Efficient, Thorough Customer Education

The October edition of American Laundry News’ Panel of Experts has been released, and our own David Bernstein weighs in on the topic of educating laundry customers on cleanliness and best practices. Read his and the other Experts’ comments on the American Laundry News web site, or see below for David’s contribution.

Providing education during a pandemic can, as we’ve seen with the start of a new school year, prove to be quite challenging.

This is particularly true when we consider the need to provide education to customers not only on the benefits of the current products and services for which they are contracted, but also for new product and service offerings you would like them to consider.

Our industry provides reusable products that have been professionally cleaned so that our customers (and theirs) can be assured that their businesses are as hygienic and sanitary as possible. We can also provide them with facility service and other products to enhance not only the cleanliness and hygiene of their businesses, but also to enhance their overall image.

With this in mind, now is the perfect time to provide more education and training not only to solidify your position as a trusted and valued partner, but to also increase each of your customer’s lifetime value.

The issue, of course, is that there are restrictions in place among many of our customers’ businesses such that it is difficult to make normal customer service and/or education visits. As with all things, however, every problem has a solution. And, as with many problems I address, modern technology can provide some cost-effective and powerful solutions.

Let’s start with the most obvious, which is to provide sales presentations, consultations and training for your customers via online meeting software such as Zoom, WebEx, BlueJeans, Google Hangouts, Facetime or Skype.

Like most people during the pandemic, I’ve used Zoom for telehealth appointments; cocktails with far-away family members and friends; family holiday, birthday and anniversary celebrations; and I’ve used it quite extensively for business purposes as well.

Most relevant to this topic was the time my wife and I had a virtual in-home consultation with a window manufacturer who was able to use Zoom to provide training on the benefits of his products versus his competition and to “walk through” our home with us helping us to select just the right products to replace our existing windows.

Within minutes after the conclusion of our online meeting, we had a detailed and accurate quotation via e-mail.

If a window manufacturer can provide that level of education, interaction and consultation via online meeting software, so can your sales and service teams.

Online meetings do not always have to be one-to-one. To further maximize time and efficiency, you can also provide webinars, group training, and demonstrations of new products and services via Zoom and other online meeting platforms so that a subset of your customers can all benefit from simultaneous training, as well as the all-important question-and-answer session at the end.

There are some products and services that may not lend themselves to live education, and those are oftentimes best demonstrated via YouTube, Vimeo or some other online video-sharing application.

Think about the last time you had a home improvement project you’d never tackled before, and chances are your first, and perhaps only, online visit was to YouTube. Too often, however, folks in our industry don’t consider offering training and education via YouTube because they are intimidated by the platform or the perceived cost and complexity of producing videos.

Thanks to our friends at Apple and Samsung, we have most of the tools we need to produce simple, yet effective training and education videos right in our purses or pockets.

Once the video has been shot, you can edit using Apple’s free iMovie (available on Macs, iPhones and iPads), GoPro’s free Quik video editing software (no GoPro needed!), Adobe Premiere Rush, or a variety of other free or open-source video editors for Windows, Linux and Android, including the very capable OpenShot open source video editor.

Finally, you can and should provide additional education and lead generation via company eNewsletters, blogs and the effective use of social media including not just LinkedIn, but also Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok or Reels.

We’ve all needed to find new ways of adapting to and navigating the so-called “new normal” of COVID, and finding ways to provide customer education and training is no different.

The ideas I’ve mentioned are simple and cost-effective, and not only give you a great way to provide that education, but they are all superb vehicles for helping customers and prospects to learn about your company culture and personality.

It is for these reasons that I think these new methods will survive long past our current international emergency.

The above article originally appeared in American Laundry News.