MY FIRST ENCOUNTER
The dry cleaners that I used for 20 to 30 years closed a couple years ago. I tried a dry cleaner a friend used and was dissatisfied due to the horrid odor in my clothes that lingered for too long. In the meantime, my dry cleaning and oversized laundry needs piled up as I was afraid to try another company.
A friend told me about a dry cleaner that she had heard many good things about. So I decided to take a chance. I gathered up part of my growing pile and went to Yun’s Cleaners. An Asian lady was running the shop. She greeted me and I asked if she also did laundry. I was very relieved that she said “Yes.”
Like a good businessperson, she asked me how I found her. I told her about my friend and also about my bad experience with the odor from another dry cleaner. She said that would not be the case with her and she explained why. Her explanation sounded good to me, but I was rather desperate at this time. She carefully counted all the things I had brought, filled out a ticket and gave me a copy. She said my things would be done the following Thursday.
I have to admit that the first encounter with this dear lady was not so memorable except that I was impressed that she asked how I found her. The following Monday (three days before my things were to be ready), I had a voice mail from her and a follow-up phone call telling me everything was ready. I had never had a dry cleaner call me before. In fact, my understanding with other dry cleaners was if you did not remember to pick up your things, they would be disposed of after so many days.
When I arrived to pick up my cleaning, the lady greeted me by name and immediately, without looking at my ticket, started to collect my things. I was amazed that she actually remembered me.
As she brought out the eight ties I had had cleaned for my husband, she told me she had mended the seams where they were coming apart! Neither I nor my husband would ever have known that the seams were coming apart.
After I paid her, she gave me a lint roller as a gift. She had them there for sale, but this was a very thoughtful and useful gift. What a way to thank a first-time customer!
This little lady, much shorter than I am (and I’m short!), helped me carry all my things to my van. She was ever so careful about laying everything just so. There was no doubt in my mind that this lady cared deeply about everything she cleaned.
Then this lovely lady put her arms around me and gave me the biggest bear hug and repeated, “I'm so glad you found me!” She was all smiles and truly grateful. She made me feel like I was 10 feet tall and like I had really done something wonderful! I felt as if I had truly found a new friend, and it was then that I learned that her name was Yun Kim, owner of Yun’s Cleaners, Winchester, VA.
When I got home and started putting things away, I then discovered something else special. Each hanger had a paper cover reading “We love our customers.” It reminded me of a mail order company I deal with. Every order from them comes wrapped in tissue paper with a heart-shaped sticker reading, “Packed with Love.” These things may sound trivial to you but it really makes a very positive impression on me.
I had left more things with Yun when I picked up the first batch. She again called early to tell me they were ready. When I returned, she again helped me to carry things to my car and very carefully laid everything out. Then she turned and gave me another big hug, repeating, “I'm so glad you are my customer!” and smiling from ear to ear. How could I not feel absolutely wonderful and appreciated? Each time, I left with joy and warm fuzzies that I carried with me throughout the day.
CUSTOMER CARE OVER THE TOP
When you interact with your customers, whether a designer or a retail homeowner, how do you make them feel? How many ways do you show each customer with each encounter that they are truly appreciated? Through only one transaction with Yun, she demonstrated in seven ways that she was not just glad but very, very, very glad to have my business.
I’m not sure if Yun is priced any higher than her competition, but even if she is higher, do you think I would go to any other dry cleaner now? My only regret is that I didn’t find her sooner!
I’m sure you are already doing some of these things, and so are your competitors. The major difference in Yun and her competition is that she is doing what nobody else is doing. That is what sets her apart. Society today might find the thought of giving a customer a bear hug going a bit too far, but I’m here to tell you that it made a world of difference to me! Cleaning clothes would be one of the last things I would think that would cause this kind of reaction. Certainly all the love and attention to detail that you put into your custom window treatments would be a phenomenal reason to pass out hugs!
If you did not have customers, you would be out of business. Making all your customers feel special and important is a major key to your success. I believe it is impossible to overdo showing a customer that you truly appreciate them. If your customers feel like I did when I left Yun’s, then you can bet they are going to be telling the world how wonderful you are. So, go ahead. Put a big smile on your face, hug your next customer, and tell her “I'm so glad you are my customer!”
Kitty Stein, CWP, WCAA past board member, is a 29-year veteran of the drapery workroom industry. She has owned both retail and wholesale drapery workrooms as one person and as a company of nine, and she is the founder and past owner of Workroom Concepts, a consulting firm offering educational resources to the industry. Her experience includes professional speaking and writing for two industry trade magazines. She currently owns Kitty Stein & Co., which supplies industry vendors with the industry-specific products she has authored including Order in the Workroom, The Price List, Workroom Specifications, and Price Your Work with Confidence, available through D&WC.