7 Ways to Turn Resident Scrooge into a Loyal Brand Advocate


Tis the season to be jolly, fa, la la la la, la la la la.

The holidays are in full swing and everyone is reflecting the joy and spirit the season brings!

Well, not everyone. Lurking around the corner is a real life Scrooge who is ready to pour the spirit of bah humbug upon you. Whether your Scrooge is an employee, resident, or prospect, being on the receiving end of a temper tantrum is never an enjoyable experience. As the kind-spirited participant, you want nothing more than to make him go away—and quickly. Unfortunately, your innocent attempt to pacify the Scrooge only reinforces the behavior and makes matters worse.

What you might not realize is that your mean-spirited, angry, temper tantrum throwing customer is giving you a gift this holiday season. What is it? It is the opportunity to make things right, keep the customer’s business, and even convert him into a loyal brand advocate and just maybe up your resident retention.

Being prepared for the visit, call, email, chat message, Facebook post, or tweet is half the battle. Here are seven ways to defuse Scrooge and convert him (or her) into a loyal brand advocate and satisfied customer.

1. Think of Scrooge as Tiny Tim and Listen

Yes, just close your mouth and listen. Let him blow off steam and vent. Sometimes that’s all he really needs to do. The complaint he has may not even be the real problem. It may have been the spark that created the fury. Quite often he is yelling (or typing in all caps) to you, not at you, and in the end, he wants your help. Let him convey his entire complaint before offering a reply and remember that his problem is not with you personally. Allowing him to vent without interrupting is key to initiating calm. Engaging with the customer while he in the midst of an outburst does two things:

  • It rewards an unwanted behavior by giving it attention.
  • It is likely that you will say or do something that in the mind of the tantrum-thrower justifies their rant.

And that is just the fuel the Scrooge is looking for. Don’t feed it! The art of quiet and thoughtful listening leads him to believe that what he is saying is important to you.

2. Defuse Scrooge by Asking Permission to Take Notes

If you are given the opportunity, ask permission to take notes, which will help decrease the speed and animation of the conversation. After Scrooge has voiced his frustration, repeat the issue back to him to confirm you understood what was said.

3. Empathize, Don’t Despise

Put yourself in Scrooge’s shoes. Take time to understand how he feels. Let him know that you understand his feelings. By understanding how he feels and letting him know that you understand his point of view, you rebuild the rapport critical to delivering a positive customer experience. This does not necessarily mean that you have to agree with him; it does, however, let him know that you care about and understand his point of view.

4. Make Scrooge Feel as Important as a Prince

It can be difficult to feel any desire to make a Scrooge feel important when he has been screaming at you for hours (at least it feels like that long). But when it is your turn to reply, it is important to maintain a calm, sincere, and caring tone. Your customer service skills are under the microscope at this very moment and Scrooge is evaluating how well you do or don’t deliver a positive experience under challenging circumstances.

Here are some “make him feel important” phrases:

  • I apologize for __________________________.
  • That must have been very frustrating for you.
  • I appreciate you telling me your concerns about ____________________.
  • I’m sorry you had to deal with ___________________.
  • I will do everything I can to get this resolved quickly.

Your power in this trying situation comes from your response.

5. Provide a Solution for Better Resident Satisfaction

Great negotiators always know what the other person wants, so don’t forget to ask Scrooge what he would like to happen to resolve the issue. You will usually discover that Scrooge wants far less than you anticipated.

Once he presents his demands, take responsibility for making it happen. Don’t respond with, “I will have to talk to my supervisor and get back to you.” There is nothing more frustrating than having to wait a lengthy period of time for an issue to be resolved. Scrooges do not want to be passed around and forced to relive the negative experience over and over again.

Image of Man Tired of Being Put on Hold
Image Source: Shutterstock


A study conducted by Populus Research and Sunnyvale, California-based Kana Software, revealed some alarming statistics:

“Full resolution” of a customer service issue takes three attempts, and 69% of customers said they had to repeat their complaint to multiple staff members at the business being targeted for the complaint

17% say they have fallen into a customer service “death spiral” where they had to repeat their problem constantly for more than an hour.

Reassuring the customer that you will do what you can to resolve his problem will go a long way. Yes, sometimes resolving the problem is beyond your control and you will need to seek help, but you have to commit to starting the process.

6. Provide Quick Resolutions (and not the New Year’s kind)

According to a recent article “We’re On the Phone 6.5 Hours With Bad Customer Service,” authored by Brian O’Connell, adults in the United States spend on average 364 minutes every year on the phone waiting – and hoping – to fix a complaint.

If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. So when Scrooge presents the opportunity to address a problem, thank him. Then to the best of your ability, address it then and there. Even if you eventually must ask for help, put your best foot forward and attempt to mend the wound.

Your actions will speak a thousand words.

7. Follow-Up with Disgruntled Residents, Prospects and Employees

Following up with Scrooge can be one of the most important actions you can take in this entire process and yield awesome customer experience results. The old saying, “the fortune is in the follow-up” is true. Dropping the follow-up ball can quickly compound the problem. Pick a specific date for resolution, or a date when you will get back to the customer. And stick to it!

“Happy customers who get their issue resolved tell about 4-6 people about their experience.” – White House Office of Consumer Affairs.

When Scrooge contacts you to complain, look at it as an opportunity to build stronger relationships. For many companies, delivering great service and great customer experiences are their only competitive edge. Let your Scrooge know you care and want to hear the bad news as well as the good. It will defuse his temper at the least, and could very likely convert him into a loyal brand advocate for your company, which will put you light years ahead of your competition.


Image source: Shutterstock



President and Owner, Ellis Partners in Mystery Shopping

author photo two

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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