Think like a customer to reach customers

The ideal way to navigate the marketing maze is to remember who you are trying to reach: customers. And, since you have been and continue to be a customer of various places of business, you actually have a built-in bread-crumb trail to follow through the maze. Your own experiences can guide you to enhance the customer experience and draw in new clients.

What do they want??

Rather than hitting your head against the wall and wondering what your customers want, think about what YOU want in any given retail experience.

  • Easy access to the business
  • Nice people to deal with
  • Efficient in and out
  • Accuracy in your purchases
  • Quality work
  • Decent prices
  • No hassles

Hold that list up next to your business, and see how you rate. Can customers get to you when they want to? Do they even have to come to you — or do you go to them? Are your CSRs trained to be pleasant and personable? Do you get complaints about overcharges or poor work? Are your prices equal to the service you provide? Do you have barriers to making the service experience as easy as possible?

Great ideas

Editor’s Note: This month we’re talking about Marketing Gems. There is a group of professionals who get together online every week to discuss industry issues and share ideas. It’s a DLI (Drycleaning & Laundry Institute) Zoom forum, and Sid Chelsky of the Canadian Fabricare Association (CFA) summarizes some of the best points in his newsletters. We’ve drawn some of the ideas in this column from that forum. If you’re not on it, you should be. Contact DLI for details.

The top 4 reasons customers leave you, according to the forum, are:

  • Poor quality
  • Poor customer service
  • Slow service
  • Price

Yes, price is at the bottom of the list. If all the things above it are good, they aren’t going anywhere. They figure you’re charging for what they’re getting. Put yourself back in customer mode and think about where you like to do business. Do you mind what you pay if you walk out with a smile, feeling you’ve had value for money? Frankly, often price is the excuse a customer uses when they have grown dissatisfied with the quality and service.

Forum participants said that 59% of survey respondents use a medium price cleaner. Clearly, price isn’t everything. 14% of those surveyed use higher end cleaners. Discussion then turned to the opportunities this gives for medium-priced cleaners to offer a two-tier system to meet both needs, with extra attention to the top tier garment processes.

Making it easy

Everybody is stressed and stretched for time these days. Anything you can do to alleviate some of that is a plus in your column, and customers react with loyalty. Take deliver service. Saving the customer from having to get in the car and bring you their garments and home textiles is huge. Knowing they’ll get them delivered back again is priceless.

On the other hand, you may be on their way to or from work or other activities, but you just aren’t open convenient hours. That’s where a kiosk can be a lifesaver. A way for customers to get what they want when they want it is noted and appreciated by them.

The forum participants noted that more people will sign up for route service if it is offered free — but the cleaner must build in delivery into their overall pricing structure so that it remains profitable to do. Kiosk services are a nice compliment to routes.

Communicate, communicate

Three-quarters of customers surveyed said they want to know when their orders are ready, whether they are being delivered back to them, available through a kiosk or being picked up in person. This is probably driven by the online giants like Amazon that hold customers’ hands through the buying process, by acknowledging the order, letting them know it’s being packaged, notifying them it’s been shipped and an approximate delivery date, and even saying, “Your package has been delivered!” As a customer, you know the lift that kind of communication gives you.

How is YOUR communication? Do you hand a customer a receipt and say, “It’ll be done on Thursday, I hope,”? Or does your POS system keep track of the order and let customers know what’s going on all along the process? Which would you prefer as a customer? Think like a customer to improve your customer service.

Times are changing

The next generation to use your services will be millennials. And 38% of them said they favour businesses whose products and services are environmentally friendly. That means more than just your solvent or processes. It’s the packaging. It’s making it easy to recycle hangers. It’s letting them recycle garments through you, which will be cleaned and given to a responsible charity for others to use. It’s not just one item on a checklist; it’s a mindset and a whole package.

Customer service is psychology

Online ratings and customer feedback have taken over consumer purchasing decisions. If you go to a website to buy something, you want to know if the silly thing actually works. If you are dealing with a service company, you may check their approval ratings to know if you need to be wary of how they do business.

The same goes for your services. Are you any good? How can you prove it?

  • Post actual customer testimonials on your website, in your advertising and even on signs in your call office. Add them to billing statements. Reinforce the message, “They know what they are doing!” every chance you get.
  • Show before-and-after photos of your work. Nothing says “expert” as well as that. Hang them in your lobby, send out postcards with them on it, use them in email newsletters.
  • Respond to ALL comments posted about your company, good or bad. Thank people for the good ones. Respond to the bad ones professionally, telling what you’ve done to correct the situation. Don’t get into an argument online. It will never go away and you’ll regret it.

Thank you so much!

A genuine “Thank you!” makes a customer feel good. You’ve experienced it yourself at your favorite shops, restaurants or venues. You can go a step further and compliment the customer on his or her good taste in selecting your cleaner. The forum talked about a hanger tag saying, “What a beautiful garment! Thank you for trusting it to our care.” Small things make a big difference in the customer experience.

Would you bring your garments to your plant if you had a choice? If not, you have some work to do. If yes, are there ways you can make the experience even better? Brilliant marketing takes what you are doing well and shares it with the world. Go tell them!

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