Image of a man pointingThe commercial cleaning business comes with some interesting challenges. Our staff enters a facility, often after hours and performs a much-needed service.

For the most part, we go unnoticed unless there is a problem. When there is, we often get blamed for it. If a door is left unlocked or lights are left on, the cleaning people are usually blamed first. After all, we were the last ones in the building.

Most cleaning services and businesses will have a policy ‘the customer is always right’. Is this really true? We know it’s not, but that’s how things go and it’s what clients expect. What should you do when a client blames your cleaning service for something?

Let’s say it was a trusted staff member who swears up and down that it was not them. They absolutely locked the door and set the alarm, but the client says it was open the next day.

It’s up to you to take an investigative approach. First of all, I have rarely had an employee admit to screwing up, they will usually deny whatever happened. That is human nature, so we do need to accept the fact that they may have been at fault.

I prefer to start by asking questions to the client, I want to slowly rule out any possibility that someone else caused the problem. When it comes to locking doors and setting alarms, we have a live system that our staff uses to verify the building is secure before they leave.

Since we have been using it, we have not had an issue or been blamed for leaving a building unsecured. If we did, we could look at the log and see what time our staff member left. Then I would ask the client to check their security camera or system to see if anyone else may have stopped by the buildings. You know there is always that one person who works late or comes in on the weekend, right?

In many cases, if something is missing the client will admit “I’m not saying it was your staff, we can’t prove it, but..” This is the worst possible case, especially if you have a new employee who may have been unsupervised for part of the shift.

All you can do is go with your gut feeling and try to make the best judgment call. This is to be handled delicately, you don’t want to falsely accuse someone.

Sometimes it’s a lose-lose situation, that doesn’t end well. If all the evidence points to us, then we have to take the blame. We have to replace the missing item and fire the suspect. This is a terrible position to be in, fortunately, it’s only happened to us a few times.

With the increased technology in buildings, most larger facilities have security cameras. They have come in handy a few times for us when we were blamed for something.

After reviewing the security footage the client realized that it was not us. If possible ask the client to review the security footage if they haven’t already. Of course, this can go against you as well, if it was your employee.

The bottom line is this: handle each situation as it happens and do not lose your cool.