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How to Handle a Customer Who is Wrong

how to handle a customer who is wrongThat famous phrase, “the customer is always right,” might be amusing to you if you’re a contractor. While a customer may always be right if they’re sitting at a restaurant, a customer who needs HVAC, plumbing, roofing, or other home services can easily be wrong, and dangerously so. You don’t want to let a customer make a bad decision or tell you how to do your job, especially when they don’t realize that they don’t know what they’re talking about. But few people respond well when they are bluntly told that they’re wrong, and doing so may get you bad reviews or just a frustrated customer. Handling a customer who is wrong is a delicate art. Here are our best tips on how to do it well.

1. Listen and Repeat

You can prevent a lot of conflict and escalation with a customer simply by listening to them. Even when they are wrong, people feel better if you’ve heard out their perspective. So, the first thing you should do when you realize a customer is wrong is stop and listen to them.

You should then repeat back what they’ve said so that they felt heard. Try not to be condescending when you do it! Try something like, “You’re concerned I installed the drip edge wrong because you’ve heard it needs to be over the shingles.” Say it as neutrally as you can. When the customer confirms that you understand their concern,then you can work on responding.

2. Keep Empathy in Mind

But, when you’re thinking about your response, try to feel empathetic. While it may be hard to hear from a customer that they think they know more about your work than you, we’ve all been wrong before. The customers who are the most adamant are usually the ones who have been taken advantage of by other contractors. Responding to their concerns well is a great opportunity to restore their trust and to get a very loyal customer.

3. Use Knowledge

“That’s just the way we do it,” is not a very satisfying answer to most customers. The more knowledge you can share with them about why exactly they are wrong, the more confident they will feel that you do know what you’re talking about. Try to delve into the technicalities but do it in a way that you feel your customer will understand. Limit jargon but offer the real explanation. It can be a balancing act and may result in your customer having more questions, but that’s a good sign. Now they’re engaging with you, instead of just telling you.

4. Don’t Withstand Abuse

Sometimes, no matter how much you listen, empathize and explain, customers are irate and become abusive. No job, and no prevention of a bad review, is worth sticking around through abusive behavior. Make it a policy to walk away from people like this and empower your staff to do it too.

6. Finish Up Politely

Most people’s impressions of how a conversation went are made in the last few moments. No matter how rough it started, you can smooth things over with the customer if you end politely and try to talk about something else briefly before you part ways.

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