Even though providing an exceptional experience is your goal, negative feedback is bound to happen from time to time. Whether the customer has a legitimate complaint or is simply having a bad day, you can’t please everyone. And, unfortunately, unhappy customers tend to be the most vocal, sharing their negative feedback among friends and family members, on social media, and online review sites. 

Thankfully a single complaint is unlikely to derail a successful laundromat business, especially if you address it correctly. In fact, an upset customer can actually be a blessing in disguise as it offers the ultimate opportunity to earn a loyal customer while displaying your excellent customer service to other potential patrons. By carefully monitoring and responding to your business’s reviews and customer feedback, you can effectively mitigate negative situations and help turn upset customers from critics into your laundromat’s most loyal customers. 

Western State Design Blog: Converting Upset Laundromat Customers Into Loyal Ones

Monitor Feedback & Respond to All Reviewers 

In order to give your laundromat credibility as a responsive, caring company, monitor and respond to negative and positive feedback online and on social media platforms. Responding to positive feedback is easy—simply thank the person for visiting your business and for taking the time to share their review. 
On the other hand, responding to negative feedback takes quite a bit more finesse. First, thank the customer for their feedback and offer a sincere apology that their experience did not meet expectations—no matter how frustrating their comments may be. Read or listen to your critic carefully to understand the issue before commenting. 
It’s ok to ask follow-up questions—using your most apologetic, tactful tone—to make sure you address the problem correctly. However, you should never try to debate with an upset customer online, even if they’re being unreasonable, as this can make you seem petty. Instead, keep your response short, sincere, and offer your contact information for the customer to contact you directly to discuss a resolution. Feeling heard and acknowledged can help curtail the irate customer’s anger and de-escalate the situation. 
Even if you know the situation cannot be resolved for one reason or another, your written response still holds significant value. Future potential customers will read reviews for your business before visiting; if they see an unanswered negative review, they’ll believe the concern is legitimate and think your business doesn’t care. However, if you properly portray your care and concern for the situation, potential customers will get the sense that you care about each interaction and will view your laundromat as a respectful and welcoming establishment. 

Offer a Genuine Apology

However you’ve received a complaint—online, in person, or in your social feed—take stock of what your customer has said and issue an apology (whether or not you agree). Your reply should be carefully worded and well-timed or it will seem ingenuine or even combative, especially if you are face-to-face. For a written response, ask someone impartial to read it to ensure it sounds as intended. Show the party empathy and acknowledge the pain point; it may help to repeat the offending action, equipment issue, or other issue specifically to erase any generic, boilerplate tone from your apology.

Make Amends & Open a Dialogue

Making amends does not mean you need to offer a discount or refund, but you should show willingness to rectify the problem or provide an explanation of the issue. If it is a simple fix, complete it quickly and include the resolution in your reply. If not, note how you are planning to make the situation right (i.e. investigating, scheduling a repair, training staff), to prevent future complaints. When responding in a public forum and compensation is due, keep your comments general—you do not want to set a precedent or encourage scammers. Laundromat customers are usually local, so consider inviting them to talk privately, either in person or over the phone. This discussion will be more productive and satisfying for both parties than a series of online messages. 

Follow Up After Resolution

Following up after a problem has been resolved is a step that is often forgotten, but can positively influence an unhappy patron’s final opinion of your laundromat. If you’ve fixed the equipment, improved employee training, or otherwise reconciled the issue, it is important to let your reviewer—and the public—know. Leave a message on the online forum where the feedback originated and contact the customer directly with a quick note. Thank them again for their comments and invite them back to your laundromat to let them know there are no hard feelings and you truly appreciate their business. 

Create a Plan To Handle In-Store Complaints

Laundromat employees will likely encounter upset customers in your store on occasion and should be trained to handle these situations. Having a plan in place can help guide them through the process to prevent damaging reviews or even resolve the issue before it becomes a serious problem. Create a written plan and keep it in a binder at your service counter or provide it in the employee handbook for staff to reference. Here are ideas for what to include:

  • Instructions for documenting the incident
  • A list of discounts or offers employees may use to resolve issues
  • Basic do’s and don’ts (do apologize, don’t blame the customer, etc.)
  • Directions for notifying management/ownership

Always err towards generosity when handling complaints; respond with kindness and understanding; and resolve problems in a timely manner to give customers confidence in your business and help turn a negative situation into a positive experience. If your commercial washers or dryers have become a pain point and source of too many negative reviews, it may be time to upgrade your coin-operated equipment. Contact a Western State Design expert to discuss your options.