Add a Little Starch to Your Customer Service!
By Ron Rosenberg
We're going to take a look at a dry cleaner to show you that the way you handle mistakes can make the difference between losing business and enhancing customer loyalty.
Unless you’ve been living on a remote island, you’ve probably noticed a significant decline in the level of customer service being delivered over the last few years. Things that should be fairly simple and straightforward end up becoming complicated and difficult. And most of the time, people don’t seem to be especially interested in doing the right thing to correct the problem.
People have a right to expect excellent service, but from time to time, mistakes do happen. It’s how you handle the mistakes that make the difference between losing business and enhancing customer loyalty.
We take our clothes to the same dry cleaner a few times a month. They have a drive-up window to make drop-off and pick-up easy, and the quality of the cleaning is good. One major convenience is that they provide us with several “express bags” that are labeled with our name and ID number. This allows them to automatically record our name and bill our credit card without making us wait for a claim check.
One time, however, we ran into a problem. During the course of the week, we had dropped off several of these express bags. When I returned later in the week to pick up all of the dry cleaning, there seemed to be some clothes missing. They ran my name through the computer again but came up with nothing. And because of the express service, I didn’t have a claim check for the clothing.
I assumed that my wife had picked up the other clothes and returned home. As it turned out, she hadn’t, and I was missing a pair of pants and a shirt that I needed for a trip the next morning. When I called back and spoke to the manager, he asked me to describe the items I was missing. “Okay,” he replied, “I found them!”
What had happened was that the ID label had fallen off the express bag, they had handwritten a note with the information, and the note had fallen off, leaving them with no way to know whose clothes they were. An innocent mistake. But the way in which they handled it made a huge difference:
Manager: “Can you come in and pick the clothes up before we close?”
Me: “That’s going to be difficult; my sister’s family is visiting from Connecticut and we’re trying to get out of the house for dinner.”
Manager: “Hmmm, how far do you live from here? Maybe we could bring it out to you.”
And that’s just what he did. The mistake was theirs, he apologized for the error and then took responsibility for the error by personally delivering the clothing to our house.
In establishing the patterns of quality service that you provide customers, recognize that they will appreciate your business, even more, when you can resolve a problem quickly, decisively, and to their satisfaction.