There is a right way and a wrong way to respond to bad customer feedback. Here are the steps you can take to choose the right way.

If you run a business of any kind, bad customer feedback comes with the job. From restaurants to commercial cleaning to auto repair, there’s no way to avoid an unhappy customer forever. Sometimes it’s deserved, and sometimes it isn’t. 

There are numerous reasons for that bad feedback. As much as we all try to do a great job, sometimes our work falls short of expectations. Sometimes it’s a matter of miscommunication – you don’t understand your customer’s needs, and the customer doesn’t understand your process or work. And indeed, some customers will never be happy no matter what. 

As painful as listening to bad customer feedback may be, it can be even more challenging to hear after your team has completed their work and you or a supervisor followed up with a cleaning inspection. At that point, your commercial cleaning company has had at least two sets of eyes on the job. How do you respond?

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Bad Customer Feedback

What to do with bad customer feedback in 5 steps (even after a cleaning inspection)

Before we get into the post-inspection part, let’s take a step back and think about how we respond to any bad customer feedback. 

1. Listen. So often, bad customer feedback can be partially resolved just by listening to the complaint. Whether they are right or wrong, you can make a lot of headway by listening attentively to your customer. Even with angry or upset customers, listening calmly is often enough to bring the situation to a point where you can work toward a solution. 

2. Assess The Issue. What is your customer approaching you with? Something minor, like leaving a dustpan out, is an easy fix. If the issue is more serious or an emergency, like spilled cleaning chemicals, you may need to jump into action. 

3. Fix The Issue. One of the primary goals for anyone in a service-related industry is to provide excellent customer service. If a problem arises, it doesn’t matter to the customer why it happened; they just want it fixed. You can worry about why it happened later. How you correct the problem depends on the severity of the issue and whether the feedback is in person or through a phone call or email. In any case, do your best to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. 

4. Apologize. Like listening, a simple apology can go a long way in bringing everyone’s energy to a place of understanding. And to be clear, an apology is not an admission of wrongdoing, nor is it a chance to shift the blame. For example, “I’m sorry you didn’t understand” is not the same as “I’m sorry we didn’t explain the process better.”

5. Accept Responsibility. If you get bad customer feedback, one of the worst things you can do is blame the issue on someone else. You’re the boss; therefore, it’s ultimately your responsibility. Blaming your employees, a staff shortage, equipment problems, or the customer for an issue only makes you look difficult and defensive. Moreover, it hurts your standing as a reputable organization.

Of course, there are times when bad feedback is entirely off base. However, even if the customer is as wrong as wrong can be, you can still listen to them. You can still try to fix the issue if you choose, and you can accept responsibility and apologize. (I’m sorry the service didn’t meet your expectations. It seems like we aren’t the right fit for your needs. You might try company X, as they are well-regarded for their marble floor cleaning.)

What to do about complaints after a cleaning inspection

The above steps all work for most bad customer feedback, but what happens when your team has done their job, and you’ve already performed an inspection and found that everything looks good?

All the previous steps still apply. Listen to the feedback and assess the situation. What are your customer’s expectations? Are you both clear on your duties and to what extent your team can provide the requested services?

You may need to do some investigating. Since cleaning inspections should catch anything your team missed, you may need to review the inspection process. 

Could your inspections be more detailed? Are you using the right tools for an inspection? (Hint: Janitorial Manager’s Inspection app is super helpful.) Does your team need additional training on the work, the checklists, or the inspection process? 

Again, one of the most important things you can do with bad customer feedback is listen and take responsibility. In many cases, constructive feedback can help your business improve and grow. Even if it isn’t easy to hear, these moments are potentially some of the best opportunities you’ll have to improve. 

Many unhappy customers will just move on to another service and not bother to talk to you about their dissatisfaction. Treasure those who share with you. They are potentially some of the best business coaches out there, even if it’s unintentional. 

Harness the advantages of Janitorial Manager to enhance your inspection process. Schedule a free discovery call and find out how a streamlined inspection process can increase your client retention rate!