How to Offer Better Customer Service: A Lesson from the Landlord from Hell
Having moved many times in the past couple of years, I’ve had many landlords. Let’s start with the bad: I was living in a very nice apartment building. All brick, high ceilings, a loft area, wood floors… at first glance it was a gem. After living there for a couple of weeks, it became very similar to The Money Pit: nice on the outside, but broken at the core.
Come to find out, the appliances were the cheapest you could buy. Therefore, they would constantly break. Uncontrollable flames shooting from the broiler; 100-year-old water pooling in the loft from a leak in the roof, which then began dripping in the shower below; mice; and paper-thin walls. All of these concerns were met with, “Yeah, we’ll see what we can do. I can have someone fix it in a couple of days.” No shower or dishwasher and a mice infestation and it’s going to take a couple of days?
Thankfully, when the lease ended the experience with the new landlord was quite the opposite. Everything was taken care of quickly and thoroughly. For example, the sink head was slightly leaking. Not a major issue by any means but the next day the maintenance guy completely replaced the fixture. When I asked him why, he responded, “it was old and I thought you could use a nicer one.” It would have taken weeks, if ever, to get a leaking facet fixed at my other apartment.
What really impressed me was when I had to re-set the breakers because I knocked out the power. Not only did the maintenance guy guide me through the process (I’d never done it before) of resetting the breakers, he stopped by that night just to make sure everything was OK and answer any additional questions I might have. It was his day off.
Why such a difference in culture? When I asked the maintenance guy why he puts in the extra effort, he said, “I live here too. The reason I replaced your facet was because I would want it replaced if it were in my apartment.” Eureka! My terrible landlord lived about half an hour away–not in a unit. She was so geographically removed from her work, why would she care if water was pooling in my ceiling and I couldn’t take a shower?
Next time you develop a new product, launch a website, answer a customer’s complaint, start a new ad campaign, or whatever, don’t look at it from your perspective. Quite honestly, your customer or client don’t care. Put yourself in their shoes and see if they would like your new website or new ad campaign. Gaining a little perspective can go a long way in developing a positive customer experience.