The 4-Step Process That Solves Almost Any Issue
If you’ve been running a home renovation company for a few years or more, you’ve likely dealt with an unhappy remodeling client or two along the way. No matter how good your products and service, no home improvement contractor is perfect.
Also, perfection aside, there are some clients that are just plain hard to please (and that’s the nicest way to put it!).
Whether an unhappy client is because of mistake your company made, or because of an extremely demanding client, there is a 4-part framework that can work to solve almost any complaint.
Managing unhappy clients is crucial in today’s marketplace. Even one scathing online review can have a very negative impact on your business, so solving problems to the satisfaction of ALL your clients is in your best interest.
Step 1: Take Your Own Emotions Out Of It
The very first thing to do – and it can be hardest – is to take your own emotions out of it. This step is the foundation for the other 3 parts of the process.
If you’re client is unhappy, they’re usually going to have some strong emotions from their side. Maybe not screaming and red-faced (let’s hope not, anyway!), but certainly enough emotion to create a larger issue.
If both sides get emotional, the chances for thoughtless comments, misunderstandings, and escalation go up significantly.
Controlling your own emotions can be difficult. You might be upset with your team if they let you down. You might be upset with yourself for poor follow-up or letting something slip through the cracks. Or you might just be plain annoyed with an unfair client’s nit-picking.
Don’t give in to the upset or emotions. Put yourself in scientific, problem-solving mode. You can analyze how it happened and how to prevent it later.
Step 2: Actually LISTEN.
The very best way to get into problem-solving mode is to REALLY listen to what your unhappy client is telling you about their home renovation project.
If you understand their issue right away, you might be tempted to cut them off and get right to telling them what you’re going to do. Resist the temptation. Let them have their full say, with just an occasional small comment to let them know you are engaged in the conversation.
Listen to it all to get a complete understanding of ALL issues. You don’t want to solve one problem only to find out there are others. Also, sending the signal that you are willing to fully hear them out starts to take some of the resentment out of their unhappiness.
Once they are done, repeat back to them in summary form the issues. This shows that you heard them and understand. Now move to the next step.
Step 3: Decide On The Appropriate Response
This step is the ‘moment of truth.’ What are you going to do to turn this around?
If you and your team clearly did something wrong, that makes for the most straightforward response.
First, simply apologize. The word ‘sorry’ can often be the pivot point to a much better outcome. Next, tell them how you are going to make it right, and give a realistic timeframe for making the corrections.
But what do you do if you feel the unhappy client is wrong? Maybe they have a small point but they’re blowing it completely out of proportion. Or maybe, after listening to them, you’re sure they don’t have a legitimate gripe.
In these cases, you need to decide whether “being right” is more important than solving the problem. If it will not cost you much in time or material, you should choose to do what it takes to have a happy client, regardless of whether it is perfectly just.
The overall health of your business makes it worth it to take care of it.
But what about if it will take a lot of extra time and material and you feel it is outside the scope of what was promised?
In a calm, neutral voice, clearly explain your position. Don’t get fancy about it, just honestly talk to the client. Hopefully, this will lead to more dialogue, and perhaps a compromise.
One last tip: if you’re unsure of how to respond in the moment, delay for time. Do this by asking to come see them in person at a time convenient for them. This will give you a chance to inspect the situation first-hand, and gives you a little breathing room as you decide on the best way to resolve.
Step 4: Do What You Promised!
Obviously, if you already have an unhappy client, delaying on what you promised is the worst thing you can do. Still, it’s human nature to want to avoid any further unpleasantness, so it does happen.
Don’t let it happen in your business. Make it a priority to do what you promised in a very timely way, and in the exact way you said you would.
Anytime you have an unhappy home renovation client, use this 4-step framework. Many times, you can turn it around and end with a very satisfied homeowner. At the very least, this will keep the problem from growing into something much worse.