So a funny thing happened on a recent Wednesday evening. It was funny for a few minutes and then it ended up causing me a lot of grief and wasted time. I was mad, like really, really mad. I’m all for a practical joke, anyone that knows me, knows that I have a good sense of humor, even a bit twisted. Okay, fine, REALLY twisted but not when it comes at the expense of jeopardizing my business or the ability to service my customers. But first, let me give you some context …
I left home on Tuesday afternoon and was going to be in Winnipeg for a few days. I had a home buying seminar in Selkirk which was a small and intimate session but people left with a ton of value and I’m happy to say I have a few new clients. Wednesday was meetings with some great realtors, meetings with our Winnipeg broker, and a few other things on the agenda. Wednesday night was the Winnipeg Jets game which was amazing to see live. That’s a moment in life I will never forget, I’ve never seen so much passion and appreciation for a sports team from their fans. Thursday was a board meeting as a member of the Manitoba Broker Council, then finally, finally I’d get to come home. DISCLAIMER: I tend to miss my wife more than any man should and I’m not afraid to admit it. Anyway, back to the story!
It started around 10:30 in the morning when, out of nowhere, my phone starts to explode with phone calls. Within four minutes I received over 30 phones call regarding the Jets tickets I was selling online at Kijiji.ca. Apparently I was the most generous guy in Winnipeg and I didn’t even know it. Here I was, on game day, with the Winnipeg Jets facing elimination, selling my tickets for just above regular ticket price. This on a day when the cheapest tickets online were anywhere from 700–1000 dollars per ticket.
Only one problem: While I was fortunate enough to be going to the game, I certainly wasn’t selling any tickets. I was being pranked or, more alarmingly, my name and number were being used to try and scam people out of their money. They were using my name and phone number but the email address wasn’t mine so I couldn’t possibly get in to cancel the ad.
Here’s the problem — I’m a bit OCD when it comes to the client experience. I’m known for picking up the phone or replying to a text or email quickly to “wow” my potential or existing clients. On this particular day that was a curse more than a gift. I answered almost every call; it wasn’t until the 15th or 20th that it dawned on me to start telling people to report the ad so it would get removed. After 10 minutes and 100+ missed calls I guess it got removed because the calls stopped, but the damage was already done.
I was livid. If you’ve ever seen a bald person get mad it’s rather funny because our heads are kinda like mood rings. I must have looked like a grape wearing giant glasses driving around the city. I missed actual clients calls, my battery life went from 90% to 40% in 10 minutes and my mailbox was now full. As I drove to my hotel room something else crept into my mind though; what about those poor people?? What if they emailed that ad and were getting scammed this very minute. What if they thought it was me since the person had used my name and phone number??
I immediately posted the situation to Facebook for no other reason than to time stamp the occurrence should this somehow come back to haunt me. In hindsight, that was completely useless but seemed smart at the time. I felt awful and wished there had been something I could do to help them to make sure they didn’t get ripped off, but it was over, I could only hope they didn’t get ripped off. It’s really sad to see what people will do to make a quick buck. I got to the hotel and settled in for a uninterrupted day of work, until around 5pm …
Just before 5 pm all hell broke loose. I still don’t know how many ads went up but I never knew a phone could take so many calls. The only time I didn’t answer a call was because text message notifications were coming up so fast I couldn’t hit the answer button. Apparently the person had launched a full scale attack at my expense to try and catch people in their desperation three hours before game time. This time, though, I was of a different mind set. I had been given time to reflect and digest this once before and I came out swinging — but not the way you think.
In the span of 45 minutes I answered over 50 text messages and took over 30 calls. The only reason I didn’t do more was because I couldn’t text or talk to two people at the same time. I answered the phone call or text politely, listened to every single person and then treated them like every customer I’ll ever have, with absolute respect and a genuine desire to help. I apologized that I didn’t have tickets for sale. I explained that unfortunately it seems my information was being used to try and scam people out of their hard earned money. I warned them not to email the person or, if they already had, to ignore them because that’s what this thief was banking on, to anonymously trick them into getting money from them online. I told them that I really hope they find tickets but to make sure they’re meeting the person at the game so they can go inside and verify the tickets are real BEFORE they pay for them. I also told them that if I learned of anyone legitimately selling tickets that I’d be more than willing to call them back.
People were blown away.
“Why are you helping me? I be so p#$&ed right now”
“Wow, I’m sorry for bugging you but thanks for being so helpful”
“Thank you very much for your honesty”
There are a few morals to this story, but here are the ones I want you to think about:
1) There is no better advertising than genuinely caring for the people you come in contact with. We now live in a world where we talk to each other less than ever before. People love being cared for and feeling like someone has their back.
2) Go the extra mile –we can all do the basics but what does it really cost you to go over and above to try and assist someone?
3) Show compassion. If people might be inconvenienced by something, then apologize. We’re so worried about pointing out something might be wrong but it means that much more to a person if they see that you really care about them.
4) Be real. If you’re not, then 1–3 don’t matter
I still don’t know who did that to me and at first I wanted them to suffer numerous messy, terrible, albeit creative, fates. The way the situation ended up though — the feeling of helping and caring about that many people in a short amount of time — that’s something I may never be able to thank this person for.
GO JETS GO.
Chris Turcotte is a mortgage broker, relentless entrepreneur, husband, watch enthusiast and social media junkie. Visit him at www.christurcotte.ca, where this post was first published..