loyal customers, and I won’t forget which ones treated me well.
The following four lessons from my experience trying to buy a house apply to any business – whether your industry is currently red hot or just luke warm.
Unless you’re a property tycoon, buying a house isn’t an everyday occurrence. Yet somehow I found many people I dealt with acting like I should know exactly how every complex thing works, what I need to do, and what their industry jargon meant.
The best experiences I had involved people putting themselves in my shoes, acknowledging how stressful my situation was and reminding me that they were there to help.
At times throughout the journey it felt like nobody cared whether I got the house or not, as long as they got paid. There were many times I was fobbed off from one company to another, feeling like they were too busy to help me unless I went the extra mile to make their lives easier, instead of the other way around.
I’m aware that a burning hot property market puts pressure on supporting industries – but being busy is no excuse for a bad customer experience. Setting expectations on how long things take is the first step, but communication goes beyond that. While some businesses literally sat on time-critical information for days until I chased them for an answer, others kept me updated almost daily, even when they didn’t have an answer yet.
It’s important to understand that when stressed customers don’t hear from you, they start to panic that they’ve slipped through the cracks.
At one point I spoke to three different people from the same company – with my experience going from terrible to amazing, to ‘I’m never working with you again’. After a long wait, being cut off and put back in the queue, the second person turned my experience around by going out of their way to help even though it was now after hours for them. Unfortunately for the company, the third person dropped the ball by going AWOL for several days when I needed them most.
The challenge is to have a culture where the whole team is competent and enabled to deliver service like the second person – or else you may find customers looking elsewhere.
Each one of the people I spoke to represent their brand. Some experiences were amazing – but many were well below par. It’s easy to drop the ball when things get busy – but with a little empathy and simplicity, clear expectations and a solid culture, you’re likely to have a loyal customer when you need them most.