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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Way We Leave

I quit my dry cleaner this month. Bolted ... dropped the deuce. Peace out.

Quietly, without drama or fanfare, I switched from Drycleaner P to Drycleaner G. I never told the folks at P that I was leaving. I seriously doubt if they have noticed. Once I had made the switch, I told three friends about my experience.

Why did I leave? And more importantly, why should you care? My behavior as a consumer was wholly typical and representative ... it's a mini case study. I left my drycleaner for the same reasons--and in the same manner--that all customer leave all service businesses.

Reason #1 - Quality.
Drycleaner P stopped being careful with my clothing. I don't have time to replace buttons, and I don't like to spend more money to buy new pants that have been nuked at 1000 deg Kelvin with old press pads. So, their quality of service plummeted.

Reason #2 - Service Personnel.
At Drycleaner P, the long-time service rep (the clerk who greets you and takes care of your pick-ups and drop-offs was friendly, polite and helpful. The person who was hired to replace her was zombie-like in her glazed over, cold, distant manner. It comes down to the leadership (in this case the owners). I want--and I deserve--friendly service from nice people. (Hey- this is West Virginia, after all.)

Most customers, when they leave ... when they decide to quit you ... do not leave in a bombastic, confrontational way. In fact, most never even tell you that they are about to leave. They just leave. And it's because of the fact that 96% of humans prefer to avoid conflict or confrontation. We simply do not like to address the unpleasant stuff, like complaining about something. Ironically, they won't tell you that they are leaving, but they will tell others (4 to 5 people on average) why they left.

What does this mean for you and your business?

From a basic business perspective, it provides a very meaningful reminder that you can never quit striving to provide the best service at a very high quality level. It is an absolute must to have the best, most capable, friendly people interacting with your customers.

Where does marketing fit in this?

Now from a marketing perspective, this story demonstrates that you have to ask your customers if they are satisfied. They will not initiate such conversations. Ask them: "How are we doing?" "What could we do better?" "Have we done anything to irritate you or anything that has inconvenienced you lately?" Marketing geniuses understand that marketing is a conversation and also a feedback loop. They know that marketing serves two masters: 1- finding customers and 2- keeping them happy.

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Casey said...

Although asking customers is very important it’s not always necessary. With web 2.0 companies have the advantage of seeing what their customer’s have to say.
Although it’s a good idea to ask I think it’s more effective to create an online presence showing your customers you are here for them when they need you.

2:16 AM

 
Blogger Skip Lineberg said...

casey-

Thanks for sharing your insights on this important topic of customer service and customer satisfaction. Without question, Web 2.0 tactics are part of the solution, making it easier to not only "listen" to what customers are saying ... but to draw them into a conversation.

Skip

1:48 PM

 
Anonymous Mara Roberts said...

Web2.0 is great and all but practically, is it appropriate for a dry cleaner? And if it is, am i really going to write my tale about leaving the dry cleaner? I think not, customers need to be keep in touch with and asked.

5:49 AM

 
Blogger Skip Lineberg said...

Mara,

Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by, read this article and share your opinions. We appreciate you so much!

Let's see if Casey wants to advocate more strongly for her proposed social media solution.

All the best,
Skip

10:52 PM

 
Blogger Digital Autonomy said...

Most businesses are unaware that the local search enhanced results on Google Yahoo and MSN provide the ability for users to leave reviews of their experience. I have blown away my clients when I show them these results.

It's one thing to have an unhappy client out there.. it's an entirely other problem to have one who's posting and blogging about it..

1:50 PM

 
Blogger Skip Lineberg said...

Dave - digital autonomy,

Thank you for sharing your wisdom! We may need a guest column from you on the local search phenomenon. Would you be up for that?

Watch this blog for an update on this ill-fated dry cleaner.

Keep on coming back. We hope to see many more comments from you!

Skip

1:55 PM

 

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