Time To Sharpen Your Customer Service Skills

You have weathered a lot in the last two years. Your sales are still down, and you can’t seem to find any employees. You are not alone! It is almost as though you are starting over again in the business. Now is the time to refresh your business.

Some time back, a friend of mine in the industry, Gordon Shaw of Hangers Cleaners in San Diego, California recommended reading Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles. So, I bought it and it sat on my bookshelf. Ken Blanchard has written over 23 other best-selling books. This book, Raving Fans, is an easy read and is a must read if you are looking to refresh your outlook on your business.

Dr. Blanchard states, “A satisfied customer doesn’t count these days. You have to create raving fans to be successful.” Think about it. How many of your customers rave about your business? If you ask most customers about your business and service, they will say “it’s fine.” They are satisfied because their expectations are so low and because no one else is doing any better.

There are three steps to creating raving fans:

Decide What You Want
You need to decide what you want. Are you satisfied with average customer service? If you had all the resources you need, what do you see? Dream big. “Once you have a real vision, impose it over your organization and see where the bumps and warts are. That’s what you work on,” suggests Blanchard. Satisfied customers just aren’t good enough. If your customers are only “satisfied”, they are ready to leave at any time. Is there a new cleaner opening nearby? Is this a new customer you need to impress because his previous cleaner has closed? How do you measure up?

Decide What The Customer Wants
“All you need to do is discover the customers’ vision of what they really want and then alter your vision if need be.” It is necessary for you to have your own vision first before talking to the customer. It puts you in a position to understand the customers’ vision. Spend time talking to your customers. Yes, you! Most customers will not complain since they think it will be a waste of time. Customers will assume no one wants to know what they think. When there is silence, you must learn to listen hard. If they are not raving fans, start asking them the tough questions. You want to blend the customers’ vision with yours. This will take time so consider it a work in progress. If you do happen to have a customer complaint, LISTEN to them. You know you are hearing the truth. Occasionally you need to fire a customer. There is only so much you can do to make someone happy. If he/she is never happy, you should suggest he/she go elsewhere.

Deliver The Vision Plus, One Percent
You have created your vision; you have decided what the customer wants. “To start with, limit the number of areas where you want to make a difference. First, it allows you to be consistent. Second, you’ll be much further ahead doing a bang-up job on one thing rather than introducing a whole string of customer service goals all at once, Dr. Blanchard advises. Develop systems to ensure consistency. And Training. I find many business owners put employees in jobs they are not trained for. I am not suggesting the employees needs to have experience in the position but rather YOU need to train them as to how YOU want the job done. CSRs with a smile on their face and a fresh uniform can do wonders to update the appearance of your business. Customers should be greeted by their names. Friendly CSRs talk about topics not directly related to the business at hand.

Your vision also has to be changing and flexible. Customer’s needs and wants to change all the time. Especially with COVID 19. Many will be working at home rather than in the office. Your vision needs to take account for this. I know many of you have made changes adapting to the current status and looking to the future. The dry cleaning business is changing. You CAN NOT continue to do what you did in the past. You will not survive. As I said in the beginning, this book is an easy read and recommend you read it. You will not be sorry!
Hope to see many of you at the CCA Fabricare 2021 educational conference in Las Vegas October 2nd – 3rd.

About Jackie Smith

Jackie Smith has been in the dry-cleaning industry for over 40 years. Her experience spans from owning a drycleaning business to working for Henderson Insurance Agency who specializes in the fabricare industry. She currently serves on the CCA Board as well as the board for So Cal Cleaners Association. She can be reached at jmshb@socal.rr.com.

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