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4 Ways to Mitigate Customer Complaints as a Contractor

Contractor at Work

You know how the old adage goes: you can’t please everyone. This is especially true as a business owner. The fact is that you are going to run into customer complaints at some point. It doesn’t matter if you run an impossibly tight ship and take every precaution to meet the total satisfaction of all your customers; some customers simply cannot be pleased. 

And at the end of the day, that’s ok. Most people don’t expect perfection and are even wary of it. If you are worried about a few bad customer reviews of your contracting business, you may not have all that much to worry about. Recent data suggests that consumers don’t actually trust businesses with perfect review ratings. In fact, the current ideal star rating is between 4.2 and 4.5 stars. The reason for this is that most consumers are aware of the fact that reviews can be manipulated. So when they see a perfect 5-star rating, they tend to think that something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

But don’t take that as license to start giving up all your customer service efforts. You should still try to deliver exemplary service every single time. But customer complaints are unavoidable. So in the following post, we are going to be talking about the best ways to mitigate customer complaints, how to manage bad reviews and answer some common questions related to customer complaints. Let’s start with the basics

Why do Customers Complain?

Why do customers complain in the first place? To truly answer this question one would need a degree in psychology. But on the surface, there are many reasons why a customer may choose to lodge a complaint against your contracting business. Here are a couple of reasons why and what you can do as a contractor:

  • Perceived Quality – Some customers simply have unrealistic expectations. No matter how finely crafted the product is, it may not live up to the lofty expectations of the customer. This is why it’s important as a contractor to have pictures and a comprehensive portfolio of your work so the customer can see what they can expect. Be honest with your customers. Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver. Make sure to set realistic goals for the project and don’t take on any projects that you can’t handle.
  • Unavailability – Communication is key in the contracting business.  Whether you are a roofer, electrician or an HVAC technician, you have to let the customer know what the project will entail, how it is progressing and be there to field their questions and concerns. A customer will feel wronged if they can’t get their questions answered. Make sure that your customers have multiple ways to get in touch with you. And even if you can’t field all their questions yourself, try to make sure that someone on your team is available at all times to speak with customers. Oh yeah, and it helps tremendously if the team member you appoint to speak with customers is knowledgeable of the specific project.

What are the Most Common Customer Complaints?

As a contractor, you are probably going to hear the same kinds of complaints throughout your career. The most common types of customer complaints for contractors have to do with:

  • Long Wait Times – Having to wait too long to talk to a representative is a very common customer complaint for contractors. That’s because a lot of contractors overlook having an ample office staff when they first start out.
  • Follow-up – As a contractor, it’s important that you be available to your customers even after the project is completed.  One of the most common complaints contractors of all kinds get is that no one was available to talk to after services had been rendered. 

Ways to Mitigate Customer Complaints

Want to avoid customer complaints altogether? While there is no way to totally avoid customer complaints, take a look at our list of tips for mitigating as many as possible:

1 – Understand your Business – If you offer emergency roofing, HVAC , plumbing or other emergency contractor services, be aware that the people who call you don’t want to have to call you. They may be in a panicked state and therefore, more irritable. It is important to understand the nature of your business and the types of people you will be dealing with most of the time. Be empathetic, put patient technicians on the job and focus on friendly service. 

2 – Avoid No-Shows – Customers hate contractor no-shows. If you say you will be there, you better be there if you want to avoid a nasty customer complaint. So don’t stretch yourself too thin. And if for some reason you still can’t make it to a service call, be sure to let the customer know. You would be surprised at how appreciative a customer can be of a heads-up phone call.

3 – Respond to Bad Reviews – So you’ve got a bad review. You have failed to mitigate a customer complaint. It’s not the end of the world and believe it or not; you can use that negative review to mitigate future complaints and even get rid of the review altogether. Google data shows that 33% of customers who received a reply from a business they negatively reviewed posted a positive review as a result and 34% deleted their original negative review. So it is very important to reply to any negative reviews your business may receive. 

4 – Do What you Say – Finally, it is very important as a contractor to live up to your promises. Never take on projects that you aren’t sure you will be able to complete on-time and within budget. Projects hit snags. Unforeseen issues arise on the job. It’s natural. But when they happen, communicate the issues to the customer clearly and promptly.

And of course, offering the best possible service you can is an effective method for mitigating customer complaints. For more helpful information and contractor resources, become a CSOA member today.

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