The Smart Service Dispatch

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March 4, 2021


How to Manage Customer Complaints About Your Plumbing Business

No matter how good your service, you'll still get the odd customer complaint. Find out how to handle unhappy campers.

In a competitive industry like plumbing, reputation is everything. Building and maintaining your reputation involves doing quality plumbing work, but customer service plays a powerful role as well. A happy customer will provide you with valuable word-of-mouth advertising and repeat business. On the other hand, an unhappy customer might drag your company name through the dirt.

Sometimes you might feel like you do everything in your power to provide good customer service, yet still end up with a one-star review. What gives? And how should you manage customer complaints about your plumbing business before the negativity scares away new potential clients? Here are some helpful tips to get you navigate this conundrum.

1. Minimize client dissatisfaction with customer-centric values.

First things first; are you giving your customers a reason to be unhappy? As a business owner or manager, you should incorporate customer-centric values into the processes of your company. Focus on the customers and do what makes their lives easy, not necessarily what makes things easy for your company. For example, you might prefer to receive phone calls, but your customers may prefer to send an email, reach you on social media, or even text you. You should therefore remain receptive to all these contact methods, even if you’d prefer a simpler system.

Similarly, no one likes an 8-hour arrival window. Do your best to keep your customers up-to-date on when you’ll arrive at their location. This allows your clients to continue with their lives until they need to meet you. Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to provide these solutions to your customers, and doing so can set you apart from the competition in the best way possible.

Don’t forget that you need to provide quality plumbing solutions and have a friendly, patient, and positive demeanor when interacting with your clients in person. Go over your entire process with a fine-toothed comb to pinpoint ways in which it could improve, and don’t forget to train your team on all changes your company makes.

2. Try to handle dissatisfied clients before they go public.

All businesses can benefit from a simple post-service customer survey to gauge their performance. You can choose to send your survey through snail mail or email, or even conduct it over the phone. This builds your reputation by demonstrating that you care about customer satisfaction. It also helps you collect valuable feedback.

But once you receive a complaint, you have to take it seriously. If someone says it was a hassle to get you on the phone, you need to rethink your communications process. If someone says your crew left a mess in their home, you need to extend your apologies and retrain your team on site clean-up. It’s true that some people are extraordinarily difficult to please, but if you inform the client that their feedback resulted in change, you’ll instantly earn more respect.

Being on the receiving end of a rant is never fun, but you should always keep your business’ reputation in mind and respond cordially. Check your ego and stay humble. If you made a mistake, own up to it. If you need to send a technician back to correct a mistake, do so. If you need to offer a refund, do that too. If you would like to defend your company’s actions, try to do so in a calm manner so as to not escalate the situation.

However, when someone is truly upset, they won’t wait for your survey in order to alert you to the problem. Some people go straight to the internet to post negative reviews.

3. Politely reply to public reviews.

Receiving a one-star review that says nasty things about your company and your team will probably cause you to feel a mix of emotions, including shock, anger, and even panic. After all, what if other people read that review, believe it, and then decide not to call you? 

Take heart; you have the opportunity to reply to reviews on most platforms. Sometimes when an angry client receives a rebuttal from the company owner, they take down their review. But even if they don’t, everyone else who reads your reply will instantly come to see you as a calm, rational, level-headed, and fair business owner… as long as that’s how you write the review. If you reply to a rant with your own vitriol, you won’t do your plumbing business any favors. 

To begin, you can say something like, “I’m sorry you feel this way,” then give your side of the story (trying to stick to the facts). Finish up by encouraging anyone who is still in doubt about your company’s customer service to contact you directly with their concerns. This puts the power back in your hands and settles the matter. Then, as difficult as it may be, try to forget about the bad review. It happens, and most people know to take those bad reviews with a grain of salt.