“I don’t like the color.”
“It just doesn’t look like I was hoping it would.”
“The trim looks messy.”
“I am not satisfied with the work.”
Despite your best efforts and the hard work you put into the job, some clients are never satisfied. This is a universal truth to every service business, not just professional painting. Dealing with difficult customers in a paint business is an unfortunate but necessary part of the business. Whether you did a poor job or the client is simply unable to find satisfaction in your work, sometimes the customer is unhappy and you have to address their concerns head on. Here are five tips for making the best of a bad situation and turning a negative into a positive.
- Listen. If a client expresses an objection to your work, take a moment and say nothing at all. Listen and work to understand their problem. Is the color wrong? The gloss isn’t what they wanted? The texture is uneven? The only way to fix the problem is to clearly understand what the problem actually is. There will be time later to defend your work. Take a moment to simply understand what it is about your work that is making them unhappy.
- Relate. Once you understand why the client is unhappy, try to put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel in their position? If you were excited about a new color or coating and your expectations weren’t met, how would your react? How would you hope the service provider would act to offer a remedy? Once again, don’t worry about who is right or wrong. Instead, put yourself in their position and realize that they are the client and the job isn’t over until they are happy.
- Bridge the gap. Once you understand the problem and have empathized with their position, ask the client what would fix the problem from their perspective. The most outlandish clients will ask that you redo the entire job, which is obviously unreasonable. Is there a middle ground? If you maintain your composure and offer to help make them happy, most clients will work with you to find a solution that is acceptable to you both.
- Go above and beyond. Once the solution or remedy plan has been established, you should go the extra mile in making them happy. If they ask that you repaint a section of trim, can you actually repaint the entire area? If they ask that an entire wall be repainted, can you find the time to repaint the entire room? This is the stage where you have the chance to turn the situation in your favor. Taking the solution that was agreed upon and then going above and beyond to solve all concerns reaffirms your position as a professional offering the highest level of service possible. Clients remember that.
- Leverage the end result. Every service provider deals with unhappy customers, but most miss the opportunity to leverage a negative into a positive. You, however, are smarter than that. After you have listened, after you have empathized and provided a solution that is above and beyond what the client expected, take care not to let your professionalism be dismissed. Point out to the client that while you were sorry to hear they were originally unhappy, you are glad to have fixed the problem and hope that they will remember your extra effort in the future.
If you are in the service business, then you are inevitably going to have clients that push back on the work you have performed. Perhaps they are being unjust and unreasonable, but that doesn’t matter in the slightest. The best thing you can do for the future prospects of your business is to seize on the opportunity to turn dissatisfaction into happiness. In many cases, the best long term clients and sources of referrals originate from clients that were once unhappy but eventually came to be impressed by your professionalism. To learn more tips and tools for providing excellent paint work to your paint business clients, click here!