Don’t be fooled. Nobody likes criticism, especially when it is not constructive. Often in the plumbing business, dissatisfied customers will leave seething reviews on Yelp, Google My Business, Better Business Bureau, and other platforms. It’s not that criticism is never warranted. Still, at times simple misunderstandings can lead to exaggerations on the part of the distressed customer and harm the overall reputation of your plumbing company.
Who’s To Blame for Negative Reviews?
Sometimes the plumbing contractor did a poor job and deserved to be criticized. Other times, the issue is more about communication and interpretation than action. For example, if your billing agreement stated one thing, and the customer misinterpreted it, they might blame you for something you had no control over.
It is important to note that many times customers will contact you directly before taking their complaint online. It is best to resolve this dispute immediately so that the negative review is never published. If they do post the review, always keep things professional for the public eye.
Anytime clients disagree over money, your company will hear about it online. We don’t have to tell you why handling your financial terms is imperative, but sometimes customers only hear what they choose. It is crucial to resolve these cases over the phone or in-person rather than in a public online forum.
If your company performs enough jobs, some customers will find your work dissatisfactory. If your plumbing services provide genuine value, such occurrences should be rare. However, even the best plumbers can’t please everyone. The key is to resolve the performance problem if it truly exists. If the customer is making something up, you must try to illustrate why they’re wrong (but never in an online forum).
Sometimes a customer’s complaint has nothing to do with money or performance but with scheduling. We’ve all been there as plumbing companies, noticing a scheduling conflict with our technicians. Your priority should be ensuring best scheduling practices for your customers. If, however, you come across an issue, apologize to the customer and offer to make up for it somehow.
Responding to Negative Reviews
If you can’t resolve a customer dispute over the phone or in person, there is a high likelihood of that person leaving a negative review of your company. Once public, negative sentiment can damage your reputation.
According to a Harvard Business School study, every one-star increase in Yelp rating translates to a 5-9% revenue increase. As you can imagine, losses of star ratings have the opposite impact. So when negative reviews appear, how do you respond? Follow the advice below:
1) Keep it Professional
Use professional language that customers would expect in a business setting. Agitated clients may attempt to engage in a shouting match, and some may even coerce vulgarity or personal attacks. Remember that if you reduce to their discourse, they win the argument, and your company loses.
2) Attempt to Resolve
Inquire about the contact information of the customer to resolve the dispute via telephone or other communication. Your reputation can’t be harmed with a private conversation, especially if you can fix it before they go public. Future clients will never know the conversation occurred.
3) Explain Yourself
Don’t make excuses for poor performance, but explain what happened from your perspective respectfully. Sometimes customers are looking for simple acknowledgment rather than harming your business. However, be careful not to come across as guilty if you didn’t do anything wrong.
4) Offer a Discount
In some cases, offering a discount or refund may be the best long-term strategy. Discounts are especially effective when your company did something wrong, like failing to show up on time or providing subpar services. Sometimes a technician goes rogue, and you’re forced to clean up the mess. A well-intention discount will often do the trick.
5) Don’t Panic
It is important to remember is that one or two negative reviews will not destroy your reputation. The sentiment is even more true if you have built up a collection of positive reviews. Investing in reputation management is so critical for plumbing companies. As you get more plumbing reviews from satisfied customers, it will affect your bottom line favorably.