My customer heart is broken once again. Breaking up with someone you have trusted and invested time with is tough. No one starts a relationship thinking how it would end, after all.
Today, I had to end my relationship with my laundry shop, Teves Dry Cleaning and Steam Laundry in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, because the owner simply did not care about her customers.
I bring my delicate clothes to this laundry because they are strict in following the washing instructions. They tell you if the item is strictly for dry clean, hand wash or gentle cycle machine wash for the less delicate items. Jackie, the wonderful woman you will meet when you enter their small shop, is smart, friendly and passionate about her work. She actually reads the tiny labels hidden inside our clothes and is firm in her recommendations. If she is unsure about the fabric, and there were no washing instructions, she will not hesitate to tell the customer that they cannot accept it.
I cannot say they have been perfect. There were a few minor misses over the years, but I was in denial and told myself, maybe it was my fault.
A few weeks ago, as I was rearranging our wardrobe, I noticed a hole in my husband’s knit sweater, still bearing the tag of Teves’ sorting system. When I brought the sweater to Teves for Jackie to see, I saw that there were actually 5 holes all over the sweater. My point was clear – 1) this sweater was accepted for machine wash, 2) it was pressed after washing – how come no one called out that there were 5 very visible holes and made the decision that the customer should be informed.
Maybe they thought they can get lucky if it gets overlooked by the customer.
This experience made me suspicious so I checked the other sweaters in my closet. one other cardigan of mine was a sad victim. It had 8 big holes in different places.
I brought it to Jackie the next day and I requested for the owner to call me up. I told Jackie, this is additional stress I don’t need and I would like for Teves to just replace these two sweaters, and we do not have to speak about it ever again.
Two weeks later still no call, so I decided to drop by today. Jackie was obviously briefed on what excuses to say and was ready to take blame. She said it was her fault she did not make me sign their waiver. So I replied, are you telling me that if my clothes end up getting holes in them, it’s my fault if I had signed your waiver? Their waiver says that sorting will not be done for machine-washed items, but the thing is, we did inspect every item and sorted them according to the type of washing, getting clearance from Jackie. She kept saying it’s her fault that she misjudged the item, even if it says in the tag it can be machine-washed. I had to remind her that it’s not their first time to wash these sweaters!
My gentle customer heart lost it at this point, I raised my voice and told Jackie that what pisses me off is how the owner cannot take accountability and have the decency to talk to me. That she will let Jackie take the blame and pay for it. Clearly, she did not care about Jackie nor her customers.
Ms. Teves, whoever you are, as Jackie would not give your complete name, I have paid your high rates because I trusted that with your premium charges come a certain level of care and quality in service. I was so wrong. You do not deserve my business and you do not deserve the loyalty of Jackie, who tearfully shared with me how she appreciated my understanding and kindness in spite of what happened, that she understood where I was coming from. And unlike your other customers who would shout at her and throw hangers at her because of anger (which means there were other victims like me), I still treated her with respect. I reassured Jackie that this was not her fault and it hurts me that she had to pay for this because her boss could not take the responsibility herself.
With a heavy heart, I let Jackie deduct a minimal amount from my remaining bill, knowing that she was going to pay for it. But if I did not fight for my right as a customer, then businesses such as this one will not care ever and learn from their mistakes.
Wearing my hat as a Customer Experience Consultant, what Ms. Teves should have done was:
- To call or at least send an SMS thanking the customer for the feedback and acknowledging the complaint, and that they will investigate what caused the damage, give a date when she will update the customer again.
- Contact the customer (in my case, I requested a phone call) and explain what could have caused it and explain how they could prevent this from happening again (to try to recover my trust again)
- Ask for the value of the sweaters damaged, plus damages for the inconvenience caused (because I will not find the exact same sweater from the store again) then offer to have this value be deducted from the customer’s laundry bill.
These are the bare minimum in handling a complaint such as mine. It would not cost Ms. Teves so much time and money, in fact.
Teves failed big time on customer service and recovery due to the following:
- No proactiveness to contact the customer, they had to wait for me to follow-up and visit the shop again
- No apology given, only a “pasensya na po” was said (this phrase makes my blood boil)
- No communication with customer to express desire to investigate their lapses on quality control and find solutions to avoid it from happening again
- Giving the excuse that they failed to make me sign a waiver, which became Jackie’s fault, that’s why the owner is making her pay for it. The waiver then becomes the perfect excuse to put the blame on the customer! (Bravo!)
- Blaming the customer that I should have reported the damaged clothing within 24 hours, when they should be the ones informing me about it before or as they released the items to me.
If Ms. Teves stood for customer service excellence, which obviously, she didn’t, she would have asked her staff (because she’s probably too busy and too important to do these things herself) to go to the nearest mall and replace the damaged sweaters (which was what I really wanted them to do). But we’re in the real world, and real Customer Love rarely exists, we can only dream about it for now.
As I said my final goodbye to Jackie and her team, I left their shop with a heavy heart. I silently wished another laundry shop would hire Jackie, she’s a gem, sadly her employer does not seem to recognize that.
Breakups are never easy. No one wins in the end.
Kaizad Patel’s interview was featured on The Rodinhoods blog today.
Customer service is something that drives me in my company, and interviewing Kaizad Patel was thus an honor. He runs SatisFIND, which uses qualitative and quantitative methods to understand how your customer experiences your brand and its offering. Kaizad was one of the first to venture into Mystery Shopping in India, back in 2001.
Do tell us about your school & college years, and key lessons learnt.
To read the full interview