Saturday, June 23, 2007

Customer Service, Part Deaux

The customer is always right, even when he’s wrong.
We’ve all heard that.
Have probably preached it to our customer service reps at least once, too.

There is a prevailing trend away from that mentality, as companies operate more “lean and mean,” and I suppose figure they can make up in volume what they lose here and there from a few occasional dissatisfied customers.

There has also been a different attitude about customer service emerge as more entrepreneurial immigrants begin to filter into the business matrix. I’m not picking on foreigners, either. There’s just a difference in the way other cultures perceive trade and commerce, and the ways of jawboning for deals are conducted very differently.

Earlier this week I mentioned frustration with Massage Envy.
Some of you wrote back to either commiserate or to tell me to get a grip and look on the bright side.
Both points well taken.
However, there is a “rest of the story” you should know.

The manager of the Massage Envy never did call me back. All of his staff and assistant managers were terrific, however. Problem was, he wouldn’t call THEM back, either.

So I visited the location where I’d first purchased the gift of a year’s worth of massages for my bride. Nothing like a disgruntled consumer walking in the front door to grab your attention.

On duty was Assistant Manager Jessica Connors, who one day (hopefully sooner than later) will make an excellent store manager for the company.

She was kind, gracious, understanding, and more than a little perplexed that it was taking so long to reach a satisfactory conclusion to the problem. She issued a gift certificate for a complimentary session to replace the session the Manager had penalized my bride for her missed appointment.

Sometimes the customer is right, even when things are wrong.
Sometimes all you have to do is stop and listen to what’s being said.
Sometimes you have to show up in person to get satisfaction.

Jessica Connors “gets it” because at the end of the day, if a customer walks away unhappy, everyone loses.


John said...

Dear Brent,

I enjoyed reading your last couple of comments on Massage Envy. I am a massage therapist and clinic owner here in a suburb of Chicago. I have owned my clinic for nearly 20 years now. We do things right, always have.

I was very concerned about Massage Envy coming into the market place, although I knew it would happen eventually. I look to the hair styling industry as a model.
Discounting started happening there 25 years ago or so.

I have a real big problem with this company because it seems to me that it's just a bunch of gready entrepreneurs trying to capitalize on a growing trend without regard for the people performing the hard work. A business model that I call the "Wal-Model".

Don't get me wrong, I'm a entrepreneur/capitalist and I'm all for making a profit and the owners becoming wealthy. However, I have a real problem with blatant abuse of employees. I've been to 3 of the Massage Envys in the Chicago area and where I've had a total of 6 massages. ALL of these massages were poor in quality. There were also some service shortcomings that left me upset also. I understand that the turnover is extremely high and that alone could kill them. I really feel that this is a sad time for our industry and I hope that these people don't ruin a good thing.

Please feel free to send me your thoughts directly.


Brent Clanton said...

Dear John--

Thanks for the posting.
So long as there are entrepreneurial folks like you, willing to fill the void created by the large, franchise operations, you'll have a ready and willing market.

I know there are operational and philosophical variations between the different Massage Envy locations where I live.
There are also such variables among the multiple McDonald's franchises, too.

Doesn't make them all bad...nor does it guarantee they'll call be providing good services, either.

My predcition: Massage Envy will be rubbed out by a competitor willing to more closely monitor the quality of the personnel and services in their outlets if they do not pay closer attention to these areas themselves.

I also predict Ms. Connor will be an agent of such positive changes within the Massage Envy culture, or she will no longer work there.
She'll be snapped up by another company recognizing her talent and ability to manage people as well as numbers on the bottom line.