You Can’t Make Them All Happy

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by Tom Watson on May 22, 2010

As you get some experience in the cleaning business you will learn that not all customers will be happy customers. There are many reasons for this. Some are fixable and some are not.

Most problems are the result of a lack of communication from the start.

Unhappy customers will manifest themselves in different ways. Sometimes what the customer asks of you during the bidding process is not really what they want done. For instance they may say they just need “light” cleaning.

You soon realize that “light” means more than they are letting on. Before long your expected to be removing the dust from behind the desk that is located in the room that you were never supposed to clean.

At other times the person that walked you through and told you what needed to be done had no real clue as to the cleaning requirements. In this case you are making the person who walked you through happy but not the individual who is writing the check. Not a good situation to be in.

Some other examples include:

  • Customers who suddenly think that large areas of hard surfacing flooring should be done on “your hands and knees”.
  • The blinds need to be taken down and washed.
  • Outside the front door sweeping should be performed to prevent dirt from being tracked in.
  • Carpet “spotting” of mystery stains need to be done regularly.

And the list goes on and on. The only problem with all these demands are they were never discussed during the bid process. Which means that you never factored that into the bid. Which means if you cave to the demand you are really working for free (which is not a good idea).

Having a unhappy customer is not your goal. But how do you tackle this?

Like I mentioned earlier. Some problems are fixable while others are not. Whether or not a particular customer becomes happy depends on just how far they will dig in their heels. Not to mention how well you handle it.

A great way to diffuse these misunderstandings is to refer to the work schedule that was created in the first place (of course this assumes you carefully constructed a work schedule that mirrors what the customer wanted at that time). Tactfully discuss with the customer that the  issues that are being raised were not mentioned at the time of the bidding.

Having the bid in front of you while you discuss this is key. State that you are looking at the agreement and see no mention of these issues being addressed during the bid process. Make sure to leave an “out” for the other party by mentioning that you would be happy to work up a price to address the increased responsibilities.

Provided the customer is a reasonable sort this approach should work. Most people understand how misunderstandings can occur and will work to straighten it out.

But like I said earlier some will dig in their heels and continue to complain. Maybe not about those issues anymore. Sometimes they shift to what you are supposed to be doing and find fault by putting you under the microscope. You will just have to muddle through until something breaks in these cases.

At the end of the day communication is paramount. Go over the work schedule line by line with the customer before ever starting work. This alone will prevent most of these type issues from ever arising. Making sure everyone is on the same page will make the customer happier and your life much easier.

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