ICS Magazine

What To Do When You Damage a Textile

January 12, 2012
We go to great lengths to avoid damaging our customer’s items. We strive to gain all the knowledge about every textile we can.

We go to great lengths to avoid damaging our customer’s items. We strive to gain all the knowledge about every textile we can. We attend certification classes, clean millions of pieces of upholstery and read every cleaning recommendation label. We choose our chemicals and products wisely. We plan out every step and every move in the home to be careful. However, there will come a time when you will damage something.

The damage could be a piece of upholstery that you failed to test properly and stripped the color or shrank the fabric. It could also be a tear caused by the metal handle of your upholstery tool trigger. Whatever the case, it’s not the end of the world as you know it. That’s hard to believe when your stomach drops in that moment. Just remember, though, how the situation is handled separates the true professionals from the wannabes. 

The first action you should take is to be honest with the customer. Let them know what happened. A customer will respect your honesty. If you tear the cushion, let the customer know right away. If you stripped the color on a sofa, let the customer know that an unforeseen result has appeared to occur. Timing is important. If the customer notices it before you notify them, then it can appear as though you didn’t care or notice, both of which make you look less of a professional.

Next, apologize and affirm that you and your company will make this right. This is where the wording is important. Making it right does not always mean complete replacement or compensation. A tear may be repairable. Color migration may be correctable. As proud as you may be, it is important to be humble in these moments. There are too many different situations for one person to have witnessed them all. So this is where you call an industry inspector or a consultant to get a report on the piece.

This is going to take at least another appointment set up with your customer. This is not ideal for them. Do something for them in response to this. Buy them a gift certificate to a local restaurant, or credit them on another service. Be upfront about the inconvenience. Apologize for the situation and offer the gift.

Best case scenario is that your inspector or consultant has a solution to repair or correct the damage. Your customer’s piece is saved and you can move on. However, if there is no method for repair, then you must own up to it. Replace or compensate for the damage through your insurance or out of pocket. Chock it up to training. Make sure you learned from the situation to avoid it in the future.

Most important is that you stood up to your damage and took care of the customer. That customer will continue to call you for your services knowing that you are a responsible and caring company that stands behind your name and services even in times of trouble.