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3 Simple Steps to Help Construction Companies Neutralize Online Complaints

May 28, 2019 Anthony Priwer

Successful construction companies understand that building a good reputation is just as important as building good properties. Consistently keeping clients satisfied is a greater challenge in the construction industry than in some other sectors, simply because a building is such a complex product with so many things, big and small, that could potentially go wrong.

B2B construction clients tend to be more understanding and less publicly critical than are B2C clients, which means home builders that sell directly to home buyers need to be particularly vigilant about reputation management. This includes following best practices for dealing with any online complaints posted on social media and review platforms. Here are three easy steps to help prevent any lasting damage to your brand.Neutralizing online complaints

1. Publicly acknowledge the complaint

If a client posts negative feedback on, for example, your company’s Facebook page, your first instinct might be to delete it, but often that’s not the best approach, particularly if the post has already gained traction among other users by the time you see it. Also, deleting the feedback can inflame the situation and give the unhappy client ammunition to write a second post, about how you deleted their first. At that point, you may choose to block them, but depending on how aggrieved the client is feeling, they might then decide to post a third time, perhaps using a spouse’s login, and explaining how they’ve been forced to use their spouse’s account because you blocked their own. These dramatic (but avoidable) scenarios aren’t uncommon on new home construction companies’ social media pages, and aren’t a good look for the companies involved. Their other clients, and potential clients, naturally assume the builders have something to hide.

Most potential clients researching your company online will understand that in the complex world of construction, things don’t always go to plan. Yes, they’ll be slightly concerned if they read a negative post, but that concern can be neutralized if they also see that you care about the complaint and are promptly addressing it. This will give the potential client peace of mind that if they choose you as their builder and a problem ever arises, they’ll be similarly looked after. 

So, we generally advise our construction clients to publicly acknowledge any online complaint with words to the effect of: “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We pride ourselves on client satisfaction, so we’re disappointed to hear about your experience. We’ve sent you a private message to try to resolve your issue.”           

2. Address the complaint offline

We generally advise our construction clients to publicly acknowledge any online complaint

 

Once you’ve publicly acknowledged the client’s complaint, take the conversation offline so that any “dirty laundry” is aired in private, rather than on a public-facing website. Send the client a private message or email, and then start work on trying to achieve a mutually agreeable resolution.     

Such is the nature of construction that you won’t always be able to turn the client into a happy customer, but if you’ve done all you reasonably can to address their issue, the complaint is more likely to stay offline thereafter.   

3. Manage client expectations

If you undersell and overdeliver, you’ll reduce the likelihood of a client complaint happening in the first place. This may not always be possible in a competitive environment where you need to offer more than rival companies to win business. You should, though, still be able to properly inform clients about the finer details of your offerings, and manage their expectations to avoid potential misunderstandings that might lead to a complaint later.

Client misconceptions about contracts and, especially, warranties commonly lead to client complaints in the construction industry. Make sure, therefore, that your sales and project management teams clearly communicate to clients and potential clients exactly what they’re signing up for, or not signing up for. That way, if a purchasing decision they’ve made in full knowledge subsequently becomes problematic for them, they’ll feel less to write a negative online post.     

If your construction company is looking to improve its reputation management processes, click here to read more about the comprehensive PR services offered by the Bradford Group’s commercial real estate and construction division.  

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