DALLAS — Every dry cleaner has their own story about why they got into the business. Some did it because their family was in the business. Others because they liked the idea of cleaning clothes. Some, like me, because they were fed up with their local cleaners.

Regardless of what our story is, we all are in this business because at some point we wanted to provide a better experience for drycleaning and laundry customers.

The trouble is that while most of us start out with great intentions, the reality of running a dry cleaner day in and day out sometimes pulls us away from our customers. When you have to make payroll, fix the boiler, or replace an employee that just quit, it’s difficult to stay focused on the most important lever that you can pull to grow your business: The customer experience.

How do we stay focused on and create a great customer experience?

For me, it starts and ends with the customer journey. By customer journey, I mean the set of steps the customer goes through from the moment they have the thought: “I need to do my dry cleaning or laundry,” to the moment they receive their clothes.

To execute the customer journey, I break it into three basic steps:

THE SEARCH

To understand our customer’s experience with our brand, we first have to get into the mindset of someone who has never used us before and is searching for a dry cleaner.

Imagine if you just moved to a new town and you were looking for a dry cleaner. What would you do? Most people would probably Google “dry cleaners” or “dry cleaners near me.”

Does you cleaner come up when people make that search? If not, then they’re already having a bad experience with your brand because they’re not even finding it. If your cleaner does come up, is there a map to your store? Can you sign up for delivery easily?

In a condo setting, maybe the potential customer goes to their building’s front desk and asks them about local drycleaning service. Do you have a welcome packet at the front desk for them? Is it easy to sign up?

At the end of the day, our goal during The Search is to make sure that the customer can find us as easily as possible.

USE IT

After you’re done searching and finding your cleaner, you have to use your cleaning service and experience what your customers experience.

I’m always shocked at how few drycleaning owners use their cleaners just as a customer would. I can’t tell you how many issues I’ve found in my own drycleaning business simply by using the service.

Just recently, I used one of our stores and noticed that my order wasn’t showing up on the mobile app. It turned out there was one setting box in our POS that hadn’t been checked. We may not have realized that glitch for years if I hadn’t used the service and checked on the status of my order.

Of course that’s just an example, but in using your own dry cleaner, you can discover countless minor issues related to quality, convenience, or usability that a customer might not complain about, but undermines the experience.

FOLLOW-UP

Once you’ve used your own service, the final step on the customer journey is follow-up. Did you receive a thank you note? Are you getting additional marketing emails? If you call with an issue, is your customer service line answered promptly?

The follow-up is just as critical in distinguishing customer experience as the product itself.

Taking the customer journey yourself, and encouraging your staff to take it as well, is absolutely vital to ensuring that your customers are taking delight in your service. And it can’t just be a one-time thing.

I recommend setting aside time once a week or at least once a month to take the customer journey and see if you’re delivering a truly rewarding experience for your customers. You won’t regret it!

To read Part 1, go HERE.