Two realities; #1. I’m not a psychologist or anything close enough to give me authority in this field. That said, I’ve been dealing with (and you as well if you’ve done pest control for any length of time) difficult people & criticism for years. In fact, my very first account was a ‘difficult’ person and I learned a valuable lesson from day one.
#2. Pest control IS a complaint business. It’s been that way from the beginning of time and regardless of the advancements, catered approaches or painstaking time it takes to educate– I just don’t see this changing anytime soon. Do you?
So my goal in this writing isn’t to give you a silver bullet. (there isn’t one) Nor do I have all the answers. (some things just don’t come with answers as you’ll see) Instead, I’m just putting out a few observations I’ve had over the last few decades and while I don’t think these will cause you to be best buds with a difficult customer, perhaps one or two might just help you win him or her over and hopefully avoid an unnecessary cancelation.
Praise & criticism can be windows to the soul. ie; if all you get is negative this and critical that whenever you enter the account. Be prepared each time you service and keep this in the back of your mind… Some people in this world are just cynical, just glass 1/2 empty types, sourpusses—NEGATIVE…In that light think this….. this person had the problem before I walked in, I might not be that bad.
Criticism often reveals a clients deepest insecurities. ie; If I had a nickel for every comment about someone dying of poisoning just because I entered a room, I’d easily have enough for a sweet new decked out termite truck. Or that lady with visions of massive roach invasions who’s berating me that I’m not doing enough, all because she saw one or two in the garage. What’s really going on here? Refer to #1 above but hey, it is so many times just critical remarks born of fear, paranoia or (hopefully) wrong teaching. Now I can ‘sort of’ combat wrong teaching if someones willing to learn. The other two conditions?, not so much. That said, I can deal MUCH better with all three when I see it from this perspective and not as something personal.
Response to criticism is, eh ehmm, Critical. ie; There is a proverb that says “a soft answer turneth away wrath”, another says “a fool uttereth all his mind while a wise man keepeth it till afterwards.” Both are so correct, I only wish I had the wisdom to know when to apply one over the other. Just remember, critical words even though sharp and directed right at you, are seldom personal. If you can remember this, your response most always will be right. Too often we revert to the survival mentality of “Fight or Flight”. While both have their place, you’ll ALWAYS be wrong if you do this because you’re offended and reacting to the clients harshness, this almost always produces bad results.
Fight Is Correct when either the client is only critical because they are trying to help or they are willing to change because there is some missing information. Oh & hey, when someones right, they’re just right…Score two for the good guys, one for them for pointing it out & one for you to receive in a humble manner… Ps… when I say ‘fight’ I don’t mean confrontational per se..just you sticking up for yourself or the results of your actions — it’s the opposite of flight (see below) but not AT ALL an argument or verbal fisticuffs.. more over a discussion, discourse or even a negotiation. At times YES-you have to be stern.
Flight Is Correct when, in your wisdom, you can see no positive change coming with a dialogue and so for the good of the situation, checking account or company (hopefully yours) you eat the preverbal excrement sandwich. It doesn’t always end up that way & I in no wise think someone should beat up on another…it’s just sometimes best to say “yes Ma’am, or yes Sir” and live to fight another day……I know this is a sticking point for many of you right now and believe me-I’ve eaten more of those sandwiches than my pride wants to admit. But Hey, the check still cashes regardless of the attitude when written right? As long as your license or safety isn’t a concern– consider ‘flight’ as a viable conflict resolution tool.
Unlikely sources criticize too but it’s most often invalid. ie; I’ve had plenty of accounts that were the nicest folks and got along just fine for years who have ‘snapped’ at me when I feel I hadn’t done anything wrong at all. Most times it’s “invalid criticism” and simply dismissing it is the best answer. So many times you later find out that customer had some emotional things going and was wounded in some way– Just remember..”Hurt people, hurt people.” Not always true but something to consider before snapping back…usually a good time for the “flight” rule here.
Lastly—You can please some of the people some of the time…. hmmm, can’t remember the rest of how that saying go’s….. Oh well, like I said, I’m not a psychologist, so rather than harbor on it, I think I’ll just,,,,, walk away, knowing I did my best for you in this service I provided. I trust it’ll help.