The most frustrating customer service failure I’ve ever dealt with

Jul 29, 2022
Building a culture that is based on your values where success can flourish

I am one of the thousands of Australians who have had a negative experience with Qantas this year.

My story is that they sent me an email in January letting me know that I was owed a partial refund on the taxes and fees I paid for a frequent flyer booking from 2020. That was welcome news!

The instructions in the email were that I should contact them if the money didn’t automatically arrive in my account within two weeks (which it didn’t).

I called them in February and follow their instructions. After being transferred from department to department and being left on hold until the phone cut out, I couldn’t take it anymore and I just gave up.

It was the most frustrating customer service failure I’ve ever dealt with.

In fact, I am still so scarred from the experience that I still haven’t called them back yet to get my money!

But I don’t blame the staff I was dealing with; I blame Qantas management.

After all, the people within a business, and the actions they take, reflect the leadership in that business.

That’s what I’m talking about in episode 98 of CRE Success: The Podcast.



Episode transcript:

The fish rots from the head. Now, this is a saying that you've probably heard before.

What it means is that whenever there is an issue in a team, we can typically trace that issue, trace that failing back to the leadership.

It's a statement, which I believe is true metaphorically. I've been told that biologically, it isn't actually true. I haven't tried it out.

But what I want to do today is bring that saying into the context of commercial real estate leadership and show you some things that you can do to create a business that you're proud to lead.

Hello, and welcome to Episode 98 of CRE Success: The podcast. My name is Darren Krakowiak. And I'm here to help commercial real estate leaders to develop their people and to grow their business.

I hope you're enjoying this special series of leadership episodes that we're doing on the podcast.

And if leadership is not quite what you're looking for, a couple of things to note.

One, maybe it is what you're looking for. Because even if you're not a leader of people, you definitely are a leader of your clients.

You're probably a leader within or aspiring, hopefully to be a leader within the marketplace. And certainly, you need to lead yourself.

So some of the concepts that we're talking about are relevant in many different areas of commercial real estate, not just for people leaders.

But with that being said, if you're looking for some other topics, which aren't related to leadership, there is a whole back catalogue of episodes for you to take a listen to in your favorite podcast player.

Or you can go to YouTube, where we upload all the episodes as well. Things like prospecting, personal branding, your own efficiency and effectiveness dealing with clients. 

They're all topics that we deal with in CRE Success: The podcast. So go and check out the back catalogue.

And if you listen to us on your podcast player on your phone, you can download the entire back catalogue for free, and listen when you want to.

So, as I mentioned at the top of the show, we're talking about how the fish rots from the head.

And there are so many examples of this being true when it comes to how people look for fault and accountability in different groups, organizations, teams, in sport.

When a team is seen as not performing up to their potential, it's usually the coach whose head is on the chopping block first.

If you've ever worked in an organization with a toxic workplace culture, or in a team, where things just don't seem quite right, you can usually trace that back to the leader of that team.

Or sometimes you can even trace it up to higher levels of leadership within that business.

And when it comes to poor customer service that often starts with the leadership as well.

And this year Qantas, the Australian Airline has been getting a lot of flack for poor customer service.

I've been on the end of it as well. And I tried to deal with their customer service through the call center. And I gave up.

Because it was really frustrating and difficult, even though they owe me $250.

I figured that getting $250 back wasn't as important as my mental health. So I've given up on it until I figured they've sorted out their call centers.

But they were actually getting news reports done about how poor things are inside Qantas.

And the CEO came out when they were having some big delays at the airports and losing baggage and so forth. 

And he actually blamed customers for saying, 'Customers weren't match fit. Because of the pandemic, people don't know how to travel anymore.'

And I saw that and I thought, "Okay, well, that's why there's bad customer service inside that airline, because the CEO doesn't even want to take responsibility for issues that are clearly significant, because they've been reported on in the news." 

But what I want to talk to you about today is around building culture and having a successful commercial real estate business.

And doing that through the leader that you are in some steps that you can take to create that environment and to build that culture.

One thing that I believe to be true is that the people that you attract to a business and the actions that they take are partly a reflection of the kind of leader you are. 

So, the better leader you are, and the better that you become as a leader, the higher caliber the type of people that you'll be able to attract and keep inside your business.

The people inside the business are a reflection of you. And what happens in your team reflects on you if you are a leader.

And what this means is that when something is going on inside the business and you're the leader of that business and you're not happy with what somebody has done, rather than being upset with that individual, there is an opportunity to take a look at yourself.

And to ask yourself, "Have you done enough to create the environment that will help people succeed?"

Because for everyone to be at their best, it requires you to be the best version of yourself as well.

And one of the things that I see quite often is that leaders expect certain behaviors from people in their team.

But often they haven't done enough to communicate what those expectations are.

And I believe the best way that you can communicate expectations about the type of culture that you're trying to build and what you want to see from the people inside the team that you have, is to communicate your values.

So they understand what's important to you, and to communicate those values to people in the business in the team.

So then it's more reasonable to assume that they're able to live up to the expectations that we have.

And communicating expectations is something that seems obvious when you say it, but it wasn't obvious to me when I was leading teams in commercial real estate.

And I at one point in my career had a leadership coach, who was helping me with leadership issues.

And one of the things that she told me when I was talking to her about some of my frustrations with the team who were on a conference call, and people weren't listening.

And it was with colleagues from overseas, I was in Korea at the time.

And I felt that the people in my team should have been showing more respect by being more present, and giving their attention more to what was going on in this conversation as opposed to playing with their phone or not turning up on time with the calls, etc.

And she said to me, "Well, something for you to do here is to communicate those expectations. And not just to assume that people should act that way."

And to me, it seemed obvious that if you're on a call with people from overseas, who are your colleagues, who are giving you their time to help you in some work, then of course, you give them your attention, you show them that respect.

But what's obvious to me may not be obvious to others, or they may not have seen it the same way.

So communicating your expectations, letting people know what you believe to be important, then creates an environment where people are more likely to be able to have their actions reflect what you think is important. 

So this is really a conversation about control and responsibility.

So the more control that you'll be able to have over your organization and the way that people act in it and the results that they produce, you will have more control, if you take the time to be clear about what it is that you stand for what you think's important, and to communicate that with people. 

And that is ultimately your responsibility.

Now, can a leader control everything that's going on inside of an organization? (I use the word control in a different sort of way here.)

No, you can't. And of course, there are going to be times when there'll be some bad eggs or where people will make mistakes or where things don't go according to plan.

But this is also true. The better leader you are, the less likely that is to occur.

So often when people are employed, for example, and things don't work out, one of the reasons that things don't work out is because there has been a mismatch in expectations and values.

And if we're clear on who we are, and what we expect, and what we're looking for, then we're more likely to attract those types of people. 

And we're more likely to see the people who we want to have acting in that way, actually succeed in meeting our expectations, and hopefully exceeding them as well.

So core values, your values, are really important.

It's about understanding what your values are, and then communicating to them in a way which people can understand.

And the beauty of communicating what your values are, and also around your expectations is that when there are difficult conversations that are required in the future.

Those conversations become a little bit less difficult for you as the leader, because you've already stated what your values and your expectations are in the past.

So if there is something going on, which doesn't reflect what you believe to be important, and you've already shared that the reasons why that wouldn't be important because of your values, because of your expectations, you can tie back that conversation to the previous statements that you've made.

And if people have bought into those values, if they've understood what your expectations are, then it's just a clear a conversation as opposed to just being upset with someone that having done something that you're not happy with. 

If we're able to tie it back to our values which have been communicated earlier, we can say, "Look, this is not consistent with the values that we've talked about, with the expectations that I've asked for. So what are we going to do about this? How can we correct this?" 

I think people are a reflection of the leader, as I said. And the better you are as a leader, the better the people inside your business will be.

So, if we want to have a successful team, if we want to have a successful business, then it requires us to be the best version of ourselves as a leader.

So understand what your values are, communicate those values, let people know about your expectations, as well.

And when those expectations aren't met, make sure before you actually criticize others for not meeting those expectations that you as a leader, have done enough to communicate those expectations.

In a way that is reasonable to expect that they could understand that the actions that they've taken perhaps weren't in line with what those expectations are.

So this is just a little part of culture, and also your own leadership skills, which we do deal with inside CRE Success, business and leadership coaching program as part of agency solutions.

If you'd like to know more about this program, it's all about helping commercial real estate leaders to build a team of top performers so they can turn their business into a bigger asset that is not so reliant on their own production.

Go to Take a look on that page and you can just leave your details.

And if you do that, we'll get back to you and we can start creating a plan that will help you develop your people and grow your business so you can be the best leader that you can be and bring out the best in the people who you lead.

That's our episode for today. Thank you so much for listening, and I will speak to you soon.

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