Taking care of customer complaints FAST will help you keep accounts long term

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by Tom Watson on January 15, 2017

One of the early lessons I learned in the cleaning business is that unresolved complaints soon lead to you getting fired.

Sadly it took me a while to get this though my thick head, and I lost a few pretty good cleaning accounts as a result.

It wasn’t as if I was the guy in the picture above shredding the complaints as they came in, it was more of me not giving the problem enough attention out of the gate. My problem was I was SUPER BUSY, and I kind of put existing customers on the back-burner as I was signing up new accounts and getting them started.

I thought I was doing the right thing at the time, but in hind sight I was completely backwards because I was loosing accounts as fast as I signed up new ones. It generally went like this: A complaint came in and I thought it could wait until I got some new account off the ground.

Maybe the customer didn’t like the cleaner they had and wanted another due to a personality issue, or perhaps they requested higher quality toilet paper (yea that happened a few times). Who knows, it could have been anything, but the fact is I dragged my feet for a week or two and as a result the customer thought I DID NOT CARE.

Now once the customer thinks you don’t care, they lose interest in sending you that fat monthly check to clean the place. This puts the wheels in motion for your dismissal. Sadly you don’t realize this is happening because you “think” that all is OK. They stopped calling to complain and you mistakenly believe PROBLEM SOLVED.

Of course the problem is not solved. They are quiet because they have already GIVEN UP ON YOU and are interviewing other cleaning companies to take your place. So a month or two goes by and WHAM… you get the certified letter in the mail (or the equally dreaded phone call) indicating when your last day will be.

So the moral here is to PAY ATTENTION to the clues the customer gives you. All complaints, no matter how small need to be given priority attention. If you can fix the issue, and go a little beyond the call of duty in doing so you will be in great shape. The customer will not lose faith in you, and those FAT CHECKS will keep rolling in.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Julio Heredia January 15, 2017 at 11:29 am

Tom,
This is one of my biggest fears….losing an account. I have worked so hard to get the account I definitely don’t want to lose it. I don’t wait for my clients to complain I ask very frequently how do they feel about the service they are getting? Do they see any problems or have any complaints? Couple of my clients tell me “you guys are doing a wonderful job you don’t have keep asking if there are any problems” Then naturally if something does come up then my staff and take care of the issue very nice day. I don’t wait for things to happen I am very proactive with all my clients.

2 Tom Watson January 15, 2017 at 11:48 am

That’s AWESOME Julio! Keep doing that and you’ll be in great shape long-term.

3 Joe January 15, 2017 at 12:46 pm

I agree with Julio. I always ask the customer how things are going. I also give suggestions. I ask about areas not mentioned to be cleaned and offer to clean them at no charge. For a example. One of my buildings in the break room the microwave is suppose to be cleaned by the employees. It never gets cleaned so I cleaned it and showed the contact responsible for the contract. He thanked me and just had a look of amazement that I was going above and beyond for his company.

I just want to send you a shout out Mr. Watson. You have truly educated me and have took my business to the next level!!

4 Tom Watson January 15, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Hi Joe! Thanks for the kind words. I enjoy helping others AVOID the mistakes I made (along with some of the things I did right). And I would like to send my sincere THANKS to everyone out there that takes the time to read what I have to say. It means a lot to me to have such an awesome group to chat about the cleaning business with!

5 Joe January 15, 2017 at 12:58 pm

You are so welcome! I was online just looking for ideas, suggestions & HELP! I found you and listened to almost all of your podcast I read your post every Sunday. I don’t always respond but trust me I listen and learn! I just felt the need to give you a simple thank you because there are thousands of cleaning services and I need all the help I can get! I believe your help has not only gain customers, but also keep them!

6 Sammy January 26, 2017 at 5:25 am

I agree with the above comments. The best way to know if your clients are not happy is to ask them. Every time I visit a client I always ask if things were OK the last time. If there was a problem, we sort it out there and then. In my opinion, clients don’t want the hassle of looking for a new service so they will be happy if you are proactive with them.

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