I like to start out an educational column by telling a few things that are negative. This one is about Customer Service and how to run off customers or those in for the first time.
To give really lousy service be sure and not have a dress code.
This is also the time to show off the latest tattoo, nose ring, or midriff showing with something spiked through the belly button. Of course, let those who work the counter have blue or green hair on top and scraggly under arm hair showing through past the sleeveless shirt or blouse.
Keep your reception area really dirty and stacked as high as possible with boxes of hangers and other miscellaneous debris. This makes your business look like you have a lot of customers.
When the phone rings either let it ring and ring or answer quickly then mumble “get back with you in a minute” and now be sure to slam the phone down with gusto.
When interviewing, look to see if the prospective new hire has good grammar and is easily understood. If they fail these two tests you can add this person to interact with your customers or prospective customers. Of course, a dirty story or joke will fit right in with the other employees.
A huge part of customer service is what the drycleaning machine puts out. Yeah, a little foul odor to the cleaned clothes is always a bonus. Customers really love those little “Sorry But” tags as they let them know you are making a healthy living by being able to afford several boxes of them at a time.
Pressing should always have a double crease, with no extra charge for two creases. Squirting the garments down with the steam iron is an excellent way to loosen creases or pressing details and make the garment looked “lived-in.”
With your short-cut seeking employees these can be found: inspection is not worth the time it takes to thoroughly inspect the garment for odors, wrinkles, double creases and then making the fabric soft with the steam held at a 90° angle to the fabric.
In order to save about a half a penny on bagging the garments, be sure to always cram at least seven garments to a bag.
Actually, nobody in their right mind would follow the above suggestions. Now lets go through what a sane boss would do!
Give counter service employees the task of keeping the reception area neat, tidy and really, really clean. You might have to de-clutter the place and even paint the walls and perhaps the ceiling also. Spend a few bucks on uniforms for the CRS staff such as tan bottoms whether skirts, pants or slacks. In the hot summer, a pair of tan shorts will fill the bill. When these colors are on the bottom, white, blue or green would go well with them in the form of a well-pressed shirt, pull over or blouse. The reason this combination would be called a uniform is because the employees will look uniform and not have to worry about what to wear to work. Any other employee who is seen by the customer should also be in uniform.
When a customer comes to the plant or dry store they should be greeted immediately and with a cheerful voice like they were a long lost brother. Complete attention to what the customer does and says is very important. If they do not point out spots or stains, always ask if the have any new or unusual spots that might need careful attention. Always be personable, pleasant and knowledgeable about the whole drycleaning process and the latest problem garment for the manufacturer or importer.
Make sure your cleaner/spotter fully understands what happens in the drycleaning machine, then they will know what and what not to prespot. Use 75% sizing charge in the summer to let garments be finished more easily and more quickly with the added benefit of not allowing stains to penetrate so deeply. In the winter you can drop back to 50% sizing either injected or into a charged system. Pressing and finishing should be done in a methodical way in order to give the garments a like new appearance. After each lay of a garment the fabric must have all steam (moisture) removed by the vacuum. Make sure the vacuum is working properly, drained each day, and no leaks in the piping to the presses and occasionally check the vacuum valve under the table of the press because too frequently it rots out and delivers constant vacuum, taking it away for the other presses.
Inspection that is done in your plant is the next to the last inspection. The customer is always the last inspector and will make a decision to either return or not depending upon the friendliness your employees show and how their order looks and smells. Every garment needs a thorough inspection to catch unusual odors, nice, tight creases and proper drape of the garment. Never try to inspect and assemble the orders at the same time, as they will not get inspected. Have some kind of non-verbal method of following some the customer has pointed out when leaving their order. This could be with a stain tag telling where the stain is and whether the cleaner has worked on it then tearing the stain tag about half an inch. When the finisher gets the garment he will also tear the ticket about a half-inch. When the inspector sees the stain tag, and can verify that the stain has been removed, clip the torn tag in three places and tag it to the order ticket. This simple step makes sure everyone is doing his or her jobs.
This is enough to get started witha new look and procedures for your plant. The garments should go in one big circle starting at the front counter then on to the hanging rail or rack. A garment should never go backwards through the system. If it does, someone is not doing their job. The moral of this story is that if you do not do anything that is mentioned in the first part of this column you are way ahead of your competitors, unless they are doing all the right things for customers.