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The other day I was billed as a “no-show” for an appointment with no other communication. 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 canceled 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 like, 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 in 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—emphasizing 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

The lesson is a good one about communication. 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 how 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…


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 is a customer service/CX expert, award-winning keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling author. Learn more about Shep’s customer service and customer experience keynote speeches and his customer service training workshops at Connect with Shep on LinkedIn. (Copyright ©MMXI, Shep Hyken)

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