Working With Difficult Clients

Working with customers can be difficult, especially when they’ve had a negative experience and it’s our job to fix it. To make this easier we’ve got a few tricks and tips to follow that will help us not only preserve the companies reputation but also our sanity. 

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Avoid Difficult Customers

In order to preserve our reputation, it’s important to avoid difficult clients as much as we can.

Difficult customers are the ones that…

  • Don’t abide by our terms of service (i.e. refunds, cancellation policy, etc.)
  • Have unrealistic expectations for the cleaning
  • Have gone through multiple cleaning companies
  • Lawyers, realtors, business owners (outside the service industry), highly educated men (i.e. multiple degrees)

To avoid these customers do the following:

  • Block them in Launch 27
  • Remove them from ALL marketing
  • Flag their account with a reason for denial of service

To avoid difficult new customers use the service area trick

Service Area Trick:
We let our teams clean close to their homes and all the cleaners are booked with regular clients at the moment.  We’re working on hiring in that area but in the meantime, I’d suggest going to thumbtack.com for something quicker.

If Someone Had A Bad Experience

When dealing with customers who’ve had a bad experience always revert to the HEARD method.

This works well for disarming just about anyone. It offers a great template for what to say to an upset customer.

Sometimes customers want a refund. Other times, they want to be heard (literally).  

HEARD is an acronym for:

  • Hear
  • Empathize
  • Apologize
  • Resolve
  • Diagnose

1) Hear

Let the customer tell their entire story without interruption. Often when someone is upset, the biggest thing they need is for someone to listen.

2) Empathize

Empathy is one of the most critical customer service skills to have. It’s the ability to deeply understand the thoughts and emotions of the customer. It’s also important to make sure they know they’re being understood.

Use phrases like “I’d be upset too”, “I can see why you’d be frustrated”, or “I’d be disappointed too if this happened to my home.”

3) Apologize

As long as it’s sincere, it’s hard to apologize too much.

37% of customers were satisfied with service recovery when offered something of monetary value (e.g., a refund or credit). When there’s an apology on top of compensation, satisfaction doubles to 74%.

4) Resolve

Resolve the issue quickly. This could mean, adding some extra notes and following up with the team so items don’t get missed the next time or a refund.

If the unsure what sort of compensation or resolution would be appropriate, ask the customer: What can we do to make this right?

Showing eagerness to do right by them, will begin to bridge the gap between the customer’s dissatisfied state and where we want them to be.

5) Diagnose

Once the customer is satisfied, get to the bottom of why the mistake occurred, without blaming anyone. Work on a plan to prevent this from happening in the future.

Letting Clients Go

NOTE: Before letting anyone go, always solve the issue at hand. Canceling on a client while working to solve or immediately after solving an issue will always result in a negative review.

To solve the issue follow the H.E.A.R.D. method as outlined above.

I understand you want to fire him but I would not do it directly after his cleaning.

Then we say things like “I don’t think we are able to meet your needs, however, we have a maid service we can recommend to you (who I have already called and warned).  I really want what is best for you, and I just don’t think we can help you.”

How to let difficult clients go:

  • Hate Them: We have to double our rates to make sure we’re getting everything done the home requires
  • Okay With Them: Work with them gently. We’re happy to continue helping, however, we may need to cut a few services to keep you at the same price or add a few to continue delivering the same level of clean everytime
  • Love Them: Costs went up but we’re willing to work with you if we cut services

Firing Customers:

Always be honest and direct in a soft handed way when trying to get a client off the schedule.

Script talking points:

  • We love having you as a client.
  • I’m sorry we haven’t been working out.
  • We’ll NEVER drop you as a client… BUT I’m not sure we’re going to be the best fit moving forward.
  • I’d suggest trying THIS COMPANY for THIS REASON.

Written out script:

I don’t think we are able to meet your needs, however, we have a maid service we can recommend (who we’ve already called and warned).  I really want what is best for you, and I just don’t think we can help.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Make this interaction authentic. Do research and figure out who the best company would be for them.
    • If we took to long The Perfectionist since they use teams of 4.
    • If we couldn’t honor a unique request refer them to an individual like Veronica.
  • Call the company we’re referring to beforehand and give them a heads up on why we’re referring the client so they can avoid the pitfalls we fell into. If we make a bad referral it reflects poorly on us too.

Giving refunds

Anyone can approve a refund if they think it’s necessary to make a customer happy and avoid a bad review. However, there are a few things we need to do to make sure this doesn’t bite us later.

Once we’re able to walk a customer off the edge and find a resolution. Before the refund can be given, it’s important to get them to sign a contract.

This contract is very simple and states they agree to the resolution we worked out and won’t post about the discrepancy on social media.

This is important given, in the past 3 months, we’ve had two one-star reviews from clients who we’d already done everything we could for. This contract would give us some legal footing if we wanted to sue to get a review removed.

These contracts can be easily sent easily via DocuSign. Once we get to the point where we’re ready to give a refund let your manager know so we can work on getting the contract out to the customer.

When Do We Need a Contract?

The contract isn’t necessary for small disagreements or partial refunds.

If a customer was really upset and we’re worried they’ll write a negative review in the future OR if we’re giving a full refund and not working with the customer anymore we should use this contract.

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