Uncovering the Service-Industry Blame Game

We’re living at a time when so many people are overwhelmed by being a part of the Digital Age and always having to be “on” that we often hear reminiscence of “the good old days”. There are a plethora of reasons why life seemed simple back in the day. We picked up the landline to make a call, were only expected to work during our official work hours and great service was just expected.

Fast forward to today’s always on mentality and we’ve lost sight of a great conversation, leaving work at work and what it means to get and provide excellent service. We’re part of a society so focused on “me” that we forget that there’s something really rewarding about serving others.

The Simplicity of Service

Google the word “service” and the first result that pops up defines the term as “the action of helping or doing work for someone”. But, these days there seems to be companies less focused on helping and more about just doing the work. Service has changed and it’s about time it gets back to its roots.

A shift in quality service started right before the turn of the century. In the mid to late 90s a movement was started to help consumers find great service-based companies in their area. With the origination of companies like Angie’s List and HomeAdvisor, built on the premise that consumers were getting taken advantage of, there was suddenly a way for everyday people to provide reviews and ratings on companies in the home service industry.

When your toilet started leaking, you had a recommendation for a plumber right at your fingertips. Walls needed a new coat of paint? Don down the road could tell you about his experience using XYZ Company with the push of a button.

So, third-party review companies are a great tool to use when disaster strikes and you have no idea where to turn to pump the gallons of water out of your flooded basement, right? Not so fast. While these recommendations can be helpful, over the last 20 years or so, the system has changed and they’ve become the main source homeowners are using.

Instead of using Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor and other sites in the market for authentic reviews of an experience with a service-provider, some consumers are using the existence of the sites to deliberately damage a company’s reputation. Homeowners understand the power of the negative review are taking advantage of an opportunity to doop service-providers.

Damage Done

John’s garage repair company got a call from Tim, a homeowner in a panic, because his garage door came off the track and his car was stuck inside. Within 45 minutes John deployed a technician to Tim’s house to fix the problem. John’s technician provided Tim with an upfront price of $200 for the job, but once the door was back on the tracks Tim became angry with the technician about the price. He warned the technician that if he didn’t give him a 25% discount, he would leave a terrible review on Angie’s List, leveraging the power of the negative review. Just like the garage door, John’s technician was stuck. He called John and asked him what he should do. Not feeling like he had a choice, John told the technician to go ahead and offer the discount.

Just like that, John’s company was out $50 and he had no idea what kind of damaging review about his company might be left on third-party sites.

Tim gamed the system, just like many homeowners have learned to do. Is it fair? Absolutely not. However, this scenario brings up an underlying problem. Why was it necessary to start these third-party sites in the first place? Somewhere along the line Angie’s List founder, Angie Hicks, and others just like her, felt there was a need for reviews and recommendations of service-providers. Trust amongst homeowners was lost.

Back to the Root of Great  Service

Remember when the cable provider would call an hour before your appointment to confirm he would be there on time?

Remember when the pool guy would show up at your house wearing a shirt with his company’s logo on it (and it wasn’t torn)?

Remember when the plumber put booties on his feet before walking in your house, not because his shoes were dirty, but because he actually respected you and your home?

The bottom-line is the service industry has changed. It’s not fair to say that all companies in the industry have lost sight of great service, but the amount that have is absurd. It’s a serious problem that we, as service providers, need to focus on and overhaul.

It’s time we get back to providing and expecting excellent service. “On-time, expert help” shouldn’t be just an advertisement. It should be an everyday practice. We need to allow third-party resources to do what they were originally meant to do, which is praise excellent service and discourage homeowners from getting into trouble with a terrible provider.

Blackmailing a garage repair company was never the intention of these review sites. Service providers were never supposed to be able to take advantage of homeowners by charging them excessive prices or disrespecting their home. Sadly, things have spiraled out of control.

There’s an important opportunity on both sides of the fence. It’s time to raise the service industry bar and it’s as simple as the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, tells us to treat people the way you want to be treated.

When a consumer hires a company to provide a service for them, the expectation is that company will get the job done the right way, the first time and with a smile on their face. When a company takes on a job with a new client, it’s only fair that the client is respectful and appreciative of the quality service the company provides.

If we all strive to implement the Golden Rule when it comes to service, both parties win. The provider acquires more clients, therefore financially being able to hire and assist more homeowners, and the consumer is the recipient of impeccable service, a trusted company to turn to in the future and an opportunity to make a recommendation the good old-fashioned way.