Often times your customers may have a problem with your service or product because their expectations were not in line with what your business could sufficiently provide. I noticed this with my business when a new cohort of customers were suddenly unhappy with the same level of service that previous customers had been ecstatic with. I had to ask myself two questions in order to solve this problem: Why are they unhappy? And what can I do about it?
My customers were unhappy because they didn’t understand that our price list was not exhaustive (even though it stated it was not) , and thus assumed that the garments they sent for us to be cleaned were priced at something on that list. Without boring you too much about dry cleaning details, garments made of linen, silk, down, not to mention garments with pleats and other hard to clean clothing styles, all take extra time and care to clean, thus requiring a higher price. I suddenly noticed that these new customers did not know this and were complaining every time their cleaning cost more than what they had expected. (Just a side note, there are about 700 items to be priced for a dry cleaner so listing them all can be difficult).
Now comes the answer to my second question. What can I do about it? First I tried to please any customer already served as best I could. At the same time I realized that to avoid these problems I needed to educate all my new customers about these details. Every email that was sent out to a new customer received a brief paragraph explaining the need for extra care on particular items, and every new customer spoken to over the phone received the same short and concise lesson.
The conclusion: no more complaints! New customers excepted the fact that their clothing may not be what they had thought. By taking 30 seconds to simply educate my customer and ground their expectations frustration was avoided on both sides. The problem is, you may not know what the problems will be until they come up, as was the case with our promotion.
In my previous post on customer service I explain how I dealt with some of these complaints, which might be useful. And lastly, this article by Richard Branson made me think a lot about this problem. I highly recommend reading it, the man knows a thing or two about running a successful business.