The Right Attendants with the Proper Training Will Have Customers Viewing You and Your Staff as Their Local Laundry Experts
[This is the third of a three-part series on hiring and training laundry attendants.]
Last month, I discussed how to track a new attendant’s progress to determine whether or not that person will make a good long-term employee.
However, once you’ve decided you’ve got a “keeper” – someone who can fold clothes well, clean diligently, concentrate on the task at hand and who displays a strong work ethic – the next question is whether or not this person also can develop into a winning customer service representative for your laundry business.
At my store, new hires come in as cleaners, folders and production people. After that, perhaps they also can develop into pressers – a position that doesn’t necessarily require outstanding customer service skills. We can train attendants to do good, detailed work, but often those detail-oriented production employees aren’t as good with personal interaction; they may not be good salespeople. In other words, we most definitely can utilize employees who aren’t overly customer-service-oriented.
But, for those employees who display a knack for dealing with the public, we offer advanced training to help these individuals become great customer service representatives.
Of course, this training involves knowing how to do laundry the way we do it at our store, as well as understanding all of our products and services. By processing wash-dry-fold orders for a few months, employees begin to get an understanding of these products and the industry in general.
Next, with customer service candidates, we give them the opportunity to learn about the drycleaning process. Occasionally, we’ll have these employees visit our partner drycleaner to learn what it’s all about. In addition, I’ll suggest they view certain YouTube videos detailing the drycleaning process.
The keys to being a stellar customer service representative are having a great knowledge base, as well as the ability to convey a sense of security to the customer – so that our clients feel comfortable letting us take care of their expensive suits, beautiful down comforters or whatever the items might be. They need to convey that we are laundry professionals and that we know what we’re doing.
We’ve already trained these attendants how to clean clothes – now we need to train them how to confidently pass along that information to customers with authority. The truth of the matter is that some people have this ability, and some people don’t.
All we can do is provide attendants with the right knowledge and see what they can do with it. At the store, my manager and I will have a trainee work with us while we’re interacting with customers. We’ll also conduct role-playing exercises with these employees, setting up certain situations and asking the attendants for the proper responses.
Frequently, we’ll work together with an employee that we’re training – perhaps folding items or taking in drycleaning orders – and we’ll ask the trainee specific questions right on the spot about what we’re working on. For instance, if we get in a silk skirt, we might ask the attendant to determine what kind of material it is by the feel and the look of it.
Then, we might ask this individual to explain to us – as if we were customers – why we charge $1 more to process silk garments, why it’s important to differentiate between fabrics, how silk needs to be cleaned differently, why it requires extra time and so on.
When we’re training a candidate who we think will be good customer service representative, we’ll ask a question and provide the correct answer – then, maybe a week or two later, we’ll this trainee the same question again.
By reiterating these common scenarios and questions (along with the proper responses) about three or four times and conducting the other training I’ve mentioned, we often can develop a first-rate customer service representative. At this point, we’ve got an attendant who not only knows what we do in our store, but also has in-depth knowledge of the laundering and drycleaning processes. This type of person can be a true asset to the business, whether taking in wash-dry-fold or drycleaning orders, or simply answering customer questions.
If you have the right employees with the right training, you can create an environment at your store where you aren’t just the neighborhood laundromat but a business of laundry professionals – and customers will look to you and your staff as their local laundry experts.