Tips to deal with unhappy customers

Mar 17, 2023 | Business

Let’s face it – every business hopes their customers are happy. After all, that leads to more customers! But unless we’re actively paying attention to what makes our customers happy or where mistakes are happening, there are probably more tough conversations than we’d like!

The good news is that there are things you can do to put processes in place to prevent unhappiness, strengthen customer relationships, and handle customers who might already be upset. Read on for a few helpful tips!

But first, why should we care?

Simply put, unhappy customers cost you money and happy customers can help your business grow.

Not only will a happy residential customer refer you to their network, but if you encourage them to leave reviews, it can really boost your sales. According to research, a mind-boggling 99.9% of customers read reviews when they shop online — and that includes services like countertops. If you have a bunch of negative reviews, there’s a good chance you’re going to start losing business to the next competitor down the line with better reviews. Yikes…

But, if you have a bunch of positive reviews then you’re the one getting all the business!

Ok it’s time for the tips

Stay calm

You already know the frustration of remakes. They cost you big. But also, even just the time that goes into dealing with an unhappy customer can trigger a headache. Whether it’s your team’s mistake, another contractor, or the homeowner’s lack of care, it’s easy to lose your cool and get into a heated back and forth with the upset customer demanding some sort of compensation. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t help!

No matter what happens (or what you might want to say), stay calm in tough situations and try to reach an agreement with the customer, even if the customer isn’t staying calm.

When you’re calm, it’s easier to have a positive discussion with the customer to find a solution that works for everyone. And even if you can’t find a solution to the problem, at the very least the customer won’t be able to call you rude or mean in the online reviews.

Put the customer in charge

Don’t give me that look! This is an age old tried and true tactic, I promise. Ask your customer what they would like to do to resolve the situation. Then, try to make that solution work for everyone.

Of course this doesn’t mean you should just redo the entire countertop because the customer says so. It’s important to find a mutually agreeable solution.

For example, one fabricator on an online forum says when he has an issue on a job, he likes to bring a check worth 50% of the project to the customer. He then tells the customer that he’s more than happy to completely redo the countertop, or they can take the check right now and call it a day.

Yes, the fabricator might lose 50% of the profits on the job. But, he’d lose 100% (plus lots of time) if he had to redo the entire project. This method of problem solving puts the customer in charge of the decision while gently nudging them to accept the discount.

Worst case situation

Alright, I’ll just say it. Sometimes, it’s best to simply eat the cost and redo a countertop. It’s absolutely the worst case, but one countertop rework isn’t worth the negative publicity that can come from an unhappy customer.

As one wise fabricator on an online forum states: “Make it disappear or replace it.” Yes, the crack could probably pass as a vein, but that’s really just an excuse for a poor finished product — and that’s not what your shop stands for! If you can’t make the problem completely go away, it’s time to head back to the shop and start over.

Nobody likes to “eat their veggies,” but in the end it’ll make your shop grow big and strong with all those happy customers.

Tips to create happier customers

Add a follow up step

If you add this step to your process, you’ll be able to add a personal touch that leaves your customers feeling cared for. It’s also a great way to either diffuse a potential problem or encourage a great review.

After a week or so, reach out to the customer by phone or email to see how they feel about the project.

In Systemize, you can add this to your process using the auto-schedule feature and assign it to someone to complete a specific time after installation. Then it’s on every job going forward!

Learn from your mistakes

Are you noticing a trend in customer complaints? If you keep a record of these, it is worthwhile to go through and categorize them. You just might find that there are some very preventable actions causing these problems.

For example, if you regularly crack countertops during installation, perhaps it’s time to upgrade your equipment and get something like a No Lift install cart. Or if your customers are regularly complaining about the mess being left after an installation, you can add a checklist item on your job forms for the install crew to clean up before they head out. Problem solved

The everlasting goal of customer satisfaction

The real problem isn’t that issues occur (because you’re never going to stop that); it’s how we handle the issues that count. When you’re dealing with an unhappy customer, remember to keep your cool, remain calm, put them in control, and eat the cost if you must. At the end of the day, it’s all about keeping your customers happy and learning from your mistakes. Happy customers mean better business!