What Good is a Complaining Client?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by GroundKprs, May 20, 2003.

  1. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,969

    If you're not walking around with a chip on your shoulder, a customer complaint is a learning experience. Perhaps for both you and the customer! If you have done something wrong in the client's eye, you must open-mindedly assess the complaint.

    Look at it from the client's view. How many of you, on a new lawn, will look at that beautiful mowing job from the truck, and pat yourself on the back? But did you walk up the drive, crouched down, viewing the lawn as the customer sees the lawn as she/he drives in? Did you look at your job from the front door, back door, sunporch, deck, patio, etc.? Only then will you see the job as the client sees it. I have even asked to come inside to determine how to prune plants near windows (they don't want windows blocked, but do they want to see hint of plant in that window? Some do, some don't.)

    A customer request or complaint is the best way to learn. Too many here automatically take it as an insult. For my first 5-10 years in business, I built my business on complaints and requests. Mr B asked me to get rid of the weeds in the walk, now 20+ years later, I make 100s of dollars a year in crack and crevice weed control. New clients always want it, and I only learned by responding to Mr B. Where would I be if I just blew him off?

    But perhaps the customer's complaint is not valid. Then you still need to understand his perception. I have explained nuances about turf to many people, so they understand why I am doing what I do. The best one is the complaint about how good the lawn across the street looks compared to his. That is an easy one: we just walk across the street and stand in that lawn. He looks down, then looks at the beautiful lawn that is his across the street. Then I explain the what the real function of ornamental turf is to them - it is to look good from a distance, not right on top of it.

    Listen to your clients. The day you don't need to listen any more is the day your business is starting down hill.
     
  2. Good point. I was thinking about this just the other day. We tend to think about all the details we covered. But all the customers seem to notice is the little details we miss. Much as I hate it, I'll get the weed-whacker out again and polish as needed.
     
  3. AztlanLC

    AztlanLC LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,046

    Very nice post, this is the things that make this forum so great.

    What I always tell my employees is this.

    Pretned this is you house, pretend you are the owner of each property you take care of, how would you like things to be done?, stand in the porch and imagine your weekend, how are you going to react if you see a miss spot?, how are you going to react if you see your car, siding, walk, or chairs full of clipping? what about something broken or missing? what about a bed full of clipping or weeds?
    Put love in your work, and anything that you do.
    put yourself in the owner shoes, he hire us because he has no time or he wants things to be done better that he does, or whetever reason he has.
    Put love in your work, and anything that you do.

    Then he'll be happy to pay his bill at the end of the month and I'll be happy to give you a paycheck, and I make sure you'll be happy on how much you are making.
     
  4. Turf Dancer

    Turf Dancer LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 681

    All valid points !!! There are two sides to every coin! It is all in each persons view and their perception of what they are looking at. I am at a point right now that is a similar situation. I am trying to narrow down to the exact two mowers I want to buy. I will first buy a wb and then a ZTR! over about a 4 month period. I can't get a demo from the dealers who sell the machines I am looking at buying ! So in my view they suck ! But to them hey they are selling 200 + commercial mowers a year so they say ! So why should they go out of their way to demo a machine to me ? They could care less !
    It is all in each individuals perception at the time !
     
  5. Harry0

    Harry0 LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Posts: 223

    Most complaints I admit are legit and have to be handled. You should look at these as a challenge and a learning experience. But I've learned also that some people are never happy. I take complaints personal and if I have a constant complainer I would say somthing like" You are not happy with our service and I beleive we should end our services and you should find another company that will fit your needs better".In other words you fire them!-What a releif! Then you find out the company who took over the account and trade horror stories-Seriously though it saves alot of trouble stress and aggravation weeding out your headache customers-Not your anal demanding customers they are the challenges. -Harry
     
  6. Tharrell

    Tharrell LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,964

    Good point but, shouldn't be anything new. Most everything in life revolves around seeing things from anothers perspective.
     
  7. roscioli

    roscioli LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 749

    Good post, remember, its not all about quantity, quality is far more important in many aspects.
     
  8. Green Pastures

    Green Pastures LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,457

    Excellent post!

    There is a right way to voice complaints and a wrong way though.
     
  9. Gravely_Man

    Gravely_Man LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,075

    All customer complaints have to be dealt with or you will be perceived as someone who not only caused the complaint but are now non-responsive as well. All customers have to be handled differently, have special needs that need to be meet, want to feel like they are getting a good return on their investment in your company and want to feel as if they are special.


    Gravely_Man
     
  10. Gr grass n Hi tides

    Gr grass n Hi tides LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,020

    Yup, great post.

    I see complaints as an opportunity to turn a situation around and have a positive impact. This is not limited to lawn care clients. When someone voices a complaint, look at yourself and what you are doing through their eyes. You're certain to learn something.
     

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