Customer Service … can help you stand out from the crowd.

GiraffeWe live in a world that gives customers almost limitless choice.

In every town there are often 20, 25, even 30 or more agents. And online there’s yet more competition, some of it being very inexpensive.

So how do you stand out from the crowd? How do you make yourself distinctive? What will make your business any better than the next?

One possible answer is Customer Service – measured in the eyes of the beholder – the Customer. Your goal is to make your customer truly believe that they matter, that you care.

And so, excellent customer service means doing and saying exactly the right thing at exactly the right time. In the book “Perfect Phrases for Customer Service” Robert Bacal provides a host of tools and techniques for handling any customer service situation.

There are five fundamentals, all of which seem SO obvious, yet like most “fundamentals” they can easily be forgotten.

1:     Make the Customer Feel Important

The crucial word here is FEEL. Not Know, not Think, but Feel.

There are many ways you can do this…

  • Do more than is required, go the extra mile
  • Tell them not just about everything you do for them, but also what you do for them for nothing. What do you do that you don’t charge for? Give it a name!
  • Listen – truly listen – to the customer. And summarise what they’ve said so that they feel that they’ve been heard.
  • Empower them. Give them choices.
  • Constantly ask them for feedback. Don’t just wait till the end when the deal is done. Ask them every time you have a conversation – “Are we on track here? Are we doing what you want us to do? Is there any way we can improve?”


But even then, things will occasionally go wrong. Despite your best efforts, at some point you will be faced with an unhappy customer. What do you do then? Here are a few Golden Rules, which (as ever) are very easy to Say, but – in the heat of the moment – are a little harder to actually do.

2:     Maintain Control

It’s essential to maintain control – control of both the situation and of yourself.

  • Acknowledge the facts of the problem without encouraging anger
  • If there are other people around, then get rid of the audience!
  • Set some limits on what you will allow the customer to say, especially if they’re being abusive
  • Use a matter-of-fact tone of voice

3:     Avoid Arguing

Here are 3 techniques which can help avoid situations from escalating:

  • Disengage – is it possible for you to conjure up a “time-out”, even if it’s only a few seconds?
  • Distract – can you change the customer’s focus of attention away from their anger by getting them to do something?
  • Agree – is it possible to find SOMETHING to agree about? This can be surprisingly calming, and put’s you on THEIR side.

4:     Simplify

Put yourself in THEIR shoes. Yes, you are the expert, but customers are NOT stupid! Do you always…

  • Explain things as simply as possible
  • Use plain language
  • Avoid jargon
  • Summarise to check understanding

5:      Make it Right

Even if you can’t always “get it right”, you can “make it right”. It’s a sign of real strength to be able and willing to:

  • Admit mistakes.
  • Apologise
  • Assure the customer of the efforts you’re making.
  • Thank them for their time and business.
  • And follow up


Charles Grimes is a Director of Leadership Coaching for Estate Agents, a specialist Training & Development company working closely with the NAEA.



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