Many companies, although they claim to be customer-centric, somehow lose a sight of how their internal policies and processes might influence their users.
Today I tried to book a class in my fitness club where I pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to anything they have on the offer. To my surprise, I got the following message:
“You are not allowed to book another class until 10.06 because you have already canceled two classes this month. You may come and book the class at the reception 1/2 hour before it begins.”
I was taken aback by this message. It made me feel like a child at school who is not allowed to play with other kids because she misbehaved.
Yes, it is true that I missed two classes because of some unexpected meetings that popped up at the last moment (which is not an unusual occurrence in the life of a freelancer). I tried to cancel the class in the system but it has turned out that you are not allowed to do so in the period shorter than 3 hours prior to the beginning of the class.
But above all I felt that it is not what have have signed up for. I bought an unlimited access to the club. Doesn’t it mean that I can come (or don’t) whenever I have an opportunity? Or is there another meaning of ‘unlimited’ that I am unaware of?
Is there another meaning of ‘unlimited’ that I am unaware of?
This booking system is an enabler for the club to see what is the level of interest in different activities. It helps them to plan their offer. But is has little to offer the customer in a small and not too busy club. It seems that it is more beneficial for me not to book the class and just show up than do it.
Many companies seem to be looking at the tools and services they offer from a selfish perspective. Their own interest. Their benefit. They try to make their life simpler and somehow don’t quite pay attention to whether they are not making the lives of their customers more difficult because of that.
Being selfish is not wrong per se. But if you forget who you are doing your business for is a moment when things start to go wrong. Customers are really sensitive to how they are treated. I might be an extreme example as looking for such missteps is my profession. But over and over again, business after business, I can see that customers sense when they are being treated like milking cows (and children at the same time) and not like a treasured partner.
Loosing customer trust is easy
In the abundance of the fitness offer in a big city like Warsaw, changing a club is not much of a challenge. Yes, I am stuck with this particular club for another 6 months. But I am already looking for an alternative. Because, what does such a process tell about them?
It tells me that they are not understanding their customers. They are taking decisions that make their life more predictable and easier. But they are not that much concerned how it makes their customers feel. Such a treatment may not come from bad intentions. It may just come from being too far from those they are hoping to serve. But still it makes me feel badly treated despite my good intentions.
Customer trust is hard to earn. And easy to lose. So, check out whether you are not losing it over a silly simplification of your internal process.