Give your clients the “Illusion of Control”

sooth-the-cleaning-customer-with-the-illusion-of-controlI call it “Giving a home owner the ‘Illusion of Control‘.”  (IOC)  Residential success is all about recognizing the negative Emotional Dynamics of having outside workers in the home INCLUDING feeling very much “out of control”!

Therefore, giving “control” back to your customers is a huge positive Moment of Truth.  Here are some assorted “IOC exchanges”.*  Program these into your technician’s work routines and watch your 5-star reviews skyrocket!

1. After introducing all your co-workers to the client, ask them if they would like your team to wear shoe covers inside their home. (Or even better, just do automatically put them on. It is all about showing “care and concern” for their home!)

2. If the customer is with you ask their permission before opening up a piece of furniture, closet or cabinet.

3.  If you have only been working in one wing or part of the house ask permission before going into another area.  HINT: If you need the customer and they are elsewhere call out to them by name instead of searching for and possibly startling them.

4.  Initially park on the street and then ask the home owner which side of the driveway they would like you to park on.  (This also avoids the logistical hassles of them needing to get their car out of the garage halfway through the job!)

5.  If you need to go back into the home after you have said good-bye to a customer be sure to ring the doorbell.  Don’t just walk back in!  (Don’t ask me how I learned about this TIP!)

* Note the phrase “IOC exchanges” above.  I compare the giving of Illusion of Control to your client to a tennis game.  In tennis you serve the ball and then your opponent returns it.  With IOC you “serve control” and then the home owner “returns the control” when they give you permission to proceed.  This IOC exchange empowers your customer and calms their fears and is a huge subconscious Moment of Truth!  Try it!


P.S: We’ve all had customer get a little “on edge” with us now and then. Please share below what little mishaps have sent your customers “over the edge”.

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3 thoughts on “Give your clients the “Illusion of Control””

  1. hello Steve,
    One day I was at a home that demanded the use of an RX-20 for the cleaning of their home. The husband was the person who was familiar with the piece of equipment and the wife knew nothing of it. While I was cleaning there light Beige Saxony carpet she happened by. I asked her if she would like to see how the machine worked and she said yes. I tipped up the machine and showed her the spinning head and multiple jets and slots. I then placed it back on the carpet and began cleaning. My machine took that moment to overheat the water. Suddenly as she watched, a large amount of black water came shooting out from under the RX-20 and swirled it in a large circle. I quickly stopped the machine but the look on her face was one of complete horror. I explained to her what had happened and that it would be no problem to remove the darkened water from the carpet as soon as I cooled down the machine. She was very happy with the final results.


  2. It never fails, Grant. I used to do what I called “The Toburen Shuffle”. They call it “thinking on your feet”! 🙂


    PS Thanks for writing in and “sharing your pain”. Plus notice what another one of our readers just sent in to my personal email …

  3. Hi Steve,
    I had an upholstery cleaning job where I asked home owner for a drain, he showed me the toilet on the lower level. But between the truck and the toilet was the washing machine and an available drain. I prefer using this as opposed to the toilet , so I plugged in there.

    While cleaning upstairs I noticed a very distinct odor emanating from the lower level of the home. Immediately, fear and loathing arose in my bosom.

    I leaped over the furniture and down the stairs to turn off the pump. I must admit that it was not very gazelle like, more like a walrus on legs. (A very old walrus!)

    Water was all over the lower level. So was the odor. But the hose was securely in the drain! So I cleaned up the mess. Then the owner came in and wanted to know why I plugged into that drain, because it was cut off inside the wall! Silly me!

    Some of the laminate floor was curled so I had to find a replacement that matched and have someone install it. Of course I didn’t charge them for the upholstery I cleaned and all together it cost me about a $1000.00.

    Now, I still don’t feel that it was my fault. There was no indication that it was not a perfectly fine drain. But I took responsibility and the customer was impressed with my attitude about it. (On the inside my attitude was not very good, even resentful, but I didn’t allow it to show.)

    She sent me a personal card that stated “couldn’t be more satisfied” “I will always recommend you” ”grateful for the customer service you provided for us” and most important: “I posted a review online with 5 stars”!


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