For this year’s spring break, I took my family skiing back home in Utah.  For those of you not into skiing, the logistics involved with moving two adults and three boys along with their skis, poles, boots, helmets, etc., is akin to organizing the Normandy invasion, but with puffy coats.

Knowing how crowded it would be, I got on the resort’s website weeks before to enroll my boys in ski school, and even then there were just a few slots remaining.  Fortunately, I got them registered, so needless to say I was more than a little concerned when we went to check in and the employee behind the desk said, “I am sorry, but there appears to be a problem with your reservation.” Knowing I had made the reservations personally, I quickly pulled up the email confirmation to show the details of my reservations.

Well, it turned out there was a problem…I had made a mistake and entered the wrong dates, so not only weren’t my kids signed up, but their policy was to charge a no show/cancellation fee of $150.  I stood there, watching the melting snow forming a puddle around my feet, and prepared for a speech about their “policy” and other bad news that I was certain I was going to hear.  Knowing I had created this situation, I was prepared for the worst.  Then I watched as this young lady tapped on her keyboard, made a few calls, talked to a few other employees and worked to solve an issue that she didn’t create.  She then looked up and said, “You are all set, Mr. Marshall. I hope your kids enjoy their lessons.”  Needless to say, I thanked her repeatedly. And here is the amazing part….I did not have to complain, plead my case, demand better customer service, speak to a manager, send any tweets or use any of the tactics that frustrated customers sometimes use. She was empowered to make some fast decisions and use some “good ol’ common sense” to do what she felt was right.

Now, in truth, it didn’t cost the resort very much to squeeze our kids into the class, but it did require one willing employee to get involved and to use her judgment on how far to go to solve a customer’s problem.  In this case, she invested 10 minutes of time and sacrificed the $150 in cancellation fees, but the resort gained a happy customer that was very impressed with the customer friendly approach that this employee demonstrated.

How often do we face similar situations when a customer issue, created by the homebuyer or not, could be resolved with the investment of little time and maybe a few common-sense dollars.  Every situation will be different, but it can be empowering when our default position is “yes, I want to figure out a way to solve our buyer’s problems.”  Maybe we can’t solve every one or maybe the cost of satisfaction is just too high, but I would wager there are workable solutions for most of the customer issues we face in a given day.

Have you experienced great customer service and what can we learn from it to apply to our business? Do you see any roadblocks that prevent us from consistently delivering this type of service to our homebuyers?

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