Nightmare customers Top tips for tradesmen

Dealing with customer complaints

Is there anything as frustrating as customer complaints? You’ve worked all day and done a good job, but there are always those who will find something to complain about.

First of all, let’s be clear about the difference between a reasonable complaint and a whining for the sake of it complaint. If you bodge a job, you don’t really have a leg to stand on if somebody throws some complaints in your direction – in fact, you probably deserve it. 

Whining for the sake of it complaints are different and we all know we people who do it. Some just seem to enjoy complaining. I know that sounds ridiculous, but give me a better theory? As much as we’d often love nothing more than to tell these people to sod off and get a life, that’s not always advisable – especially if you want to keep your job.  

What kind of complaint is it?  

The first question to ask is, is it reasonable? If it’s a reasonable complaint and you’ve missed or forgotten something, then just get on with. It might be frustrating to have to go back over something, but that’s part of your job.

Things get a bit more complicated if you know that the reason for their complaining is absurd. This is, of course, subjective, one person’s reasonable complaint might sound ridiculous to somebody else, but generally, if you’ve worked in the trades for a while you can tell the difference.  

Is there anything you can do?

If somebody starts ranting that you’ve left ⅛ of a footprint on their clean tiles you can offer to go and clean it all up. Almost always they tend to see sense in what they’re saying and decide that making you scrub off something that measures 1.5 inches across sounds ludicrous. 

Would an apology help?

Look, nobody likes apologising for something that they don’t feel they need to. And even worse, apologising for something that you know is somebody else’s fault. Let’s be honest, it’s damaging to your pride and integrity and you might loathe the idea of saying those two little words that often make all of the difference – I’m sorry.

That’s not to say you should just blindly apologize for everything, but just think that sometimes we need to bite the bullet for the sake of trying to maintain a healthy atmosphere. 

Have you explained the process?

People often don’t really understand what the process is going to look like, instead, they just imagine the finished article. They don’t know that their kitchen is going to like Robert Downey Jr’s stag do before it looks like the shining example in the IKEA catalogue. A lot of complaints come from a lack of clarity, so it’s always worth outlining everything to them before you start. Then when they complain about the dust, at least you’ve got something to fall back on.

People are People 

The reality is that some people will always find something to complain about – it’s in their nature. We can discuss why they feel like that, but I think that’s enough for a whole blog in itself. Difficult people are part and parcel of the job and something you need to learn how to do with.