How well do you communicate with your customers, really, especially when it comes to matters which might bother or inconvenience them?
In the age of e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter you’d think that every business would have some kind of amazing strategy for staying in touch with customers. But that’s not always the case.
In April, a friend of mine joined a gym, and she did it specifically because the gym had a pool. That’s primarily the type of exercise that she enjoys. This month, she quit the gym and written a bad review about it.
First, the gym changed its hours without warning. She found out about the new “summer hours” one Sunday in July. The fitness center was closed up, and a paper sign on the door proclaimed the new hours.
It would have been nice for her to know that the gym was only open 6 days a week in the summer before she drove all the way out there. She also noted, rather dryly, that there was no reduction in dues, even though the gym had reduced her access.
It wouldn’t have even taken technology to communicate that particular piece of information. It’s something that could have been covered during the sign up process, but it wasn’t.
My friend soon adjusted to the summer hours, but there was another wrinkle later in the summer. The gym closed the pool for an entire week. Her only notice? The empty pool, and a hand written sign stuck sideways on a drink machine in the locker room. Another wasted trip, as she’d only brought workout clothes to swim in.
After the pool reopened there was an unexplained, unannounced, and unaddressed problem with the hot tub. She was done.
Can you imagine what a different experience this would have been had the gym merely used the tools it had at its disposal? They had her e-mail address, and, one assumes, the e-mail addresses of every other patron.
How different might the experience have been had this company simply opted to send out a couple of simple e-mails? Dear patrons…these are our new summer hours. Dear patrons, hey, we’re repainting the pool so it’s going to be closed for a week. Sorry for any inconvenience, just wanted to spare you the drive!
It would have made a big difference, because it would have been professional, and it would have saved her and all of the other clients a lot of wasted time. It would have saved the gym a slew of 1-star reviews, too, since my friend wasn’t the only one who had a few angry words to share.
What about your own communication strategies? Many companies have the tools but don’t think to communicate anything that isn’t a sale, promotion, or marketing newsletter. Do you stop to explain inconveniences or problems, too? Though you may be concerned about the costs of calling attention to these problems the truth is that doing so is an act of respect that customers will appreciate, and one that will ultimately build your reputation for the better.