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Mar
23

The Client Contract – Unwritten But Essential

In A Cleaning Business The Client Contract Is Unwritten But Essential

Those of you who have read other articles I have written on customer service will know that I believe that the customer is always right. Even when they are wrong, they are always right. A cleaning business is a place of strong relationships and trust, and as part of this the customer is always right.

There is no point in making someone wrong and even proving it with all the facts at your fingertips. It makes them feel like they have made a mistake and often they will blame you for making them feel that way because you have shown them the errors they have made. It is not a good thing to do because they are likely to go somewhere else for their services instead of coming back to you again.

There are however at least two situations where you may need to show the customer they are not correct.

The first one is where there is a major discrepancy in the accounting. If you believe they have not paid you for your goods or services, then you have the right to make your case and prove to the customer that they have missed payment. After all you are in business to earn a living and make money, so I believe you have the right to state your case clearly.

Don’t use this approach over a few dollars however. It is not in your best interests to make a case over a simple error that will not make much difference to your bottom line. Just make sure it does not happen to you again. You might let one instance of a small amount go through, but I hope you would be more wary, especially if it happens more than that. That is a coincidence you don’t want to repeat. If it happens a third time it becomes a pattern.

The second situation where it is relevant to stand up for yourself is in the unfortunate case where there is abuse. If there is a matter at issue that needs to be resolved keep the customer on side. Do not get angry or take offence as far as possible.

But when the customer starts to make it personal and becomes abusive it is time to change tack and retreat. It is at this point that the contract between customer and you is at an end or at least suspended. They have crossed the line.

There is an unwritten contract between client and service provider that is about being mutually respectful. By not making them wrong you are upholding that contract. When there is a dispute that deteriorates into abuse that contract is broken and the rules are gone.

In this situation it is important for your reputation that you do not indulge yourself and take part in a slanging match. If you do, it will be all over town by morning. You need to walk away from the situation, and never go back. If you have to leave behind the money for the service, do it. Any client who starts to abuse you is not worth the money. If the client contacts you again and apologises, asking you to return (is that likely?) then you need to make a judgement call as to whether you want to go back there again, and whether the situation might recur or not. You are in my opinion perfectly entitled never to go back if you have the least doubt. As I always say, you are not desperate.

It really is a relationship between yourself and the customer.

This breaking of the rules has other forms as well. Any form of sexual approach that is unwelcome is an example. Treating you with disdain while pretending to be civil is a borderline call.

We once had a client whose husband clearly resented our being in the house. He would come home from work when we were there, and once he left our money in the peanut jar! (He thought he was being clever, and being dumb cleaners we wouldn’t get the point.) In the end we had no choice but to leave. It seems the only person who was going to clean his house was the wife.

These examples are just some of the situations that can arise and start to break the contract between you both. If you are starting to feel like you are not being respected, honour the feeling, and find what is happening to break the trust. If you find you have not been living up to the contract yourself you will need to take steps to rectify the problem, and quickly, starting with an apology.

But if the break-down is coming from the other side you have the right to walk away. Do it with dignity and your reputation will not be hurt. The contract has been broken.