Referral Trigger for the week of May 12

Conversation led this week by the Canton Business Leaders Team, all responses welcome. (100% responses received)

Classification Conflicts

Rear view of businessman superhero flying up in sky         


Share a time you saw a client problem
or a conflict on the horizon and averted it.

How do you anticipate problems so they don’t become big issues.

Comment below to share your perspective.

27 Responses to Referral Trigger for the week of May 12
  1. John Bennett
    May 9, 2014 | 10:21 am

    Often, a borrower has an open Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) that they paid in full, but never sent in a written request to close the account. Paying a HELOC in full does not close the account. Instead of the borrower going to the bank to close the account, I ask them for the account number so we can get a payoff and instructions to close the account at the closing instead. The problem is that when borrowers request an account to be closed, the lender can take weeks to provide a letter or anything confirming the account is being closed, which delays the closing. If we get the request signed at closing and a payoff letter, I have documentation the account was closed and don’t need to wait on the lender to confirm anything. I just saved everyone from a delay of 2 to 4 weeks.

  2. John Hulbert
    May 9, 2014 | 10:30 am

    I am extremely fortunate to be backed by the best Home Office support team in the Travel industry, so unless its something attributed to human error (mine), little problems simply don’t have a chance to become major issues. I did have a prospect who was about to book one of those “too good to be true” cruise deals online, but before he did, and because of something he heard me say in an InfoMin, he decided to call me. Its a good thing he did, because this “deal” would’ve had him & his family in an Interior stateroom, one deck above where the crew lives, and right next to the engine room. I was able to get them a Group rate in a Balcony stateroom on the deck THEY wanted to be, not where the “deal” wanted to put them.

  3. Angie Hays
    May 9, 2014 | 10:47 am

    Sellers always seem to “know” what their house is worth. I had a client who was worried about listing their home because they didn’t realize how much equity they had. Once I pulled the recent sales in their neighborhood, they were shocked to see that, not only could they sell without bringing money to the closing table, but they would receive money back at closing! On the other hand, some sellers think their home is worth a lot more than it actually is. In those instances, I recommend a pre listing appraisal, done by a neutral 3rd party. Once the value is in black and white, with real numbers and real comparable properties, we can plan how to proceed. I also like to take my sellers to see their competition in person from a Buyer’s perspective. There’s nothing like walking through a pristine home for sale right down the street to help them see the light!

  4. James Smith
    May 9, 2014 | 11:19 am

    We were recently contracted to replace the floor for a couple living in a condominium. There had been some water damage that was the responsibility of the property management company. The supporting wall in the living area had settled 2 1/2 inches. We decided to install this floor personally to ensure it was done as well as possible to accommodate the height transition. At the end of the project as we were preparing to leave the homeowner refused to shake our hand. She said that wasn’t good enough. She had to hug our neck to show her appreciation for what we had done. It was a touching moment. We had averted potential problems by dealing with the issue directly.
    Inspecting properties thoroughly prior to flooring installation is the best way to foresee any potential problems and make the owner aware of any possible issues.

  5. LaToya Parker
    May 9, 2014 | 11:56 am

    When I see a conflict or potential problem on the horizon I immediately bring it to my clients attention and offer proactive solutions. This helps when the problem comes to light. My clients already know the steps that are going to be taken to resolve the issue. It calms an already stressful situation.

  6. David A. Citrin
    May 9, 2014 | 12:04 pm

    This happens frequently in my practice as a Personal Injury attorney because most people don’t understand how complex the insurance issues are and how easily a simple error can derail the process. Just recently I became aware that although a client had Medical Payments Coverage under her own automobile insurance policy that should have paid her very large hospital emergency room bill the insurer had denied the claim. I immediately called the hospital to determine what had happened and learned that when they submitted it they had added an extra digit to the claim number. I gave them the correct claim number, directed them to resubmit the bill and then called the adjuster to let him know to expect it so that he could authorize payment immediately. When I told my client what had happened she was initially very upset by the prospect that she might have to pay that bill out of her own pocket while waiting for the insurance company and hospital to figure it out but she then became extremely relieved when she realized that not only would she not be responsible for a bill that was in excess of $15,000 but that everything had already been taken care of.

  7. Bonnie Ellis
    May 9, 2014 | 2:17 pm

    As the Branch Manger, I listen to the customers interaction with my associates. If I hear a customer raising their voice or speaking rude to my associates, I will walk over and ask if I may assist the customer with anything. Usually, this will help calm the situtation with the client and my associates feel appreciated.

  8. Larry Black
    May 9, 2014 | 5:22 pm

    When working with a new client, trust must be earned. My guarantee, “Your computer is fixed or you don’t pay.” puts new clients at ease. They know that they will not be paying for bad service. My style is to explain as the job is performed, so the clients not only have their device repaired, but they learn something during the service. Usually, by the time the job is finished, they have referred me to another associate or family member.

  9. Nicholas Ovens
    May 12, 2014 | 8:48 am

    In our business there are a lot components that can easily cause an issue with the our clients. One of our major value adds is to make sure we either avoid the problem or mitigate it as much as possible.
    Most recently one of our commercial clients changed the design and materials for some columns that we were building. The mill where we get our materials from had a two week lead time. The columns needed to be built within two days. This presented an issue/problem. Our solution was to source the materials with relationships that we had with other suppliers we were able to pick up about 5,000 lbs of materials and have it on site so our guys could install that day. Enabling our client to complete their multi million dollar project on time.

  10. Len Nelms
    May 12, 2014 | 9:04 am

    In the tax business, most individuals expect to receive a tax refund, and can’t comprehend not qualifying for one. If I see a tax return that will result in the taxpayer owing money, I will typically call the client, and ask questions designed to help them understand that they may have failed to pay enough tax during the year. Usually, the light bulb comes on! Then, when I finalize the return and discover they do owe taxes, it’s an easier pill to swallow. Then we can talk about tax reduction strategies!

    • Kathy McStatts-Fulton
      May 12, 2014 | 9:45 am

      In the printing business there are set-up and art fees for new clients. When dealing with a new client we ask for any art/logo files that they have so we can see if we can save them money by using their exiting files. We also are clear when quoting prices if the printed item is going to be one color, black ink or multiple inks. If a client is picking shirt colors from our catalog, we offer to get them a sample in for free so they can actually touch, feel and see the fabric. We try our best to have a 100% happy client list but unfortunately you do run across a problem but you learn from that problem and remember it to avoid the same problem in the future.

  11. Jeanne Westmoreland
    May 12, 2014 | 10:32 am

    Good communication is key to averting client problems or conflicts. When I am working with a Seller, it is most likely that there is also a Realtor already hired by my client. In many cases, my client is both the Seller and The Realtor, because the Realtor has hired me on behalf of their client. If the Realtor isn’t present during a meeting with the Seller, I always contact the Realtor to let them know how the meeting went and discuss any potential sensitive issues. Technically, the Realtor is the “project leader”, and he/she has to know what is happening with the project. Many times the Realtor and I play “good cop, bad cop”, me being the bad cop. There is a delicate and important relationship we form with our Sellers and success of their sale sometimes hinges on how well we have all communicated as a team.

  12. Russell Elam
    May 12, 2014 | 11:24 am

    Many of the problems I deal with are credit related, which is the first step in the approval process. I recently had a client whom spoke to a few lenders before reaching out to me. After careful review of their credit I was able to point out a few items that they were able to remove/update with our rapid rescore program, which put them in position to buy now.

    There are a lot of moving parts in a mortgage transaction so knowing every guideline in detail helps me avert potential issues. Also being able to speak with underwriting directly allows me eliminate major issues on the front end of the transaction.

  13. Michael Brooks
    May 12, 2014 | 11:59 am

    I was working with a client recently who was about to make a seriously bad financial decision of buying a house in New England (that was way more than what legitimately she could afford) and encouraged her to check out different options, rather than use all her retirement savings to pay in cash. I went over her financial plan that we work on every year, and showed her the impact that withdrawing most of her savings would have on her income in retirement. I also prepared an alternate plan showing a home that she actually could afford and as well taking out a mortgage at historically low rates, compared to long-term investment returns, and showed the impact of her decision that could potentially have “cost” her over the lifetime of her plan, literally a couple million dollars. She took my my advice, was able to find a more affordable home, and still has plenty of money for retirement. She’s thrilled she found a place, and now doesn’t have to worry about running out of money, and is able to meet her goals effectively.

  14. Oscar Velez
    May 12, 2014 | 12:30 pm

    During the quoting process for an exterior paint project, part of my job is to try to find wood rot so the client will have an idea of the repairs that will be necessary to complete the project.

    From time to time, I have the unfortunate task of pointing out termite damage to a client, which is something that is outside the scope of work that we do. I ask the client if they have a termite plan, and if the answer is no, it turns into a referral for my table. If yes, I let them know that that needs to be addressed before we can start any work, otherwise, the damage will continue no matter what we do to it.

    Great communication is key when dealing with clients and other trades so that we can complete the project in the time and budget that we estimated.

  15. Joseph Chvatal
    May 12, 2014 | 1:00 pm

    For me and my business, it’s ever changing, especially with the new government health care laws. I’ve always stayed on top of industry changes ( through industry newsletters and webinar updates ) in every aspect of my business. That way I can contact my clients a provide guidence to them on how the change will affect them and what changes if any might be necessary to protect the financial exposure.

  16. Scott Lavelle
    May 12, 2014 | 2:41 pm

    In the computer service industry, we often work in a “put out the fire” mode, so being ahead of the curve where possible is a definite benefit to both our clients and our own business. To accomplish this, we have a helpdesk system setup so that for both internal and external requests so we can assign proper priorities to be sure that all of our active issues are getting taken care of in an orderly fashion.

    We also keep up on the latest technology news to be sure that we know of pending changes, security issues, trends, etc. A great example of this was the readiness for things like the retirement of Windows XP, the Heartbleed bug, and the most recent Flash vulnerability.

  17. Ronald Debranski
    May 12, 2014 | 3:10 pm

    Looking ahead to avert problems is a big part of what lawyers do. For example, regarding real estate transactions and refinance closings, my staff and I are constantly on the lookout for problems that would make a client not want to close. For example, as soon as we get the closing documents, we call the client to make sure they understand the closing statement and, in the event they have to bring money to close, are prepared for that. We also make sure the client or clients know who all has to be at the closing and what they have to bring with them. As with any business, preparation is the key.

  18. Elaine Reed
    May 12, 2014 | 3:47 pm

    Communication is really the key to averting conflict with my customers. Many clients think that once we implement a few key moves they will be #1 on the Google search results pages. Sometimes we may get a quick bump to the top of the page, but more often than not, getting search engine ranking increases takes a focused effort and patience! Once I explain this to my clients don’t get disappointed if they don’t see immediate changes in their rankings — but they wind up very pleased when they see that over time their ranking are increasing and staying at or near the top of the search results page.

  19. Lindsay Prose
    May 12, 2014 | 5:59 pm

    We try to be proactive and discuss all options with clients before performing any work; especially the most common misconceptions. An example of that is stump grinding…some customers may have a lot of roots that run through their yard and expect them to be gone along with the tree and stump. Some roots would need to be chased a long way and it would tear up the customers yard and not necessarily meet their expectations. We find that discussing in person and writing out detailed quotes is helpful, but misunderstandings can still happen and we use it as a learning experience. We like to address any problems quickly and do what we can to make it right for the customer.

  20. Chris Quay
    May 12, 2014 | 6:26 pm

    Education is a key component, I won’t just ask the client to do something (stop spraying raid for ants). I will explain the science behind it. Raid is a contact poison/repellent.Ants will die you won’t see ants in that place, however the queen has not been addressed and she will produce more eggs in a day than the number of ants you killed with the raid. They will return.

    Baiting is the answer to ants.

  21. Nicole Humphreys
    May 12, 2014 | 7:39 pm

    Communication is a huge factor in avoiding conflict in our line of work. When talking to a customer about they are looking for, I reiterate all of the key points that we have discussed ensuring that both parties are walking away with the same basic understanding of what they would like. When a client calls us because their television will not turn on with their smart remote they are already frustrated. The best way that I have learned to handle this is to listen and assure them that we will be out to their house as soon as possible. I strive to ensure that we are there to help and will do everything we can to right the problem.

  22. Shad Sutherland
    May 12, 2014 | 9:51 pm

    In the Pharmacy business, or healthcare, patient’s insurance coverage changes annually. When the new year comes (or enrollment periods), we make sure to ask the patient if they have a new insurance card. We will try to obtain this information over the phone, so the patient does not have to wait at the pharmacy for us to rerun the insurance claim. We strive to minimize the wait for our customers as much as possible. Sometimes we need to call the insurance company, as well, to obtain the required information to adjudicate a claim.

  23. Gai Lynn McCarthy
    May 13, 2014 | 2:18 pm

    When I represent a Debtor in bankruptcy, there are a number of issues that must be considered. One of the primary concerns is whether the client has made any transfers that could be considered fraudulent or preferential. If a client makes a fraudulent transfer, they could lose their discharge. However, if they have made a preferential transfer, there are ways to plan to protect the transfer and the transferee.
    Debbie came to my office intending to file for bankruptcy immediately. However, during the course of our interview, I learned that she had sold her house within the past few months and had transferred a large sum of money to her father to pay him back for various loans he had made to her. I informed Debbie that if we filed her bankruptcy now, the Chapter 7 Trustee would pursue her dad to return the money she had repaid him. In order to protect her dad, we decided to wait to file her bankruptcy petition until after the preferential transfer period had expired (one year from the date of the transfer for insiders/family members). In the meantime, Debbie will call me if she receives any lawsuits. That allows me to remain current with her financial situation while protecting her father from a lawsuit.

  24. Carla Collis Gesite
    May 13, 2014 | 2:31 pm

    Recently, one of my coaching clients (I’ll call her “Amy”) went through a major transition. Due to health concerns, she quit her job working as a full-time executive. She worked a few hours a week as a home-based transcriptionist, but the bulk of her time was spent resting and restoring her health.

    A month after quitting her job, Amy was doing remarkably well adjusting. She suggested we switch from twice monthly sessions to a call every other month. On the surface, it sounded like a good idea. But I knew it wasn’t. So much of Amy’s identity was caught up in being an executive go-getter. Once the novelty of quitting her job wore off, Amy would be vulnerable to increasing her activity, leading to a health setback. Fortunately, she agreed to one call a month.

    During our next session, Amy confessed her relief that we had scheduled a monthly call. She was feeling unproductive and guilty that she wasn’t working full-time. We revisited her reasons for quitting her job and her vision of being healthy and active in the future. We also created a job description for her current “job”: becoming a healthier person.

  25. Judy Crawford
    May 14, 2014 | 10:32 am

    This is a great question for me…my personality is one that I try to avoid conflict like the plague. Professionally, it’s inevitable that someone will be unhappy or misunderstand their policy and/or coverages and how it applies. Having years of experience behind me I can forsee ‘most’ issues that will arise and I spend the time on the front end of writing coverage to find their needs, communication style and concerns as much as possible to make things clear from the get go. I have had several clients that just want to get it over with and I have to remind them when an issue arises that the issue was not disclosed to me. Effective communication to each clients preferences is the key for me.

  26. Dr, Jim Hovey
    May 21, 2014 | 8:00 pm

    When sensing a disconnect with a client by noticing a change of tone in their voice or even body language, I would immediately ask if there was a problem or something that they didn’t understand that I could clarify.

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