Enter your email address for weekly access to top multifamily blogs!

Rommel Anacan

Welcome to my blog on MFI! This blog allows me to have an ongoing conversation with multifamily professionals like you. My focus is on helping you and your companies succeed by helping you optimize the quality of your relationships. If you'd like more information about me, my company and the ways that I can help you, please visit my website at www.RelationshipDifference.com

Ask yourself this BEFORE responding to an angry customer!

Ask yourself this BEFORE responding to an angry customer!

As many of you know from 2005-2006 I was the customer care manager for a large regional property management company in California. My main role was to connect with residents who were not satisfied with their experience with us and try to make them satisfied again. In a year’s time I had about 3,000 contacts with residents over the phone, via email, feedback cards or letters.

My friends thought I was crazy to take the job, seeing as I had to interact with angry residents all the time. And while there were a few times (okay, maybe more than a few) when I thought my friends were right and I was crazy, I have to tell you that dealing with residents wasn’t the only difficult part of the job! And sometimes it wasn’t even the most difficult part of the job!

Allow me to explain.

Once I finished speaking with a customer about their negative experience I then needed to contact the onsite team (typically the manager) to get their take on the situation and see if I could find a “win-win” solution to the problem. I found that many of the onsite teams were not receptive to finding “win-win” solutions, especially if they felt that their customers were wrong (or lying, or signed the document, or is gaming the system, etc.), so they would often say “NO” even after repeated attempts to get them to change their mind.

Then I’d let the customers know that the managers wouldn’t change their minds, to which the customer often said I want to contact their manager, so the issue would be escalated “upstairs” and I would involve a regional manager, or sometimes vice president, into the situation. To be honest by the time it reached the “second floor” the response would be to give customers what they wanted, or offer a compromise situation, because the leaders didn’t want to get bogged down for hours on an issue involving $20.00. Of course, this would often infuriate the manager who felt that corporate was undermining their authority, yada, yada, yada.

Eventually I got good at asking the onsite managers one question; and when I returned onsite as a manager I remembered this question and I would ask it of myself when dealing with an angry resident…

Is it worth it??

When you’re dealing with an angry customer I’d recommend you ask the same question when you find yourself digging in your heels and saying “NO” to their requests. Is this fight really worth it? Is this issue worth spending hours on? Is this request for one day rent credit worth the aggravation of this complaint being escalated to corporate and getting everyone in my leadership involved? Is it worth it for me to alienate a customer over a $5.00 paper towel holder in the kitchen?

I know some of you are thinking, “Well, what about Fair Housing??” Yes, you do need to take Fair Housing into consideration when making decisions. I recommend you contact your company’s fair housing authority on guidance on matters. But let me say this, in my personal opinion Fair Housing was never intended to be a reason to provide poor customer service or no customer service!  

And yes, some issues are worth the aggravation. There are some issues that you're going to have to stand your ground on. I know. I get it. And no, I am not saying that you should say “yes” to everything your customer requests!

What I AM saying-is that before you say “no” for the first time or the fifth time; before you start to dig in your heels as your customer does the same-take a moment to pause and ask yourself, “Is this worth it??”

 

Rate this blog entry:
2
 
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Great article Rommel! Totally agree with you 100% and even more. Thanks for sharing.

  Vida Lara
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Thanks for reading and commenting!!

  Rommel Anacan
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

WIN WIN! Great article and make very good sense. It also allows for good retention.

  Cheryl Washington
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Thank you for reading!!

  Rommel Anacan
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Rommel,
How did you know the resident was unsatisfied? Did the customer fill out a survey or form that reached past the onsite team straight to the person in your position? It's a great article!

  Mindy Sharp
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Hi Mindy! That company was very open that there was a customer care department that residents could contact if they were unsatisfied with their experience. When I received a phone call from a resident one of the first questions (depending on the situation) I'd ask was if they had spoken to the onsite manager before calling "corporate." If they didn't I would encourage them to connect with the management team first. Sometimes I'd have the manager contact the resident, depending on what the resident wanted. So by the time I got into the details of the situation, I knew they were unhappy! They could also contact us through website, email, comment cards and letters, and I'd respond to those accordingly too.

  Rommel Anacan
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

If residents see that the attitude is "is it worth it," wouldnt they abuse this power?
i would like to know what the right balance is here....

  F. Gold
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Thanks for reading and asking your question! First of all YES, you may have residents and customers that look to abuse and take advantage of your willingness to go the extra mile! So, the question "Is it worth it" hinges on, how much is your time worth? Is it worth losing a resident over this issue? Is it worth the bad ratings and review? Are you spending five hours of your time on a $5.00 issue? And as I mention in the article, some issues ARE worth it. There are times when you will have to enforce a hard boundary and face the backlash. How did I learn the balance? Experience! I can tell you that in 16 years of being in this industry, onsite and corporate, and now as a speaker and consultant, asking that question before choosing to respond has been invaluable! I use that same question enemy marriage today! (= And remember what you do may not have anything to do with giving them more money, or waiving a fee, or installing new appliances, it may just be patiently listening for an extra 5 minutes while they vent, or saying "I'm sorry" instead of pointing the finger at them. While I had definitely had residents that tried to game the system, the vast majority of them didn't...and were happy that I was willing to help.

  Rommel Anacan
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

What would you say to a company who NEVER backs down, who always backs their on-site managers, even to the point that their managers are emotionally and verbally abusing the customer? But because the customers are elderly, on section 8 and are afraid of standing up for themselves the managers are getting away with it.

  Judy Calton
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Hi Judy-thank you for the question. Do you work for a company like this? Or are you a resident a a community where the managers are acting like this? If you'd like to connect about it offline, you can always email me at rommel AT rommelanacan.com.

  Rommel Anacan

Comment Below

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location
Automation has become a hot topic within multifamily. As its functionality has proven to be an asset to modern leasing strategies, its use is only going to ramp up. After all, automation technology simplifies and maximizes the leasing process for both customers and onsite teams. It has not only enhanced, but future-proofed apartment leasing and is now a key integration within CRMs. As more and more consumers have been making big-ticket purchases online, like new cars and homes, virtual content a...
  What I look for in top leasing talent.   Most blog posts about the characteristics of the effective leasing professional would start with words like positive attitude, goal oriented, relationship driven, and committed to service. You would add qualities like professional in image and self-motivated; someone who loves people. The usual stuff we have heard forever!   These are all admiral traits and ones we would love to see in all the onsite team. Right?&...
It seems that technology is evolving minute by minute, and the multifamily industry has a front-row seat to these ever-changing advancements.  This rapid acceleration of technology has brought about a wealth of innovative new tools and solutions – from resident referral platforms and text message marketing to AI and automation – that operators are utilizing to improve the customer experience. With apartment leasing and living becoming more tech-driven and digital-centric than ever before, o...