"All cleaners know that
the front counter staff has to engage in a positive way with customers - it's
what sets us apart from everyone else," said owner David Whitehurst. How
Champion Cleaners in Birmingham, Alabama, achieves this goal may be different
from other cleaners. Opening in 2002, Champion Cleaners has three retail
locations that include a package plant at each location. Whitehurst relies on
his plant managers and assistant plant managers to train and direct the CSRs. "The
plant managers' skill set has become more people-oriented over the years as we
have changed to a hydrocarbon solvent. Our plant managers' knowledge of the
cleaning process and first-hand experiences help CSRs answer at-the-counter
questions as they occur. Our CSRs aren't guessing if we can clean an item.
They can ask the plant manager and that goes a long way in providing the type
of service that we want to give to all of our customers."
The customer first
attitude is reinforced by Whitehurst himself. Each retail location
predominately displays his personal cell phone number on the front door.
Customers are encouraged to call him after-hours if they need help. Whitehurst
wants to be sure his customers know he too is on the line for great customer
service. "A lot of owners don't want to be this involved," said David, "It's
the best way I know to be sure everyone – from our employees to our customers, know
that service is our number one priority."
When asked if mystery
shopping was worth the expense, Whitehurst was adamant, "Absolutely, unless you
are at your stores 100% of the time or have a single location, don't think you
know what's going on. You need to know what goes on when you aren't there. The
only way to deliver better service is to improve constantly. If you don't do what you ought to it's because you
don't know what you need to do.
"With our DLI/MarketWise
mystery shopping program it's as if you have a test and know all of the
questions and are given all of the answers," Whitehurst said. "The mystery
shopping program keeps the importance of asking about spots and stains and
recommending services in the front of our CSRs minds. Each month the location
with the highest overall scores are awarded a pizza party. Everyone who is
responsible for helping at the location is rewarded for great customer service."
Whitehurst continued, "Mystery
shopping has pointed out that it’s often the simple things that we struggle
with. My goal is to empower my managers and CSRs to solve our customers'
problem. It's easy to give the customer a refund. We want the CSRs to become
advocates for their customers. We encourage CSRs to go to the plant
manager/assistant manager and fix the problem for the customer. I work to
convince our staff that it's the customers who pay their salary – not me, the
business owner. Your staff needs to understand that it's up to them to increase
revenue – that's why the suggestive selling part of the mystery shopping survey
is so important to us. If, as a business we don’t increase sales, then there
can be no salary increases and no new jobs and quite possibly a decrease in
employment. Mystery shopping keeps us ahead. We can fix service problems before
we see a drop in revenue. I can’t imagine waiting until a location shows a drop
in revenue to make changes. Mystery shopping keeps us ahead of the situation."
Keeping a positive
customer service attitude at the counter isn’t always easy. When asked what he
would do if he received terrible scores instead of the top scores for 2016,
Whitehurst said, "Train and explain to your CSRs that your customers are people,
just like you. You don't know what they are going through. If you have
problems, keep them to yourself. Think of this as an acting job. If you aren't
happy, make your customers think you are. Making a connection with your
customers and providing them with a positive experience helps us all."
MarketWise Consulting in
Appleton, Wisconsin, administers DLI mystery shopping program and publishes
overall mystery shopping scores twice a year. For more information on the
program, click here: http://marketwi.com.
DLI members get discounted
or free access to this service depending on membership category. For more
information about how to participate in the DLI "Essential" mystery shopping
program, click on http://marketwise.shopmetrics.com/iwr.asp?project=DLIRegistration and MarketWise Consulting will
e-mail details and pricing information.