CHICAGO — Laundry managers remain attuned to customer feedback, as 65.6% say they follow up “immediately” with a customer after a service complaint is received, according to results from this month’s American Laundry News Your Views survey.
Over a quarter of operators follow up with a customer complaint “within 24 hours” (28.9%), while a small percentage reply “within a week” (4.4%) or “within a month” (1.1%).
Among the laundry list of customer complaints, the most common service complaint operators receive concerns the “condition of laundered goods” (30.0%).
Some operators say that a “missed or late delivery” (18.9%) is most often the cause, while 15.6% say it’s that “contents of order (type or number of items) are incorrect.” Roughly 14% say it’s a “failure to deliver or package goods according to customer’s wishes.” Small percentages point to a “reaction to increased cost of service” (5.6%), “incorrect charges or billing” (1.1%) or “staff conduct” (1.1%).
Roughly 13% of operators attributed “other” causes for complaints, such as “missing items” or misunderstanding of service requests.
Measuring customer/end-user satisfaction remains a top priority for many operators, as 82.2% say they have a system in place to do that. Only 16.7% say they do not have a system established, while 1.1% say they are “not sure.”
Likewise, 78.9% say they record and track service complaints in some way, while 18.9% say they do not. A small percentage are unsure (2.2%).
In terms of contacting customers regarding complaints, 46.0% say they “inquire informally in conversation,” while another 46.0% inquire informally alongside asking customers to “complete a written survey.” Only 8.0% solely ask customers to send their complaint via a written survey.
Overall, many operators are confident in their facility’s customer service, with more than half saying their level of customer service is “above average” (51.6%), while 36.3% feel that it is “excellent.” Only small shares of respondents believe their customer service is “average” (11.0%) or “below average” (1.1%). No operators ranked their level of customer service as “poor.”
Regarding the “most ridiculous” service complaint they’ve ever received, some operators say that customers often want personal clothing washed, or that customers become confused with their own linen inventory.
“As a [customer-owned goods] laundry, we return clean what we pick up soiled within 24 hours,” says one operator. “I received a call from a customer that we were returning too many bath blankets and [that] they didn’t have room to store them. They wanted to know if we would just send them to another customer who could use them.”
Other operators report even stranger complaints, with one saying that a “customer was looking for a missing body part.”
Another operator says, “A customer wanted a California king sheet folded the size of a piece of paper. We had to bring him in and show him how the machine worked and explain no one would be able to meet that criteria.”
While the Your Views survey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific.
Subscribers to American Laundry News e-mails are invited to take the industry survey anonymously online each month. All managers and administrators of institutional/OPL, cooperative, commercial and industrial laundries are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define operator opinions and industry trends.