Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Customer Satisfaction, Social Networks, and You.


August 2008. Feeling the need to exercise more, I joined a gym. After negotiating with a representative on price, the end result was $800 for a three year stint. I really wanted to commit to this.

I was strongly urged to stick with the trainer after my three free lessons. I did. She immediately started pushing me to purchase products from the trunk of her car. Pressured, I purchased glucosamine powder.

I asked the trainer to take it easy with me. She didn’t. I fell off a bench and hurt my leg. She urged me not to report it. I didn’t. We ended our session early that day. Once my training finished with her, and after much pressure to sign up again, I started avoiding the gym when she was there.

Flash forward a few weeks: I was happily lost in thought and music from my ipod while on an elliptical machine; positioned at the end of a long row with lots of open space to the right. Two “gentlemen” were arguing; one pushed the other into me. Slipping off the elliptical from the impact, I grabbed a handle, managed not to fall to the ground and spewed out some unkind words, including "hell". One guy shouted loudly back at me; can’t print that here. An employee came over and asked him to come up front.

I jumped back on the elliptical. Five minutes later, the “gentlemen” came over and apologized, with a big sneer on his face. I later learned that he was a trainer at the gym!

The experience left a bad taste in my mouth. My next action was no action. I never went back. This was about three months into my contract.

I never complained about any of this. My bad.

July 2011: My cell phone started ringing three to four times a day with a certain gym reminding that my contract was ending and to renew. This continued for a few weeks. Finally called them and related my story, ending with “I didn’t get my $800 worth, so what are you going to do for ME?” With everyone I spoke to, "$99" was the response.

But there was another issue. Their local franchise had closed and reopened one town away. They mentioned “grandfathering” and promised that the new location would contact me. I’m still waiting for that call.

Their bad.

Social Media presents a whole new ball game in regards to customer satisfaction. “Word of Mouth” became a form of advertising long before Social Media gained popularity. While viral on a smaller scale, it consisted mainly of negative comments and was damaging since the company in question never knew they were being discussed, therefore, no opportunity to react.

But now, thanks to Social Media, news travels fast and companies CAN respond to much of the negative publicity. My main Twitter account has over 28,000 followers; imagine how many thousands of people would see a tweet about a bad experience AND possibly retweet it? Now I generally don’t complain in public, but I admit doing so a couple of times. The first time, a dialog started with some fellow followers. The second time, the company I tweeted about responded IMMEDIATELY and dealt with the issue to my satisfaction. Now that’s service! Companies need to anticipate and expect complaints via social networks and have the mechanisms in place to immediately deal with the issue, 24 hours a day.

Gone are the days when a consumer would write a letter or call an 800 number. Nah, that takes too much time!

Meanwhile, I’m out roughly $733. That deserves an entire blog post. Now, should I tweet about it as well?

3 comments:

James Ross (author) said...

You better believe you should. I have a story to tell as well about an experience in a gym. Long story short is that I'll never go back and anyone that asks me about the place will get a "thumbs down" comment.

Sandra said...

Hi...
Nice blog.
Customer Satisfaction is important.
I am always looking out for customer satisfaction

Mystery Shopping Job said...

This serves as an eye-opener both to companies and consumers. Thank you very much for a well-written post about customer satisfaction and social networking!