Connect the Dots

Written by Posted On Wednesday, 03 June 2020 05:00

Let me tell you my newest story about customer service. Or in this case – the lack thereof.

The Comcast Crisis

It began during the holidays, with my entire family at my house. My family members are hockey fanatics. They live and breathe hockey. On this particular day, there is a very important hockey match on television and they are desperate to watch it. The problem is, the only way to watch this match at my house is if we have purchased the cable package that includes the NHL channel. Which we have not.

My husband, wonderful man that he is, disappeared for a bit. He has decided to call Comcast and see if he can special-order the NHL channel so that our family can watch the match. He reappears to tell us he has just ordered the NHL package. Everyone is thrilled! He is our hero!

However, the enthusiasm is short-lived because we quickly have problems with the connection. The picture is not clear. The sound comes and goes. The screen goes black and then comes back on. We are all frustrated fans with a hockey match to watch!

So my wonderful husband disappears again to call Comcast. He is on the phone with them for at least 30 minutes, trying to get our problem solved before the frustrated fans in my house decide to revolt.

The good news is – he gets the problem solved and everyone gets to watch the match. The family is happy.

The bad news is – the problems didn’t actually go away.

Over the course of many days, we tried to continue to watch the NHL channel. It was on, then it was not on. It was clear, then it was not clear. The sound would come and go. Finally, we decided it was not worth the hassle. We decided to discontinue the NHL channel.

At which point, I called Comcast. “Hello, this is Denise Lones. This is a simple situation – we ordered the NHL channel to be added to our cable package. However, the channel is still not working so we’d like to remove it from our package.” What I thought was a fairly simple request turned out to be a nightmare.

I first talked to Person #1. After I told her want I wanted to do, she said she had no authorization to remove the package or refund my money. But I’m persistent. If she is my customer service representative, shouldn’t she be able to help me with my simple request? This is the answer I got: “It’s above my pay grade. I cannot do that for you.”

I asked to talk to Person #2 – who perhaps could help me. That person sent me back to Person #1. I was on the phone for 1 hour and 27 minutes. At one point I talked to a supervisor – Person #3 – who couldn’t help me either. Person #1 got back on the phone to tell me she had talked to someone in the sports department who refused to help but said a ‘change-order ticket’ would be necessary. At this point, she was authorized to turn off the programming, but she couldn’t do anything about refunding my money without this ‘ticket’. Exasperated, I said, “Please. Just write up the ticket.” But get this – Person # 1 and Person #2 were so overwhelmed by the entire situation that they didn’t even know what to write. I literally had to tell them what to write on my ‘ticket’. I had to tell them how to do their job. There is something so very wrong about that.

At the end of 1 hour and 27 minutes, I was assured the channel would be removed and my refund was in process. That was 4 days ago.

I called Comcast again today because nothing has been taken care of. The person who took my call today said, “It looks like the ‘ticket’ was filled out, but it was sent back. So I’ll have to send it in again. That’s going to take some time, so bear with us.”

I have a right to be frustrated. But here’s the bigger disconnect for me. Comcast’s advertising is all about customer service. We’ll take care of you. Twenty-four hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re there for you. The Comcast ad is on my television screen every night. What I’m hearing in their ad does not match the experience I’ve just had. Really. Big. Disconnect.

Regardless of who a company is, or what product they sell, they had better back that product up, and make it right for the customer when things go awry. As a customer or client, I’d better be able to connect the dots between what they tell me and what I experience.

My disconnect with Comcast right now is so big that I have decided to take action. Not only am I canceling my Comcast cable service, but I am also canceling my entire package. Which includes internet and phone service as well. So, over one NHL cable channel problem, Comcast is now losing a 3-product customer. That’s not good business.

Why is this story important to you? Because your clients must be able to connect the dots between what you tell them, and what they experience. When you say you provide unparalleled customer service, you’d better provide it in everything you do. When you say you provide the highest level of honesty and integrity, you must do exactly that.

Here’s another way to think about it. Your clients – your buyers and sellers – have expectations. They have expectations for what they want and need from you as their agent, and they have expectations for the real estate they are buying or selling. They expect that you will listen to their needs, or help them solve their problems. If you don’t, they will move on to another agent.

Let’s say you have talked to a seller with an expired listing. This seller expressed serious concerns about the level of service they received from their first agent. You promise to offer a much higher level of service – service that you think solves all of the problems they had with their first agent. If that’s the case then you must address each of their concerns with a solution, and you must follow through.

The title of this article is Connect the Dots. That makes a whole lot of sense to me. Just like I have expectations about my Comcast service based on their advertising, your clients have expectations about you, too. I want you to carefully examine what connecting the dots means in your business, and what that means to each of your clients. If the dots aren’t connecting the way they should, I want you to figure out why they aren’t, and then determine what you need to do to make sure they connect every single time, with every single client.

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Saul Klein

In 1948, doctors told my father that his life aboard submarines on war patrol in the South Pacific and the depth charging he experienced had rendered him sterile. Although controversial and not widely applied, he was treated with an Ayurvedic therapy called “shivambu.” If you are unfamiliar with this term, I recommend you Google it because against all odds, I came to exist.

That was a loony segue into my life but is a fitting precursor to a career that would be just as incredible.

Like my father, I joined the Navy. However, due to a medical inconvenience, I was honorably discharged after 6 years of commissioned service, all on Sea Duty. This was an opportune misfortune that led me down the path to a successful career in real estate. Both my father and grandfather flirted in real estate brokering and flipping part-time, and I followed suit but making a lifelong career out of it.

With over 40 years in real estate, it is impossible to talk about my experiences in this small window. But I can proudly say that I am well-recognized as an industry pioneer, especially in real estate syndication and education, and one of the few luminaries that paved the way for real estate’s transition to the online world.

Some highlights of my life’s work:
● Co-created ePRO, technology certification course that certified 70,000 students
● Created the first online communities for real estate professionals to network, learn, and sell
● Created "Opt Out" Listing Syndication, aggregating over 1.4 Million Listings in 18 months
● Built the #2 National Listing Syndication Service, Point2 Technologies, sold to Yardi in 2010
● Founder of the California Association of Buyer’s Agents
● Member of the first Team, pre-IPO, responsible for obtaining first 500,000 listings
● Helped Zillow and Trulia build up their MLS data inventory

Today I continue to lead efforts that bring new technologies to the real estate industry. Feel free to reach out and learn more.

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