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How to Handle Customer Complaints in Your Cleaning Business

Steve Hanson
 


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No matter how large or how small your cleaning business is, there is going to come a time when you answer the phone and find a customer on the other end who has a complaint. How you handle that complaint can have either a positive or negative impact on your business. Customers do realize that everyone makes mistakes, however handling that complaint in a professional and timely manner is going to say a lot about your cleaning business.

Following are a few key tips to help you effectively manage customer complaints:

1. Listen to your customer. Avoid interrupting them until they've finished speaking. By listening closely you'll be able to determine what it is they want you to do to resolve the problem. And be sure to thank them for bringing it to your attention. You don't want to sound irritated or annoyed by their call, but empathetic and grateful they called so you can solve the problem

A complaint can run the gamut from a trash can that wasn't emptied to soap dispensers that weren't filled to poor behavior by employees. Ask questions and make sure you understand the precise nature of the complaint. If need be, visit the job site to see why the customer is unhappy and take care of the problem yourself.

2. Never raise your voice or use profanity when speaking to a customer. If your customer is upset or angry they might raise their voice and even start swearing. Try to calm your customer by saying something like, “We want to do everything we can to make this right. Let's talk about this, and I believe we can fix the problem. "

3. Decide what you need to do to solve the problem. After handling the complaint, go back and figure out the cause. Once you know the cause decide on a course of action so the problem does not happen again.

Usually complaints are the result of poor training or differences in expectations. If the problem involves training, then find out who dropped the ball - the employee or the supervisor? Then determine if this is an isolated incident or if your training procedures need reviewing.

Problems that stem from differences in expectations can be tricky. Did the customer not receive a list of cleaning specifications? Were they not clear enough? Did you make promises you failed to keep? If one of these circumstances caused the complaint then perhaps you need to clarify your specifications list or ensure you never make promises you can't keep.

4. Follow up to make sure you or your employees take care of the complaint quickly. If you agree to fix the problem and say you are going to visit the client's building that afternoon, then be there! By following through and fixing the problem quickly, your customer will see that you really do care about their building and their business.

5. To avoid further complaints in the future, be sure that your cleaning customer has a copy of the building specifications - this should specify the exact duties your cleaning company is responsible for. It may also help to leave a customer communications log in the building. Then when the customer has a concern, he or she can write it in the log. One of your cleaning employees should check the log each time they are in the building to see if there are issues they need to resolve. This is very effective, as most buildings are cleaned after hours and direct contact with the cleaning crew is isn't always possible.

No matter how thoroughly you do your job or your employees do their jobs, you will eventually have a complaining customer. Be professional by doing everything you can to make the situation right. This will pay off in long-term relationships with your cleaning customers and will always give your cleaning company a good reputation.

Copyright (c) 2007 The Janitorial Store

Steve Hanson is co-founding member of The Janitorial Store (TM), an online community that offers weekly tips, articles, downloads, discussion forums, and more for anyone who would like to learn how to start a cleaning business . Visit The Janitorial Store's blog and get inspired by reading cleaning success stories from owners of cleaning companies.

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