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Business lessons from the gym

As long as you are willing to look, there are business lessons to be learned from many places. A local gym club has unfortunately provided numerous examples of how to alienate members.

image source: 123rf.com

So here are some of their mistakes that we can learn from:

  • send out quarterly invoices at seemingly random times and vary the means of delivery (snail mail or via staff to members)
  • never answer the phone and wait for at least 3 messages before returning any calls
  • ask for a deposit for the following year then question why members pay that much less in the first invoice of the year – either admit it is an extra fee or understand that a deposit is deducted from the main invoice
  • don’t answer emails
  • if you do answer emails (and it’s taken over two years for this to happen in our case) do not put your name at the end of the email, just use a signature with the club name and address
  • give out dates of major events (like the end of year performance) via wall posters 2 weeks beforehand – notices, emails and advance notice are overrated, surely?
  • claim to leave multiple messages, but not speak to member when at the club each week, as justification for not communicating important information. If nothing else, maybe it was worth checking if the correct phone number was being used (as no messages were ever received by us)

I have heard people praise the location and facilities but only ever criticise the organisation itself. It is a pity to see people travel further than necessary because they want a basic level of customer service.

Of course, that is the key lesson from all the mistakes above – provide customer service and make things easier for customers.

How much poor or mediocre service will you put up with? Are there situations where it bothers you more than others?

Think about the order of information…

Getting frustrated may be part of life, but I don’t find it particularly enjoyable. It’s even worse when it could have been avoided so simply, too.

There is some software I am considering purchasing to use for a client as the freeware doesn’t have al the features I need. There’s a question I need answered first so I looked through their FAQs which didn’t answer my question.

They suggested asking intheir forum so I did. Only to discover, in small print in a directory listing not linked to originally, that the forum is old and questions unlikely to be answered. I wish they had made that clear elsewhere – or stopped people being able to ask questions instead of wasting my time.

So, then I used their contact form – filling in name and email and a nice message explaining what I needed. Form worked nicely but the next message was “You can’t contact us directly anymore”. Again, why not tell people that before they fill in your form? Why waste their time and, presumably, cause more emails to come to their inbox?

Whatever their reasons for not providing customer support, I don’t think there is any excuse for not putting messages in place to save people’s time. It would cost them nothing to have put the message before the contact form instead of afterwards, but would save aggravation for customers and give them a much more positive image.

So remember the sequence of messages can be critical for efficiency and estalishing good relationships.