How to Deal with Customer Complaints


Tips to handle on-the-job mistakes.


  • No person—or painter—is perfect. When mistakes inevitably happen, deal with them correctly to create a lifelong customer rather than an unhappy one who’s eager to spread the bad word. Here’s how:

    Face the problem promptly.


    Ignoring the problem, delaying action or insisting it’s not a big deal will only make matters worse. Instead, think of the complaint as an opportunity. Many upset customers don’t tell you they’re upset, but instead simply and silently choose another company in the future (and not-so-silently complain to others). Seize this chance to make things better and don’t blame others. If you are unsure about a solution, ask someone; consider talking to your manufacturer’s rep, sales rep, distributor or store rep. Don’t guess.

    Take ownership of the problem


    Don’t get defensive, try to explain away your customer’s unhappiness, or, worse yet, get angry. Really take in what’s being said. Ask questions. Pinpoint the real problem, and repeat it back to the customer, to be sure you understand it correctly. Empathize. Apologize. Make it clear that you both have the same goal—a quality paint job—and that you’re committed to doing what it takes to make sure that goal gets met.

    Fix the problem.


    Talk to the customer about possible solutions. Ask if he or she has any in mind, and/or offer your own. Once you agree on something, make sure the fix happens quickly and properly, and check back to make sure. If there’s no easy fix, consider offering a percentage off a future job. If you end up taking a hit, think of it this way: Better to lose a little now than suffer the long-term cost of a damaged reputation and/or dwindling future job possibilities.

    Get to the root of the problem.


    Mistakes are an unavoidable part of the business, but that shouldn’t stop you from doing all you can to prevent them. Analyze why this one happened and take steps to try and ensure that it doesn’t happen in the future. Make the permanent switch to a better-performing masking tape, gather the team for a hands-on demo or send out a note clarifying company policies. Treat this problem as a valuable opportunity for improvement.

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