Customer Service Is Everyone’s Business

Posted on: December 5th, 2022 by Valerie Wetlaufer | No Comments

Customer service has always been a guiding value at CITY, but what exactly does that entail? The value of customer service cannot be overstated. How does that play out at CITY?

Serving Customers is the Core of Our Business

Simply put, we solve problems for our customers, providing solutions to keep businesses clean and safe, supplying everything from uniforms to mats to facility services to first aid supplies, and more, meaning that’s one less thing a customer needs to worry about. Serving customers and meeting their need for a cleaner, safer workplace is what we do at CITY, but looking beyond just the physical products offered, it’s a service industry, meeting and anticipating needs and making our clients’ workdays a little easier.


“What we do can change the whole mood of someone’s day,” said President Colin Wetlaufer. “There are a lot of customer needs that we can take care of even before the customer realizes a problem. That is what makes us a lot more than a contracted service.”



Our solutions aren’t one-size-fits-all but flexible, making the adjustments necessary to meet the needs of our clients. While there are certainly similarities among companies in the various industries we serve, in health care, food processing, industrial manufacturing, and wholesale trade, we also understand that each client has unique needs and have therefore put into place structures to allow us to adapt to those divergent needs.


Our inventory management has flexibility built in, which allows new hires to get into uniforms faster. CITY has created a variety of inventory and billing strategies to allow for adaptable options for all our clients. One such program is the CITY Asset Management (CAM) system. CAM is an all-inclusive billing program and pricing methodology that eliminates the typical billing issues in the uniform industry.


Our customers tell us they love that it offers transparency, which improves communication and allows clients to predict billing for budgeting purposes. Uniforms are a service provided to people, and with the millions of variables that can occur in just one person’s life, the management of uniform and facility services inventory can be volatile.


CAM’s simplicity guarantees transparency, and our billing system is efficient and prevents unnecessary or inaccurate charges. “When studies are done to learn why it is that clients are frustrated and leave their uniform rental and laundry service provider, the top three reasons given are shortages, repairs not being done, and a lack of fair and accurate billing,” said Colin. “We felt like CAM really was an answer to all three issues; there are never any extra charges, and the billing is transparent. The relationship we have with a client should be like a partnership, and eliminating means of conflict and providing a clean and simple process is how we foster that relationship for the long run.”


Building Strong, Responsive Relationships


We always strive to build long-term partnerships by developing genuine relationships, which helps us best know and meet each customer’s needs so they can focus on growing their business.


As Chriss Carsello, CITY’s Strategic Partnership expert puts it, “We deliver clean. We pick up dirty. It’s what happens in the middle that makes or breaks a service.”


What happens in the in-between is all about building relationships through creating peace of mind for our customers. It also means spending time getting to know the customers as people and, when issues arise, listening to those needs, and collaborating with the client to find a solution that works for them.


This starts by cultivating a service-minded team and always doing our best to be responsive.


Our Route Service Representatives see customers frequently and develop meaningful relationships. When Mike Kerns retired from CITY after 22 years as a Route Service Rep, one longtime customer, Al Wright, owner at John’s Automotive, said he considers Mike family. “He has always been like family to us, and has a great attitude, and takes great care of us. We have a potluck before Thanksgiving every year, and there’s always a seat for Mike.”


While many customers shared similar sentiments in Mike’s retirement video, these strong ties with customers are common among our employees because we only hire those who are service-minded and who understand that, as an RSR, they are the face of the company.


“As a Route Service Representative, you learn how to deal with problems, and you learn how to solve them. I think one of the biggest opportunities I’ve had was starting at the ground level. It teaches you service and how CITY sets itself apart from the competition. Responsive communication is the key,” Customer Care Manager Ken Schnor said.


“Laundry is such an intimate part of a business. There has never been a climate that required more attention to our customer’s businesses than now [since the COVID-19 pandemic],” Colin said. “Being able to have good relationships with our customers, knowing they have faith in you is key and I think it’s everything.”



Customer Service Is Everyone’s Job


We understand that it’s not only our Route Service Representatives or Customer Relations Managers who impact the customer experience. Every employee plays an important role in driving the customer experience and supporting the structure to be as responsive as possible. We try to instill that knowledge in every employee.


CITY President Colin Wetlaufer explains it this way: “We offer the same products as our competitors, but it is the little things that separate us. One of the great things about working at CITY, from a production standpoint, is that what you do today affects someone the next day or, at the very least, the next week.”


Customer service is not just one department but an ethos throughout the company.


Eastern Iowa Regional Manager Marty Kruse explains the full team approach this way: “Customer service is going above and beyond the customer’s expectations. What I mean by that is if they call in or have a request or an issue at hand, not only do you solve it, but you give them a step-by-step action plan of what you’re going to do. You get every level within the service team involved, whether it be the route rep, district manager, or regional manager, you all have a game plan, you all communicate back to the customer in a very timely manner, be transparent with them, don’t oversell what you’re going to do for them, be realistic with what you can do and how you’re going to get there, and then just continue to follow up with them.”


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