Do Good Cleaning Companies Get Bad Reviews?

Do Good Cleaning Companies Get Bad Reviews?

Do good cleaning companies get bad reviews? The answer is yes. Wow, that was easy, if only that were the whole story! I guess I should explain that the answer is simple, but also very complex. There is a multitude of reasons that a good company will get bad reviews and please notice that I said WILL get negative reviews, not May. Now very small companies where the owner is still cleaning in the field may not get any bad reviews UNTIL they grow. A growing company eventually reaches a more critical mass of clients. That’s when they start relying on employees to do the work. But companies that you would typically think of as ones where the employees are cleaning and supervised while they perform the bulk of the cleaning activities – those companies will get some bad reviews. This makes perfect sense as explored below.

The reason that good companies get bad reviews is simple because currently they are run by humans and used by humans. Humans make mistakes, are misunderstood, are egotistical, can be crabby, or vengeful, or spiteful. They can also try hard to do their best and still not measure up, or pick the wrong people to clean for, or just plain have a difficult day. You can probably see that those descriptions can apply to owners, supervisors, managers, employees, etc. It’s a wonder that there aren’t more negative reviews.

Let’s talk about some of these reasons in a little more detail. There are 3 main reasons why a company will get negative reviews even if they are run very well, provide a consistently high level of service, and genuinely WANT to meet or exceed their customers’ needs.

1) Unmet Expectations

When a potential customer contacts a cleaning company there are certain expectations on both sides. Most of the time these expectations are addressed. If either the customer or the company believes that there is a mismatch, no service will be performed. Additionally, companies work very hard to craft a message for their company that helps to set the correct expectations. They put in place systems and processes to support that message. But sometimes, things can slip through the cracks.

For example, a customer might expect that the windows of a home are included in a deep-cleaning price, while the company typically charges extra for windows. It’s easy to see that a customer paying $200 expecting to have their windows cleaned is going to be upset. And it’s just as easy to see how a company that does $200 worth of cleaning can be upset to hear that the customer expected $300 worth of cleaning for only $200.

In this case, lack of communication contributed to the problem and could have possibly been avoided if either side had addressed window cleaning during the initial set up of the services. In this particular case, I would put the responsibility on the company. Since window cleaning is a typical thing for cleaning companies to do, it’s reasonable that they address and set the expectation.

There are also situations where a customer may appear to be responsible. For instance, a customer might have expectations that are not cleaning-related. Watering plants, the type of employees that will do the cleaning (size of a team, gender, race, a language that is spoken), organizing cupboards, etc. I would argue that a good cleaning company will create systems and processes to addresses these areas of potential upset and frustration for the customer.

Some common areas where unmet expectations might be expected are the following:

  • What will be moved during cleaning?
  • How much needs to be picked up?
  • How are dishes handled?
  • How are pets cared for (or not)?
  • What happens with pet accidents/waste?
  • Who will be in the home?
  • How will the company enter the home?
  • Payment amounts and delivery methods
  • What time will the cleaning begin/end?
  • What happens if things are broken?
  • What is included/not included in the cleaning?

Good strong companies may use FAQ pages to address many of these issues and more.

2) Miscommunication

Closely tied to lack of communication, miscommunication can be frustrating for everyone. There are such a wide variety of reasons for the miscommunication that I won’t go into them all here. A good company will take many precautions in order to avoid miscommunication as much as possible. They may put as much in writing as possible, including all work instructions and agreements. They may ask for clarification from the customer or ask for comprehension. Some companies may go to the home and visit with the customer before signing them up for service if they are at all concerned there may be confusion.

Miscommunication almost always occurs innocently but may be perceived harshly. The company may say they will be arriving to clean between 9 and 11, but the customer may interpret that to mean that they will be arriving at 9:00 and cleaning until 11:00. If the company arrives at 10:45, this customer may be very upset. Were this customer to leave a poor review, a good company would hear this feedback as an opportunity to improve its systems and processes.

Because miscommunication can happen in so many ways and also be such an innocent thing, it can feel unfair to the company to receive a negative review. A good company will want to manage these negative reviews in ways that will make it stronger.

3) Workforce Constraints

The house cleaning industry, following needs and demands, currently tend to hire a lower-wage employee who may not be as dedicated to the job as their higher-paid counterparts. Even those who are very dedicated and have a good work ethic tend to have home issues that compound their ability to meet the unusual pressures and demands placed upon them.

The level of detail that is required from these employees on a very constant basis rivals many more highly compensated positions. There is a certain amount of muscle memory that comes into play with some of the more repetitive parts of the job–cleaning toilets for instance–but there are many more areas that require 100% focus. Employees must look carefully at every surface they clean and pay attention to exactly what the needs of that surface area. Highly trained technicians will note the surface, type of soil, and best viable solutions for each item that they are cleaning for up to 8 hours a day. This level of focus is seldom needed in most jobs and can be even more exhausting when paired with the physical work of cleaning homes.

The elevated level of discipline needed, combined with the physically challenging aspects of the job and the low(er) pay, make the typical house cleaning job unattractive at best and degrading at worst. For this reason, even good cleaning companies may struggle to hire and retain employees that are willing and capable to do the work that is needed for lengthy periods of time. The good business owner must balance these considerations as well as the fee the market will bear, negative stereotypes about “maids,” child care considerations, and low unemployment statistics.

Creating a healthy culture of appreciation, respect, and accountability will go a long way toward maintaining an environment where employees are able to perform to their best abilities. Even in the best circumstances, with the best people, putting in their best effort, things can go awry. If not for one of the two reasons above, then sometimes just because the workload may increase on any given day.

Consider the flu. When the flu hits a cleaning company, there will be fewer people cleaning homes. It simply isn’t prudent to send sick people into other peoples’ homes. Especially if you are tasked with cleaning those homes! When employees are out sick, the rest of the employees must either increase their already full workloads to compensate for the sick people, or those jobs must be moved to another day where there will also not be enough time to do additional work. To ensure that employees are receiving a living wage, there must be a full day’s schedule for them each and every day.

Any illness on the part of the employee or their families can put extraordinary pressure on most companies and their customers. Most employees will also need some time off for doctor visits, child care closures, and their children’s activities. Good companies will work to have trained backup help available including call-in employees, those with days off, etc. but these people are not always available as quickly as they are needed, potentially leading to negative reviews.

How do I tell the good companies from the not so good by reading reviews?

I hope I’ve been able to illustrate how even good companies can get bad reviews. Since all companies will get negative reviews – good and bad alike, consider asking yourself how do I tell the good companies from the not so good by reading reviews?  Here are some tips.

  • Read the review carefully, does it sound like this is an anomaly, or is there a common thread? If it is an anomaly, this may be a good company to work with.
  • Does the reviewer sound emotionally charged? Because cleaning companies are dealing with their customers’ intimate spaces, emotions can get quickly out of control. Many times, a customer will respond in a way that is out of proportion to the problem that they experienced. The best way to know if it is out of proportion is to check the company’s response as noted next.
  • Look at the company’s response. Does the company get defensive or look for ways to solve the issue for the customer? Is the company understanding and helpful while trying to gain an understanding of their side of things? A good company will remember that this is a customer that they chose to do business with and that they are ultimately responsible for the customer’s satisfaction. Not because they made any mistakes, but simply because by accepting this customer, they accepted all that comes with her and that they have the most power to fix the situation.
  • Are there many reviews, but no negative reviews at all? Unfortunately, there are ways to get fake reviews easily and also to bribe people to take down negative reviews, just as there are customers who will blackmail a company to receive a free cleaning. No negative reviews is a sign that something is amiss.
  • Are the ratings disbursed among all the ratings or do they mainly fall very high with only a few very low scores? A very good company will tend to have all 4 or 5-star reviews and a very small amount of 1 or 2-star reviews. A company that has its reviews scattered between 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 stars may have more issues than you would want to deal with.
  • Look for comments to determine the validity of the ratings. Do the 5-star reviews have praise that goes along with them or just the score? Most “true” customers who are rating 5 stars will be doing so because something was so great they felt compelled to.

Finally, if you are happy with the service you receive from a company, think about taking a few minutes to say what you liked and why.  Additionally, if there was a problem with the service, let the company know what they could do to make their service better rather than telling them how bad they are. Most good companies are appreciative and grateful for the feedback that helps them improve their service.

If you have anything you would like to ask, feel free to reach us out at 888-302-5582 or booking for your cleaning.


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