I remember an incident with a customer in Benin, Edo State. Days after a marketing campaign, I got a call to come and pick up some clothes from a big fashion designer around my second collection center in Uselu.
On getting there, the designer’s assistants brought a big sack full of clothes. Assisted by an associate, I counted those clothes—this took about 20 minutes which is a lot of cost in time for that particular task—and gave her the bill.
Despite the fact that I was ostentatiously dressed, the lady told me the bill was outrageous. She said, “You use a tiny bar of soap to wash a ton of clothes. How can you now give me such a high bill?”
As unpleasant as the lady’s comment might sound, it represents one of the dominant questions customers often asked me.
For the lady, the challenge wasn’t so much the payment of the bill; rather it was a question of what she got in perceived or actual value from my business.
As a matter of fact, it has become commonplace for customers to think cleaners make “wealth” without creating value. And this is a major cause of resistance to buying laundry services by potential and existing customers.
Small cleaners’ experiences with customers are worse owing to lack of business infrastructure like marketing and branding, tastefully furnished storefronts, excellent customer service, and so forth.
Going by the nature of laundry transactions, what customers think they’re buying, what they consider “value” is important. And judged by customers’ satisfaction surveys, value represents: low prices and saved time.
From a personal point, I feel cleaners shouldn’t only solve customers’ current problems but always try to anticipate new ones. This is the only way they can introduce innovations that add value to customers.
It is established that cleaners perform laundry tasks in exchange for money.
Nevertheless, what is paid for is satisfaction. Because no cleaner can make or supply satisfaction as such—at best, only the services to attaining them can be sold or delivered.
However, to get value laundry services, customers should ask: “How often do our cleaners develop innovations within and outside their businesses that help us get stress-free grooming?”
Conversely, to describe the need, isn’t to satisfy it. But describing the need gives specifications for receiving such value services.
Whether cleaners have cultures with capacities for delivering them can then be decided.
In conclusion, adopting a policy of consistently asking questions—not in the manner of that fashion designer in Uselu, Benin City—will help customers get value laundry services, and consequently, more satisfaction from their dry-cleaners.