How To Respond to Negative Janitorial Reviews
Submitted by Janitorial Manager
Is one of your clients unhappy with your janitorial customer service? Think twice before responding online.
Despite always giving it your best effort, it’s likely that at some point, at least one client will have criticisms of your janitorial customer service that they’ll be happy to post online. This can be frustrating, especially if the negative review isn’t warranted, but reacting without thinking has a high potential for making the situation even worse. Tempers can flair on both sides, but you’ll likely be the one to lose out if you don’t conduct yourself in a professional and courteous manner.
Still, negative janitorial customer service reviews shouldn’t be left unanswered. If someone was unhappy enough with your service to publicly call it out, you have a responsibility to publicly demonstrate the actual quality of your business. You may not win back the dissatisfied customer, but you’ll show others that the complaint had to do with a one-time situation and that poor customer service isn’t your standard operating procedure — something that’s at least partially proven simply by the fact that you took the time to respond.
So how do you respond to negative janitorial customer service reviews online without jeopardizing your business or client base? Here are some tips for effective, civilized responses that show that excellent customer service is an ongoing company goal you expect everyone to reach regularly.
1. Practice empathy
Whether or not the miffed customer is correct, it’s important as a business owner for you to see the situation from their perspective. Do they have a point? And if not, what might have caused them to leave the bad review? Try to understand where they’re coming from. This can be hard to do since you’re not having a conversation with someone in real-time. (Pro-tip: If you can call the person directly before responding online, that’s a great option.) Still, if it’s a detailed review, you should be able to glean enough from it to practice empathy and put yourself in their shoes.
2. Don’t wait to respond
As soon as you become aware of a negative review, conduct a quick investigation if necessary and respond as quickly as you can. Doing so demonstrates that you care about your customers and their experiences and that you’d like to acknowledge and rectify the situation. Letting a negative review go unanswered and grow stale not only suggests that you don’t have time for your customers, but it also allows an unhappy person stew over something that at the very least should have been addressed even if the customer was in the wrong. Even if you only respond that you’re sorry for their bad experience and that you’re looking into it, that can go a long way towards making amends.
3. Keep it professional
Many of us have seen online interactions go sour quickly, especially on social media. People forget what started the conflict and start hurling accusations or worse at each other. This would be a big no-no, especially if the concern were about janitorial customer service in the first place. The only way you should ever respond to anyone online, especially to someone unhappy with what you’ve provided, is to remain professional and respectful at all times. Apologize for their bad experience, even if it wasn’t your fault, and tell them how much you appreciate their feedback and business. If the review is particularly bad, this could involve a lot of biting your tongue, but that’s the best way to ensure that the situation doesn’t escalate to something much worse for you and your business.
That said, be sure to be authentic when you respond. Keep it professional, but don’t lay it on too thick, which might come across as insincere or artificial.
4. Identify yourself
Unhappy customers who leave reviews presumably hope that said reviews will reach the eyes of someone at the company who can make a difference. When you respond, identify yourself as the business owner or manager so that the dissatisfied customer knows that not only is a real person listening and responding, but it’s someone who will take corrective action should it be necessary. If nothing else, it’s someone who cares enough to listen to what the customer has to say. This is a simple, easy way to help turn an unhappy customer into a happy customer.
5. Be fair to the customer but true to your business
Apologizing for the bad experience doesn’t mean you have to take responsibility for it if it wasn’t your fault or the fault of anyone on your team. That doesn’t mean you should deny the negative experience that eliminates empathy from the situation. Still, it does mean that if someone has posted something unfairly about you, you have a right to explain your position. Of course, suppose someone in your organization did do something wrong. In that case, it’s appropriate to take full responsibility and offer a way to rectify the situation, but if not, don’t let the world think that you’ve made a mistake. Gently expound on your point of view and move on.
6. Only respond once
If you’ve responded to a negative janitorial customer service review and the unhappy customer replies back, don’t get caught in an online back-and-forth that will likely make you look worse than the customer. If someone wants to discuss things further, offer them the option of a phone call, but steer clear of getting involved in an online debate.
7. Extend an olive branch
You can also help avoid online debates or additional responses by offering in your first response to jump on a call to understand the situation better. This takes the conversation offline, which is the most important component to resolving an issue like this. Not only that, but it allows both of you to listen to and understand one another without reading into something too much or the wrong way. The result may still be a dissatisfied client, but at least you’ll show that you wanted to make things right.
A compassionate, thoughtful response to negative reviews can go a long way in helping your commercial cleaning business gain a reputation for excellent janitorial customer service, which is always good for business.