How can I calm a frazzled customer with a water damaged home?

Question: How can I orient the Insured on everything involved when all they want to do is “suck the water out FAST”?

Steve’s reply: Display a “sense of urgency” AND structure those first few stressful minutes with our free SFS  Water Damage Customer Interview Form!

Hi SteveWater Soaked Carpet Pad

I am doing more and more water damage work and that is great.  However, I’m still having trouble when I first arrive at the loss.  As you teach we “show care and concern” for the customer. But they seem to be focused on just one thing, “sucking out the @#$%&^* water!”  (And I guess who can blame them!)

As professionals we all know water damage is more than just sucking out the water in the carpet and pad. But lately many of my water damage home owners seem to get really defensive/angry when I explain about the walls being wet, etc. and what needs to happen to restore their home.

My question is- should I just tell them we will just extract the water and then AFTER we do that, I tell them what else is involved?  I did a job where the customers got irritated with me when I was trying to explain how this process would go. They just wanted me to extract the water.  After I extracted, both the husband and wife were much calmer, much more receptive to what else I had to say and even thanked me for my technical explanation of the process.  This was a total 180 degree change from their stressed-out attitude before the extraction.

Thanks for your help!!

Slightly Stressed in Klamath Falls, OR

Good to hear from you, Slightly.  You definitely are asking all the right questions, especially by focusing on the “Moments of Truth” profiled in this “Restoration Checklist” HERE. As I look through your Customer’s Eyeglasses I can certainly see why they might get impatient with a (forgive me) longwinded explanation while their house is literally drowning!

So what to do?  Here are a few thoughts:

  • Yes, I think above all else they want action so give them action.  Of course, you need to verify a few things first.  So have you downloaded my “Water Damage Customer Interview Form” ?  If not, do so right now, soldier!  That’s an order!
  • The Interview Form is divided into three sections.  The first one should be filled out over the phone and gets all their basic information plus as good an idea as possible of what the loss entails so we know how people and equipment quantities right away.
  • The second section on the Interview Form is headlined:  On-site Initial Interview/Inspection This section structure your first few moments with a panicked customer and they will be reassured by your clipboard and the fact that you are following a routine format.  (As in, “Hey, relax, we’ve done this before!”)
  • The third section of the Form,  Loss Review/Damage Containment Planning can be done as part of Section 2 if the home owner is not totally freaking out OR it may be better to jump in and review the third section as the extraction is in progress or after you are finished.  (This is just one reason why it is better to have two techs at an initial water loss extraction so one of them can work while the other does “customer handholding”.)

NOTE:  You might also want to download my “Recession Proofing Your Restoration Business” Report.

Let me know how following the Interview Form works out for you and congratulations on even noting the problem!   Keep us posted since one of my favorite SFS sayings is:  “We are all in this together!”


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