The other day I was billed as a “no-show” for an appointment.  This particular business, a personal training fitness gym, has a policy that if you don’t cancel appointments outside of 24 hours, you get charged.  I accept and agree with the policy, but the problem was that I wasn’t a “no-show.”  They had canceled the appointment, not me.

 

What happened is that my usual trainer got sick.  He personally called and cancelled the appointment.  He had tried to find someone to replace him, but couldn’t.  At least that is what he thought.  At the last minute they found another trainer, but nobody told him (my usual trainer) or me.  So, it looked liked, at least to this other trainer, that I was a “no-show.”

 

When it was brought to the owner/manager’s attention, my money was cheerfully refunded, and everything was fine. But with me being overly sensitive to customer service, I recognized there was still something wrong with the process.  This should never have happened. 

 

Was I sick?  Did I have a car accident?  Did I forget about the appointment?  Weren’t they interested at all why I didn’t show up?  They didn’t appear to be.  They just charged my account as a “no-show.”  I’ve been doing business with them for twelve years and have never been a “no-show.”  After twelve years it appeared to them as if I’d missed my first appointment.  So, why wouldn’t they have called to find out why?

 

Even though it was taken care of, this really bothered me (and it bothered my usual trainer).  You see, this is a personal training gym – with the emphasis on the word personal.  While they usually get it right, the gym missed it on this one.   (Before I go further, let me emphasize that this is an excellent business.  Even great companies like Disney make a mistake every once in a while.)  And while this was a small mistake, it still created a lesson for us. 

 

The lesson is a good one.  It brings us back to operations focused versus customer focused thinking.  Operations focused thinking dictates that since the client didn’t cancel, charge their account.  That’s “Company Policy.” 

 

Customer focused thinking takes it to the customer.  Certain customers and clients of any business are reliable – and can even be considered predictable.  So when something doesn’t go the way it is supposed to, or there is a change in habit, etc., don’t take it for granted.  Don’t make an assumption.  Someone should notice.  It is worth the effort to…

 

          Communicate!

 

Pick up the phone and find out why.  It may be nothing, or it may be something important.  And at worst this is another opportunity, even a good excuse, to have further contact with a customer.  And, who knows?  It might even lead to additional business!

 

Closing this issue with a quote from Philip B. Crosby, quality management guru…

 

“It is much less expensive to prevent errors than to rework, scrap or service them.”

 

Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations.  As a professional speaker and author, Shep helps companies develop loyal relationships with their customers and employees.  For more information on Shep’s speaking programs and books, please contact (314) 692-2200. Email: shep@hyken.com  Web: www.hyken.com. For information on customer service training, go to www.TheCustomerFocus.com.

 

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