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What Do They Expect? (Conclusion)

Give your front staff the tools needed to provide excellent service

CHICAGO — While excellence in customer service should always be the goal of dry cleaners, it’s also vital to maintain an element of consistency when dealing with the people who come into your store. When the experience is wildly different from one visit to another, the customer can’t know what to expect, which hurts loyalty and repeat business.

This was the message that Jen Marquardt, customer service expert for The Route Pros, gave during her presentation, “Consistency Leads to Customer Service Excellence.” Marquardt spoke at the recent SpringFest Expo, an online series of virtual learning courses sponsored by the North East Fabricare Association (NEFA), the South Eastern Fabricare Association (SEFA), the Pennsylvania & Delaware Cleaners Association (PDCA) and the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (DLI).

In Part 1, we reviewed the need and benefits of maintaining regular, ongoing communication between team members to ensure a consistent experience for customers. Today, we’ll finish by examining how owners can give the face of their business the tools needed to keep customers coming back.

On the Front Lines

One of the areas where Marquardt focused was on the front counter, where customers often have their primary interaction with your company. She asked three questions, to which the correct answers can yield massive results.

  • Script or No Script? — It’s inevitable that a customer is going to come in unhappy from time to time. Marquart has found that training the front counter staff to expect this — and know how to deal with it — can quickly diffuse the situation. “The first thing you should say to an upset customer is, ‘I can see you’re upset. I understand completely. Don’t worry; we’ll take care of this,’” she says. A little training on how to consistently handle common situations, such as a broken zipper or other mishaps, can go a long way into turning an angry customer into a satisfied one.
  • Who’s Doing the Training? — “How many people are training?” Marquardt asks. “Is it a manager one day, Suzy on Monday and Tabitha on Tuesday?” Without having a structured training program, dry cleaners can’t expect consistent results from their staff. “Train one person to teach your staff the way you want them to be trained,” she says. “Then, if you want to grow, start training someone else.”
  • Who Owns the Problem? — “Whoever takes the phone call or greets an upset customer, they should own it, in the sense that they’re responsible for checking in and making sure things get done,” Marquardt says. While that front-counter person might not have the authority to make it right — although she urges owners to empower their team to be able to handle common complaints — a customer who feels neglected because a busy manager forgot to call them back will soon take their business elsewhere.

While it might be challenging to focus so closely on consistency, Marquardt has found the effort to be worth the work. “If you fall off the wagon, go run and catch it,” she says. “Don’t let a failure stop the forward progress that you’ve already made.”

For Part 1 of this series, click HERE.