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This story comes from Kasey McDonald, Director of Property Management Training Academy, who shares the key lessons she learned when responding to an email from a difficult client:
- Double-check the content and the recipients of your email before hitting the ‘send’ button.
- Ask your client the right questions, in order to overcome any difficult situations and gauge your service levels.
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Hi, I’m Kasey McDonald, director of the Property Management Training Academy and today I’d like to share my story. It was probably about seven years ago when I was running a small team.
This particular client in question that I’m going to be sharing as a part of my story today was quite needy. In fact, he micromanaged absolutely every single thing that I did. Nothing was ever good enough.
Every staff member would actually call this client by some very unfortunate names. Every time this client called our office, even the receptionist started to do this behaviour.
It was, “Oh, that (censored) on the phone today.” “You know that –hole landlord, he’s back on the phone.” Every time I would get an email, it’d be like “Gosh, this guy just needs to leave me alone,” “what a–”
This particular situation, we had an application, I’d presented it to him the night before.
His response came back to me the next morning in email and on that response it was basically, there was discrimination. It was certainly things that we could not do in the industry, however, he was very demanding in what his approach and the result that he wanted.
So as soon as I got this email, I basically went, “Oh, not again.” “Seriously could this guy please stop this?”
So everyone kind of huddled around my computer. It was like we had all these people there. All reading this email and we’re all having a laugh and a joke. We had clients come in while we’re doing this and speaking not so nice about this particular person.
The leasing consultant who had met the client had actually said, “Well, why don’t you forward me the email? “I’ll kind of add a little bit of extra touch in there “just to make the client feel a bit more comfortable “and then we can maybe get this deal across the line.”
So, I sit back down at the desk and I pressed ‘reply’, not ‘forward’.
So, in my reply it said, “Here you go, here’s the email below that the (censored) owner sent to me. Good luck with writing your response. Please write whatever you like and I’ll adapt to that.”
That email actually went to the landlord direct. Not a very good response. Immediately as I press the ‘send’ button and I’m sure that we’d been in that situation before or the people who are listening today have been in that situation…soon as I pressed ‘send’ on that email went, “Oh my God, no, what have I done? “I just pressed ‘reply’, not ‘forward’.”
So I had to pick up the phone and I called the client and immediately apologised and advised him that he was receiving this email, unfortunately had some not-so-nice language about how I really felt about him in that email.
The client received the email quite well and actually was quite receptive to the fact that I had owned the responsibility, that I picked the phone up and in fact apologised and it actually created a better working relationship moving forward because he didn’t initially realise that that’s how in fact he was speaking to us or that’s how he made me feel.
It certainly was something as a part of that exercise that I learnt along the way that we shouldn’t be talking bad about our clients with our other colleagues. It doesn’t create for a positive culture or a positive environment.
They are our clients and regardless of how they may speak to us, we need to continue to remain professional in every aspect in the way we communicate.
So I hope that you’ve all learnt from my story about making sure you use the appropriate language with your colleagues and of course in emails.
I hope you all have learnt from my massive mistake as a property manager and I can guarantee you, I’ve never made that mistake again.