The Importance of Listening Skills and the Impact of a Negative Online Review

I experienced the most terrible customer service last Friday in Dewitt Cleaners Inc. The manager does not possess any listening skills and accused me for several faults. I posted my review on Google, and I believe that we can learn a good lesson from the manager’s bad example.
The Story

I brought to the store three pieces of Ralph Lauren brand-new garments in late September of 2011 (I always wash my new clothes before wearing them). The girl who greeted me was nice --- she put my info in the system as a first-time customer, inspected my clothes, told me I could pick it up in a week or so, and put the cloths in the basket for dirty clothes.

On Oct 1 (at 12:46 pm), a girl from the dry cleaning called me, telling me that the long jacket must be sent out to a special cleaner because it has leather trims in several places. As a result, it will take two more weeks. The other two pieces (suit) can be picked up as scheduled.

I came back two weeks later as what I was told on Oct 1. When I was in the store, I was told that my jacket had not yet been returned to the shop. I was asked to come back the next week.

On Oct. 25, I called the store and asked if the jacket was ready to pick up before heading to the store. I was told my jacket was ready, and I could pick it up at any time.

In the evening of Oct. 26, I came to the store to pick up my jacket. The girl did not find it. She asked me to come back in the next week. I then insisted that she need to find the jacket for me as it had taken for so long --- three weeks! After 10 to 15 minutes of searching, the girl located my jacket in the back. I took the jacket home. When I hang my jacket in the closet, I found a couple blue stains on the fabrics. Plus, the khaki color looked darker than it used to be.

I took the jacket back to the store on Oct 28 and talked to the manager and asked for a solution --- a minimum a re-wash. I also wanted to bring to the manager’s attention that it took me a whole month just for trying to have a jacket cleaned. It is ridiculously long, would you agree?

Meeting the Manager Who Did Not Listen AND Accused an Innocent Customer

His name is Kevin. He came out from the back. When I pointed out the stains, he first told me: “It looks like paints. Somebody put the paints on the cloths when he wore it … The person wore it like this and put the paints in two spots (he was demonstrating to me what could have happened).” I told him that it was a brand new garment and I had never worn that jacket before --- I had not even opened all pockets by cutting all sewing lines yet. Then, he told me: “I know my business. It is IMPOSSIBLE to get any paints on the cloths in our store.” Then, he asked me where I brought the clothes. I told him I brought that from a Ralph Lauren store. He suggested: “the paints might be already on the clothes when you brought it!” I told him that was not the case. Then, he was telling me how the clothes need to be cleaned by the professionals in Canada and blah, blah, blah, which was not helpful in solving the problem.

When I was trying --- indeed just trying --- to tell him the whole story. He never allowed me to finish my story. He always jumped in to defend himself --- I have tried many times, but he never got the part of when his staff searching for 10 – 15 minutes to locate my jacket. His response was always like: “Oh, I have listened. I know exactly what you are trying to say. You just want to repeat the same thing.”



He asked me for my phone number again in the end. According to him, his store only keeps 315 numbers (area code for Syracuse), but mine starts with the area code of 806. I told him that my number must be stored in the system already because his staff called me before. He said: “the system does not keep the numbers other than the ones starting with 315.” I was thinking --- if that’s the case, why can the girl call me three weeks ago from the store? WHOM AM I TALKING TO? DOES THIS SO-CALL MANAGER EVEN KNOW THE OPERATIONS OF HIS STORE?

I knew it was useless to speak with this man. I was ready to leave the store. Then, he added: “Be NICE!” People who have spent time with me know that I do not get angry easily and I always remain calm. I told him: “I was nice, but you NEVER listened.” He said: “you just repeated the same thing. I knew what you say. Oh, do NOT come back again … you will waste your time if you come back without hearing from us.” What service is that? I wonder how he can get promoted to a managerial position. It is possible that he is a hard worker and/or has excellent administrative skills, but I am very positive that he has extremely poor customer service skills.

He should not have accused an innocent customer before even listening to him/her --- I did nothing wrong in this case. Plus, I have been extremely patient by waiting for one month for the dry cleaning service. Most of all, he should have assisted the customer in investigating the issue and better, in solving the problem.

He kept my jacket now and said he would investigate the issue and possibly help me clean the stains --- it is possible that the store KNEW exactly what happened to my new jacket. It is possible that the store kept my jacket in the back so that it could do a follow-up clean of the stains before returning the cloth to me --- remember the girls who did not find it even I was told the specialty shop has returned my jacket? What a horrible manager!!!

What Is the Impact of a Negative Review on Google?

I, myself, will never send any clothes to this dry cleaner in the future. I wrote a negative review about the store on Google --- I want to inform other customers about my terrible experience. I assume that a customer’s previous experience with a business will mediate the effects of either a negative or a positive online review. If you never visited the dry cleaning place in this case, will my experience prevent you from visiting the store? In what degree? If you visited the place before but had a positive experience, how may my negative experience influence your future visit to the store?

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