Today I did my grocery shopping at Albertsons. As I approached my car with a loaded cart, a box boy (they probably don’t call them that any longer) was in the parking lot collecting carts. Normally, they would pretend to not see you but this one was actually waiting for me to reach my car. I was surprised when he asked if he could help me. I responded “thank you.” He proceeded to tell me he loves his job and is happy to have one as he loaded my groceries in my car. He also told me his manager told him that treating the customer’s right was an important part of his job. Once he was done, he said “Have a nice day and come back and see us again soon.” I had that warm and fuzzy feeling that maybe, just maybe, customer service is not dead!
We had a discussion about customer service at a So Cal Cleaners Association Board meeting recently. One of the Board members, Ray Rangwala of Esteem Cleaners in Pasadena, California had recently brought his Lincoln in for service at Galpin Motors. Ray stated, “While I was waiting, I noticed a sign at the service department entrance: Our Core Values. I loved how it was written. Maybe this is one of the reasons this is #1 Ford dealer in America!”
2. Servant’s Attitude
4. Continuous Improvement
As business owners, we need to think about these six core values and how they can be applied to our businesses. Customer Service is the most important aspect of the dry cleaning industry, in my opinion. You can have the best quality or the lowest prices but unless you provide the service the customer needs, you are destined for failure.
To start evaluating your customer service, look at every touchpoint. “A bad customer experience at any point in the customer lifecycle can ruin your relationship with that customer,” according to surveymonkey.com/6 keys to improving customer service skills. Consider what your first customer contact may be: A phone call. I have spoken with hundreds of dry cleaners over the years. I still cannot believe how many have not trained their staff to answer the phone properly! Most of the time, the call is answered with “Hello.” If I ask to leave a message, some don’t have paper, some don’t have a pen and some just hang up. What if I was a new customer? Based on some of the responses I get when I call, I would not go to your business. The ZAPPOS Company is a popular direct seller of shoes. They have no brick and mortar stores, but rather operate call centers with representatives that talk directly to the customers. While most call centers focus on cutting cost and high productivity, ZAPPOS encourages longer calls. Tony Hsieh, CEO, believes the key to driving sales is personal connections between his employees and customers. This is not a fit for our industry but it is an example of how important a phone call can be.
Every business should have a script on how to answer the phone.” Good morning, Star Cleaners, this is Jill. How may I help you?” Or something appropriate to your business. You MUST have a paper and pen available by the phone to take messages. Call your business and see how it is answered. You may be surprised. You may lose customers before they even get in the door.
The next touchpoint would be your customer service staff. When the customer walks into your store, do they find a smiling employee ready to help them? Or do they find a CSR talking on their cell phone, chewing gum, in a wrinkled shirt and looking very unhappy to be there? Imagine you are that customer. That first physical impression can encourage a new or existing customer or discourage them even quicker. Your customer service staff’s appearance is a subject for another time. It is how they ACT that is important. When hiring, do you look for a person that is a good conversationalist? If you are interviewing someone who just answers yes or no and won’t look you in the eye, they might not be the right candidate for you. You need an individual with the ability to really listen to the customers. They must be able to connect with your customers. Customers are just ordinary people and they want to be heard. Some customers want to drop off and hurry out. Other customers want to stay and chat awhile. Your staff needs to recognize this and give your customers want they want. We want to WOW your customers and build a rapport that will keep them coming back. Your customers are the reason you’re still in business and your job is to serve your customers to the best of your ability.
There are some many books, online information and seminars available to help you polish your customer service skills. At FABRICARE 2016 in Long Beach, California Trudy Adams did a great job with sharing a wealth of information to make your business more successful. If you missed it, it is your loss.
“Providing Great Customer Service is so easy to do: Just be aware and make it your priority,” www.keeping.com/custome-service says. Make sure your service has that cherry on top!