Why you should embrace every bad experience.

We all love good testimonials from clients, those stories that exude all the positives we are striving for within our agency.  Although these testimonials matter, what you should also be looking out for are the bad ones, the hidden stories that you are often not aware of.

The stories that your potential clients have told their friends and family that would send a shiver down your spine.  These bad experiences and testimonials are what you should be grabbing hold of with both hands and never letting go.  As it is only from the bad ones can we learn and develop, we can set the wheels of change in motion to keep our teams driven to the aspiration of perfection.  Some of the most inspired and innovative developments in estate agency have come out of experiences you would rather forget.

But I have one word of caution; if you don’t embrace your faults your agency will never change.  It’s easy to blame the client or send them a false notion of ‘this has never happened before’, ‘we will investigate fully’, when what your message should have said is that ‘we are listening’.

The best agents are those who are consistently seeking to improve, who believe that standing still with their head in the sand, is nothing short of a way of destroying everything they have built.

I heard a story from a buyer whilst I was away on holiday which shows what can happen if you ignore or don’t learn from client experiences within your business.

Jean was looking for a new property, she had been searching online and made a list of properties she would like to view and sent a viewing request through Rightmove.  One agent came back to her virtually immediately, she was very impressed.  Later that day she received an email from another agent, the email took the format:

  • Email signature at the top
  • Dear   , (no name was stated)
  • Link to the property on Rightmove

Jean told me she was confused, not just at the presentation of the email, but why she had been sent the link to the property and no mention of the viewing, so she replied again requesting a viewing.  The agents’ email responded with “When would you like to view?”  Nothing wrong there you may think until you learn that this was the extent of the mail, no address or email signature.  Jean was stunned but replied, as this property was one of her favourites on her shortlist.

She arrived early for the viewing and was really taken with the outside of the house.  It was clear that the owners had taken care of the gardens as the array of colours bursting out of the beds and plots was incredibly beautiful, she couldn’t wait to get in.

Her appointment was for half past and as it approached she thought about contacting the agent just to make sure she had the details correct.  In the distance she could see a man walking towards the property, she dismissed him from being the agent due to his demeanor.  He was slouched, and walked with a kind of a heavy shuffle as though he had had a bad day and he wanted everyone to know it.  He approached Jean, without a word he proceeded to the door with a set of keys jangling in his hand.  “Are you from …?” Jean questioned, he nodded and proceeded to try a number of keys on the bunch with various huffs and puffs.

“The owners must have changed the lock” he muttered.  Jean couldn’t believe her ears.  “The keys we’ve been given don’t work, they must have changed the locks.”  Jean told me she looked at the lock and questioned 1 – it was not a new lock and 2 – why he hadn’t checked the keys worked knowing he had a viewing.

The agent told Jean that this had never happened before and would she like to organise another viewing.  Jean told me she was so shocked that she just said ‘no thank you’ and left.  The viewing played on her mind and she thought about those poor vendors trying to sell their home and wondering why they possibly hadn’t had any offers.  She said the experience marred the property for her and she continued her search eliminating any property on the market with that particular agent.

As it happened Jean’s situation changed soon after and her search stopped for a few months.  When she began her search again she had a surprise, the property was still on the market, but it had just gone on with another agent.  “I couldn’t believe it, I viewed the property immediately, made an offer and moved in a couple of months ago.”

Jean’s story frustrated me, especially when I researched that particular agent and saw that her experience was not uncommon.  Their Facebook page was filled with experiences similar to Jean’s and they never seemed to improve.

This agent may have upset Jean, but in doing so they lost instructions, as she told everyone about her bad experience.  Did she ever hear from the agent again, no!  No follow up call to arrange another viewing, no depersonalized 6-worded email, absolutely nothing.

Jean’s story should be a lesson to us all.  Celebrate the good experiences but concentrate on the bad.  As if this agent had worked quickly to gain Jean’s trust, they could have repaired the damage and changed her opinion of them, and not only that, they would have had a sale.

Stephen Brown

Consultant to Estate Agents with the focus of generating more revenue. Over 20 years of industry experience having been a Director of an award winning London Agency.

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