CHICAGO — As laundry and linen services look to move on from the effects of the pandemic, to grow their businesses, they are examining every process in their companies.
That includes their customer service processes.
Without excellent customer service, a laundry would struggle to survive, let alone thrive.
How can an operation evaluate its customer service experience, its overall customer service culture, to improve and grow?
American Laundry News spoke with Shep Hyken, a customer service and experience expert about how customer service has changed and what laundry and linen services can do to evaluate and improve their customer service cultures.
Hyken founded Shepard Presentations in 1983 and has worked with hundreds of clients ranging from Fortune 100-size organizations to companies with less than 50 employees. His articles have been read in hundreds of publications, and he is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author.
In Part 1, Hyken talked about excellent customer service and how customer service has changed. This time, he shares how a laundry operation can evaluate its customer service.
So now we get to the big question: How can a laundry operation evaluate its customer service in terms of its customers, its employees, its vendors. How can it evaluate how it’s doing in terms of its customer service?
There are a number of measurements we want to look at, and these are the typical customer satisfaction, customer effort, net promoter scores. The lifetime value of a customer is very, very important. I also want to look at the behavior of the customer. What is the cadence of a regular customer?
I realize in the B2B world, we have an advantage and a disadvantage, which is many times we have a finite number of customers that’s easy to manage versus a large company or brand in the consumer world.
They may have hundreds of thousands of customers, and all they can look at is general averages and look at trends they can spot a lot, and they can dissect it a number of ways. But with B2B, I could probably take a look at a list of my customers, and it’s not a daunting task. So, I think that’s a tremendous advantage.
And what we need to do is the same evaluation of how we’ve been doing. Are you happy with the service we provide; are we doing what we’re supposed to?
Two, are we staying in touch with you enough? If there’s a problem, are we responding quickly enough and resolving the issue to your complete and total satisfaction the gives you the confidence to want to keep doing business with us?
I want to know all of those metrics, but every one of those is a history lesson—it’s not what’s happening right now and going into the future. It will help me design what I need to give in the future, but it doesn’t tell me what’s really happening with my customer. What I need to also be looking at is the actual behavior.
The best way of looking at it is, I want to use the word “cadence.” What is the cadence of a repeat customer in my business? You need to start the renewal process before the contract is ever signed in the first place.
We want them to love us going into it, and we want them to keep loving us so they’ll never want to consider anyone else because they realize the risk they would put themselves at if they were to switch to a different vendor and not be happy. Because they are so happy now, that makes price a little less relevant when you can deliver the value.
So, what we want to do is look at the behavior of what a typical customer looks like. I’m going to give you an example that’s completely unrelated but I think is relatable. A CEO of a major organization shared this with me. His business was hair salons, and I was hired to speak to thousands of managers and owners of hair salons across the U.S., and what I realized is he was recognizing the cadence of a repeat customer.
A person with a certain head of hair might come in once every four weeks where somebody who’s got curly, long hair and gets it colored comes in every three weeks, and somebody else may come in every six weeks.
Once you segment your customers and you understand what the routine of the repeat customer is, you can start to spot whether you have a true repeat customer or you have somebody that’s falling off, that’s not as consistent with their buying pattern, so you’ve got to go in fix that by building the relationship, talking them about what you can do, etc.
You’ll also notice opportunities to grow that relationship and build trust with that relationship. That’s what you’re attempting to do.
Now, do not confuse this repeat pattern with loyalty. Loyalty is a different level of repeat business. You want the repeat business, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Don’t think I’m knocking repeat business. What I’m saying is that there’s a higher level and that is where your customer views you as a partner versus just the vendor that they’re buying from.
And so when you have a customer that is buying from you over and over in the cadence that you would consider a good repeat customer, don’t say that they’re a loyal customer unless you know, are 100% sure that they’re loyal.
You need to understand the why behind their buying pattern, and once you do that, you’ll say, okay, they like us because we deliver quickly. They like us because our price is always the lowest. Well, that’s great—until somebody comes along and delivers faster and drops the price lower.
But if somebody says, I love them because their sales rep gets in and understands our business and they’ve been able to do all that we’ve done before, but we save money because of an idea they offered, now we’re getting into this partnership concept versus just being a vendor.
You’ll start to know you’re doing a good job when you start to look at your metrics and you start to look at the behavior combined.
Miss Part 1, about excellent customer service and how customer service has changed? Click HERE now to read it! And check back Thursday for the conclusion on improving customer service culture.