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Choose your words carefully

Drycleaner Once or twice a week, I walk into my neighborhood dry cleaners with an armful of shirts.  As the clerk (and it doesn't matter which one) approaches the counter, they hopefully ask "just dropping off?"

And I always reply, "Nope, I need to pick up as well." 

Then, as if it was a choreographed part of their business, they take in a little breath and turn back to walk to the computer, to look up my order number.

I'm pretty sure they're completely unaware that they do it.  Or that it is so embedded in the culture of the company that they ALL do it.

But they message they transmit is "it's kind of a pain to have to get your stuff for you.  I wish you were just dropping off."

I never leave feeling as though they appreciate my business.  I leave feeling bad that I inconvenienced them.

Imagine how different it would feel if they approached the counter with a "do you have an order to pick up too?"

Tiny tweak.  Major difference.

Are you sure you're transmitting the message you want your customers to receive? Are you sure there's nothing in your company's culture/customer interaction that could use a tiny tweak?


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Great post, Drew. My dry-cleaners do the same thing. Have you ever pointed it out to the manager or owner? Like you said, it's a self awareness thing. It would be interesting if you mailed this post to the dry cleaners in town. I wonder what kind of reaction you would get.

Great stuff.

I have to say that last week I picked up my shirts. Even though I had asked for "heavy startch," when I the shirts in my closet I realized that they hardly seemed to have any starch at all.

I called the dry cleaners and told them about the problem.

The woman's response was "Well, some shirts don't hold the startch very well."

I said "I've never had the problem before."

She then thougth for a moment and said, "Well... next time why don't you as for EXTRA heavy starch? That might help."

Well... that might help.

And I may ask for EXTRA heavy starch somewhere... but you can bet that I'll be asking for it from a different dry cleaner all together.

Keep up the great posts Drew!


My guess is that most people who work for or own a dry cleaners have had very little customer service training and so they are literally clueless. They don't even hear how absurd or indifferent they sound.

Which of course, is good news for the rare dry cleaners that get it enough to prepare their staff properly.

Instead of just offering to re-wash/starch your shirts (cost to them, maybe $10) she has lost a customer and probably close to $50-100 a month. That adds up pretty quick.


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