3 Tips for Responding to a Failed Customer Experience This Summer

Customer Experience


Spring has sprung, and summer is quickly approaching. It is a busy time of year when free shipping deals erupt, summer promotions explode, and retailers see a positive swing in the volume of customer interactions—online and face-to-face. Regardless of the chaos, retailers love each and every rush because they represent a huge percentage of their overall revenue. However, with a huge spike in sales also comes a big swing in the volume of customer interactions and unfortunately the inevitable failed customer experience. Summer might be yet another much-loved season for retailers but it is not necessarily an employee favorite.

As property management professionals, who provide a service to customers, we can relate to our retail sales friends. We too know how it feels to be on the receiving end of a customer complaint—sometimes deserved and sometimes not. We might even admit to personally failing a customer or two during our career. But is this where all of our empathy ends? When the tables are turned, what kind of retail customer are you?

  • Are your expectations so high that you quickly lose your patience with salespeople during your own shopping experience—forgetting they too are human?
  • Do you find it difficult to be nice to a salesperson who isn’t or patient with a salesperson who doesn’t have a clue?
  • Do you find that the words, “I would like to speak to your supervisor,” fall out of your mouth quickly?
  • Do you mentally evaluate every interaction and end every experience with a score?

Just like doctors often make the worst patients, salespeople often make the worst customers, especially property management professionals.   

The Nightmare Customer Experience

You walk into your favorite store and you are not greeted; in fact, you are practically ignored. This is disturbing when you consider you have spent a large chunk of your paycheck and waking hours in this establishment! What—they don’t remember your name? How dare they congregate around the check-out area and not take care of your needs! To make matters worse, you witness one particular salesperson clinging to another customer who is carrying a load full of merchandise. Could they be any more obvious? Clearly, they don’t care about you! They are focused on their commission!  Your experience immediately takes a nose dive and you begin to boil inside. Eventually, when you are the only breathing being remaining in the store, and practically run over them, they ask you, “Do you need any help?”  

Life is all about choices and right now you have an important one to make. Are you willing to respond ‘nicely’ to this ‘naughty’ salesperson?  Here are 3 tips for responding to a failed customer experience this summer:


Turn Your Nasty Thought into a Compliment

While your impatient internal voice is screaming rotten expletives in your head, try balancing it with thoughts of compliments and kind statements. Shower your salesperson with one or all of the following:

  • Approach the counter and begin sharing all of your great experiences with them along with your love for their product. They will get the hint.
  • Ask them if a specific staff member is working today, then proceed to tell them (brag) about the great care she took of you during your last visit. They might not know who ‘what’s her name’ is, but they will certainly step up to the plate and try to match or better that experience.
  • Compliment her on her outfit and ask if she has it in your size. Even if you don’t like it—act like you do or at least find it interesting. Engage her in conversation and find common ground. Yes, you the customer are seeking common ground. Do you want a great customer experience or not?

Instead of walking out thinking bad thoughts, smile and tell all of them thank you. These are teachable moments.


President and Owner, Ellis Partners in Mystery Shopping

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Joanna Ellis is CEO and Owner of Ellis Partners in Management Solutions (EPMS) and Co-owner of Renter’s Voice. Under her direction, Ellis has established itself as the premier apartment mystery shopping company in the nation, as well as a respected provider of multi-touch point resident surveys, as part of their retention-focused customer experience program. Current clients include most major apartment developers, management companies, and REITs. Through Renter’s Voice, Ellis helps clients promote and respond to authentic and objective apartment reviews. Having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business from Texas A&M, Ms. Ellis has spent more than 25 years in the multifamily industry, and she now holds both the Certified Apartment Manager (CAM) and Certified Apartment Property Supervisor (CAPS). She is also a licensed Texas Real Estate Agent. In honor of EPMS’ reputation for integrity, the Dallas Chapter of the Society of Financial Service Professionals awarded Joanna, on behalf of the company, the 2008 Greater Dallas Business Ethics Award for mid-size companies.

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