breaking bad news
Breaking Bad News to Sacramento Real Estate Clients
Most of the time a Sacramento Realtor can bounce along with her sunny disposition always looking at the bright side of things, except when it comes time for breaking bad news to Sacramento real estate clients. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen very often. Generally, everything moves smoothly according to plan, but every so often we face disappointing news. It’s at those moments, I believe, that we Realtors are handed an opportunity to make our clients feel better, even though we’ve got to deliver news they might not want to hear.
I was reminded of this yesterday when I stopped at the Sacramento Co-Op to pick up a case of wine. The Co-Op’s customer service department made it slightly difficult to order the case. After listening to me explain what I wanted to buy, the customer service desk sent me to the Cheese and Wine desk. The Cheese and Wine desk said they were not authorized to take my order and sent the call back to the Customer Service, which then accepted my order and credit card number and promised to call when the order arrived.
All excited that my order had come in, I decided I could squeeze in a 20-minute stop at the Co-Op to pick up my order, just before an 11 AM appointment a few blocks away. Dude at Customer Service, disheveled, like he had just rolled out of bed, asked for my name. He misspelled it but people often do. I spelled it for him. Three times. He could not find my order. He called the Cheese and Wine desk. Messed around on the computer some more and then asked for my first name, and lo and behold, he discovered my order.
I watched customers check out. Kids bouncing oranges in the produce aisle. Eavesdropped on conversations. Waited through 3 ATM transactions and then decided I may as well withdraw cash, too. Cheese and Wine suddenly appeared to present a single oversized bottle of wine. Where was the case? She did not know. Cheese and Wine vanished. I waited a while longer and then realized I would be late for my appointment. When you figure this out, please call me, I said, and left. This was fairly irritating, and I’m at the point now where I don’t really care if they ever find my order.
How quickly my moods shifted during those 20 minutes, from anticipation to disappointment to irritation to a cavalier attitude.
Our real estate clients are no different. There were many things Customer Service could have done but did not. I suspect they bank on forgiving customers, capitulated by a strong desire for organic.
First and foremost to me is how my clients will feel when I am in the awful position of breaking bad news. I try to make sure they understand that if I can do anything about it, I will. Occasionally I can make them feel better by offering a partial solution to what often appears to be a dead-end street or another alternative.
The point is I try to find solutions. I apologize for the problem, even when it’s not my fault. I don’t get angry because they may want to assign blame in my direction, as that kind of response is human nature. No defensiveness. People always want to find the individual responsible for the difficult spot they might find themselves in, and I’m a buffer for that. It’s OK.
Mostly people want information when you’re breaking bad news. They want to know how and why it happened and what can be done about it. They want options. They prefer to be in the decision-making position, if at all possible, and they expect their Realtor to respect their opinions. If it’s within my power, I try to deliver that.