Positive Feedback Tips
There are times when your water restoration jobs end up receiving negative feedback from a customer, even when you have followed the proper procedures to dry out or clean the structure and have given the highest quality customer service. It’s accepted that you aren’t going to be able to satisfy everyone and negative feedback is basically expected from a customer that has been disappointed by the experience.You may wonder if it is even possible for a customer who failed to get the solution they were looking for to not only say they are satisfied but also reflect that publicly such as on a survey, giving a referral or posting a review on one or multiple platforms.
Yes, it can certainly happen! As a result, there’s the potential to generate more revenue and increase profit. I’m going to share some tips for you to use. These are methods that have been successful in turning a negative outcome into a positive experience. I’ve used them myself in the 20 plus years I’ve been involved in the water restoration industry.
Before those tips, let me provide some context to a situation water restoration business owners face when it comes to customer satisfaction.
The effect of both negative and positive feedback in general is due to the implementation of various Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technology systems. CRM is a multi-billion dollar industry that I could go into great detail about but that’s a whole other blog! Likely you are using it in your disaster restoration business in one form or another. In this instance, however, I’m going to simplify it as it relates to this particular topic.
Businesses that are a part of a different industry other than disaster restoration may proliferate the idea of the “customer is always right” as a part of their system. These are usually large companies with the resources to do so. They may provide guarantees or also spend money to grant instant access to the company through call centers or other means. This is in order to provide instant gratification for the customer. It also allows that company to do damage control if necessary and to hopefully appease the customer without escalation.
All of this is to follow their model of a customer-focused system, which is specific to their line of business. This is especially the case for a company that offers a product. Retention and loyalty are what ultimately brings in the profits so customer satisfaction is paramount.
None of us are immune to CRM. Put yourself in the position of the customer. I went to Starbucks a couple of days ago and ordered a hot drink because snow magically happened in the South which made it cold. The order ended up being a cold drink. When I brought it to the attention of the associate, I was none too pleased at the reaction because it wasn’t what I expected to happen. I wanted a heartfelt apology and a promise that the situation would be rectified. Do you know what I got instead? An awkward 30 seconds of blinking and me deciding that it wasn’t worth it to insist on the right order and have to wait. But later I got online and told them what I really thought about the experience.
A Water Damage Company Isn’t A Restaurant….
As soon as a customer has been satisfied though, the demand for satisfaction in another experience tends to increase. Every subsequent experience is expected to be better than the last, especially in the light of technology constantly improving.
Although that type of a system may not fit your disaster restoration company because the success doesn’t necessarily depend on repeat customers, it still has a massive effect on it.
The reason is because, as a result of those systems, consumers have become accustomed to being made to believe that ultimately they are in control of the outcome they desire when they are paying for a product or a service, sometimes irregardless of the actual ability of the company to provide that particular outcome.
Here’s the challenge: For the typical customer, there is no differentiation between industries in terms of comparing service experiences. They want to be satisfied according to the resolution of their choosing.
For instance, if a customer goes to restaurant and is not pleased with either the food or the service, there is an immediate expectation of how the issue is going to be resolved. That could be in the form of an apology, different food, a refund or some other type of compensation. Once those expectations have been met, the customer is less likely to leave negative feedback.
Now, suppose that same customer has a water heater flood the house a couple of days later. When that customer calls or is referred to your disaster restoration business, they expect any dissatisfaction with their experience to be rectified in the manner that seems fit to them in exactly the same way the restaurant did even if they don’t know a single thing about water mitigation.
So, even if the needs of the situation are met according to proper guidelines, when they’re disappointed because their expectations of resolution were not met, that’s when they are inspired to share that experience in a negative way because they didn’t get what they wanted.
This idea of “the customer always being right” gives the thought that adaptability must be in light of solely pleasing the customer instead of properly performing the service to resolve the issue.
How do you combat this type of mindset and leave the customer feeling they had a positive experience even if it didn’t turn out exactly the way they expected? “Smile and wave…”
Before you launch into what needs to be done, take just a bit of time to acknowledge that this is a disaster for the customer. Their home and belongings have been damaged. They are likely panicked, confused and paranoid about whom to trust.
Assure the customer that what they are experiencing is important to you and that you truly want to help them start the process of getting things back to normal as soon as possible. Let them know that as a professional disaster restoration company, you’re willing to provide the best possible service to make that happen. Every person in the company, whether they step foot on the property or not, should make this clear to customer.
At the end of the job, this is actually what they’ll remember in terms of the experience and not necessarily your performance.
Set Realistic Expectations From the Beginning for Every Step of the Process
Expectations differ from promises. You’ll be held accountable for any promise because you cannot change it. You’ll either fulfill it or you won’t. On the other hand, expectations can be adjusted.
Contributing factors to customer dissatisfaction can be of a lack of understanding of the restoration process and what it entails or what services are actually available. There’s also misinformation that can be gained just by typing a few words in a field or speaking into a device.
Remember that you’re the expert and understand the science and technology behind the mitigation. Make sure that in addition to explaining what you’re going to do, the customer is very clear about your role in the process so there is no misunderstanding about what you’re able to provide and what you cannot provide.
As an example, perhaps initially it seemed as if a material didn’t have to be removed in order to proceed with the mitigation. As the process started, this changed and it became necessary to remove the material. If the proper expectation had been established in the beginning that this was a possibility during the process, the customer may be disappointed. However, since it was explained, they will be less likely to complain as opposed to not knowing what to expect.
Gain Agreement of Issue Resolution
This is the most important tip of all. As mentioned previously, if an issue arises, the customer already has an idea of how they would like it be resolved. This may not be the best resolution for the issue. Also, the steps to the resolution may not necessarily lead to success.
Since this is the case, it’s important to help the customer form the proper mindset for problems that may arise by not only outlining what steps will be taken to resolve the issue but also making sure the customer agrees with it. By having the customer agree with the plan, it gives them the opportunity to raise any concerns about the resolution or to let you know if they don’t understand a part of it so you can address it.
By gaining agreement, if the issue doesn’t get resolved and they are disappointed, that disappointment is less likely to be directed in a negative way because they were fully aware of what could happen. As a matter or fact, resolution agreement coupled with your consistent communication of expectations will serve to build a solid foundation for a positive experience.
Your customer ratings have a profound impact on your disaster restoration business. It’s a powerful resource to generate more revenue. It’s impossible to please everyone but your statistics are greatly improved by turning even a disappointed customer into a raving fan. Check out this article from Forbes magazine in regards to the profitability of consumer satisfaction:
Showing empathy, setting realistic expectations and gaining agreement on issue resolution will help in that regard. The best part is that they’re all free to use so you won’t have to use any of your marketing budget.
Chloe Hudson is a freelance Content Creator based in Georgia. She worked for Champion Cleaning Systems, Inc. and has over 20 years of experience in the disaster restoration industry. She has certification in water, fire and mold restoration and has been involved in most aspects of the industry including being a technician, controlling content manipulation inventory, management, estimating, accounting and reception.