How to Handle It When the Job Goes Bad

How to Handle It When the Job Goes Bad
Chris Lonergan
Chris Lonergan May 10, 2018

Nobody is perfect. People can make mistakes. Vendors can have shipping problems. Equipment can be defective. But that doesn't mean that a negatively impacted customer would have a hard time figuring out who to blame.

Because this is something that will eventually happen in any business in any industry, you should be prepared and know how to handle it when the job goes bad. Let's talk about a few things to keep in mind as well as some tactics to minimize the damage and correct the situation.

ABC – Always Be Communicating

When things are going to head south, you as the service provider will sometimes see the issues coming. Whether it is a delay in schedule that means you have to break an appointment window or if the part you need to get the job done is now on backorder – you should open communication the moment you know there will be issues that could upset your customer. A phone call to apologize ahead of time is much easier to stomach. Not finding out about the problem until after the fact causes more issues. Simple customer communication can cure a lot of ills.

Expect the Need to Blow Off Steam

Of course the client could be upset. If they've been without AC in the middle of the summer or if they've gone 2 months without a fully working kitchen – and now there are more complications...

It is important to let your customer blow off steam. It can be hard to not get defensive here. They may name call, they may be disrespectful, they could rant and rave. In the end, realize that they are likely more upset about the situation than they are concerned about you personally.

Allowing the customer to get it all out may help to diffuse the situation. For many small issues, letting your customer have their say and granting them the chance to air their grievances and frustrations is sufficient remedy.

Apologize and Actually Mean It

Put yourself in your customer's shoes. What if this was you, your mom, or your family in the same situation? People can tell the difference between a placating apology that is made just for appearances sake compared to an honest-to-goodness apology for something that's gone awry.

Your apology shouldn't come with qualifications or extra baggage. Remember that this is about your client, not about you or your business at this point. That's also not to say that you should grovel for forgiveness at every turn. Find the middle ground.

Do More Than Apologize – Offer a Solution

In some circumstances, with larger problems or issues where neglect or poor planning in the moment has caused a customer to be unhappy, a simple apology acknowledging the problems and customer dissatisfaction may not be enough.

For bigger issues, clients are looking for more than an apology – they need a remedy to the situation. A fix for the situation doesn't have to be tied to a discount on service or freebie. In most cases, the remedy is the steps that you as a company or technician will be taking to ensure they won't have to deal with the problem.

Take the Opportunity to Improve Your Customer Loyalty

From personal experience in multiple venues of customer service, I've encountered some very upset customers who wanted to walk out angry. I've also witnessed first hand that, when those situations are handled correctly that they become opportunities to generate a renewed loyalty.

If you've upset a customer, no matter how big or small, you have the chance to change their mind. You have an opening to convert their terrible encounter with you and go above and beyond.

You know you operate a good business. Channel any frustration you have personally about the situation or how the dissatisfied customer treated you in the process into a positive customer service experience. This is your chance to prove your dissatisfied customer wrong about your business by killing them with kindness. By fixing the problem so well that they are now one of your most satisfied customers of the week.

If you don't take the time to fix the problem, you know that you are risking that your unhappy client will spread the bad news and litter the web with negative reviews. But if you can save that client, you can convert them from an enemy of your business into an advocate for your customer service.

No matter how good you are – eventually you'll have a customer who finds fault with what you do. Know how to respond and how to salvage the situation to continue learning, improving, and growing your company.

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