National Clothesline
National Clothesline
Editorials
Building trust and keeping it
According to Ernest Hemingway: “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” Trust is delicate, especially when it comes to a business and its customers. According to research recently released by Nielsen, people are more hesitant than ever to trust advertisement claims. Less than half of the 28,000 online respondents from 56 countries said they trust ads on television, for example. Yet, 92 percent of those people also noted that they trust earned media such as word-of-mouth or recommendations from friends and family above all other advertising, 18 percent greater than a similar study conducted five years ago. Even online consumer reviews from strangers generate trust. Nielsen’s findings in 2009 suggested that seven out of ten people trust recommendations from unknown users online.
Yelp, perhaps the most popular forum for such reviews, has taken its share of hits lately and it remains to be seen how much public trust will diminish as a result. First, Yelp Inc. was cleared by a federal judge in a proposed class action lawsuit which claimed the company threatened to downgrade site ratings for its clients if they did not advertise. Then, Dietz Development filed a $750,000 lawsuit against Yelp user Jane Perez who posted a scathing review against them. The judge ordered Perez to take down parts of her reviews including claims that could not be corroborated by police.
Unfortunately, everybody involved in either case has lost something more than court fees. Reputations on all sides have been tarnished and it started when things became contentious enough to be settled by litigation. While Yelp may receive over 50 million unique users to its site each month, it’s quite likely that consumers will trust those ratings significantly less in the future. The lesson? Don’t let things reach that point. There is almost always another option.
A recent example of this would be a mix-up by Best Buy during the busy holiday season. The retailer accidentally shipped five iPads to a customer who only ordered one. When contacted about it, Best Buy admitted their error and told the customer to keep all five and give them to whoever might need them. The company was certainly within its right to ask for the iPads back and perhaps the customer would have done so with no hard feelings. However, Best Buy wisely did not take the chance. Consider this: if you Google the words “Best Buy five ipads” the search results exceed 236 million. Their $2,000 mistake produced a ton of publicity in social media circles, and, of course, such word-of-mouth advertising is priceless and tends to be viewed in a positive light. Maybe that won’t save the struggling retailer in the long run, but it certainly is a move in the right direction. It is one step closer to achieving public trust.
Not an ending world, just a different one
So the world didn’t end last month as some predicted (surprise, surprise) and here we are in 2013. We hope that hasn’t taken you by surprise and, more so, that you have been thinking about and planning how to build your business in this coming year.
There’s an old saying that a rising tide lifts all boats. Unfortunately for the drycleaning industry, the tide has been out for a few years now and a rising tide doesn’t appear on the horizon, so if you have been waiting for that high tide to lift your boat, you will likely continue to wait… and wait. Meanwhile, many cleaners are making changes to adapt to what DLI’s Mary Scalco calls “the new normal.” Some of those changes involve internal operations that can lead to greater efficiencies — more profit per piece, so to speak. But there is danger in getting caught up in the internal workings and overlooking a more important part of the equation, namely the customers who provide those pieces.
Customers seem to be fewer in number these days, or at least they’re making fewer trips to the cleaners. What are your plans to keep your existing customers? How about getting more business from those customers? Are they aware of all the services you offer? Is there perhaps some other service they would use if you provided it?
There’s a “new normal” for customers, too. They expect greater convenience, whether it’s when they visit your store or you coming to their homes to pick up and deliver. They expect to be able to do business with you on the Internet. How’s your web site? Does it show up in a Google search? Does it explain all of your services? Are your locations and contact information current and easy to find? Can customers interact with you through social media? These are basic expectations of today’s customers and it’s really not that hard to meet them.
So no, the world isn’t ending. But it is changing. Failing to adapt to that change could be the end for your business.

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