What do you do when you cancel swim classes for thunder and lightning? BUT shortly after, the weather clears up and the instructors are gone!
What do you do when a customer shows up with their little one? BUT you cancelled classes for the day and THEIR CHILD is devastated!
What do you do when a pump motor goes bad and you have to cancel class unexpectedly? Even though you reschedule, it is NOT convenient for “some” of your families.
What do you do when a student misses class due to illness, travel, or because of another commitment? But you already paid the instructor, you paid your pool rent, etc.
I am here to tell you, there is NO one right or wrong way to handle these situations. What is right for your business may be detrimental to mine. What works for me may be a disaster for you.
Also keep in mind: What felt comfortable when you wrote your policies and procedures may not feel so comfortable now that you have an angry customer on the other end of the line. This is normal. And this is why we have to always be open to change. Change is inevitable. When you choose to embrace change you will begin to see it as an opportunity for growth.
So where do you start? Personally, I start with my customers. If they aren’t happy, quite frankly, I am not happy. Second, I listen to my staff. If they aren’t happy, I am not happy. Third, I listen to my gut. If my gut tells me it doesn’t feel right–it’s time for a change!
I did leave out a fourth area that gives you an opportunity for positive growth. Research! There is no shortage of great information out there. When it comes to customer service, one of my favorite books is called “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless, by Jeffrey Gitomer. He really inspired me to make it a policy in my office to NEVER use the term policy. That’s right. We have NO POLICIES!
When you’re in the customer’s shoes, how do you feel when you hear the “policy” excuse? Me? I feel that the business doesn’t value me as a customer. When I feel that way, I take MY business elsewhere! Where is “elsewhere?” Usually the nearest competitor!
Do I ever feel taken advantage of? Admittedly, I do. It’s not a good feeling either. But only on a rare occasion do we take a stance and put our foot down. Because usually we realize that the alternative is worse. Upset customers tell everyone who will listen their side of the story–not ours. In those situations you not only lose that customer–but perhaps several other potential customers. Today with social media, several can become thousands overnight! So in the end, you have to ask yourself, “is it worth it?” “Which decision will help me sleep better at night?” That’s the bottom line.
So what can you do? When our customers register, whether online or by phone, they acknowledge ONE BY ONE a number of “Registration Agreements.” If there is a problem later, my office can refer the customer back to these BUT we handle each case individually and with care. Our goal is to make each customer feel appreciated. As of today, here is what The Swim Lessons Company families agree to (in terms of cancellations and make-ups) when they register:
____In order to determine your make-up when a class is cancelled due to weather issues, go to www.swimlessonscompany.com and select the “Make-up Schedule” button in top navigation bar. All make-ups due to weather will be posted within 24 hours.
____If your class is cancelled for any reason, it will be made up at the same time and same location on another available day, i.e, Thursday or Friday. The make-up will be posted on the website under “Make-up Schedule.”
____In the event of an unforeseeable cancellation, i.e., an instructor is sick, pool mechanical problem, water temperature issue, etc.—an SLC representative will call you on the number you listed under “home phone” when creating your account. This is the only contact number shown on the instructor’s roster. If you would rather us call your cell phone, please contact the office immediately to change that information.
____While there are no refunds for missed classes that have been taught, if you miss class due to illness, travel, other obligation, etc., email Jim Reiser at email@example.com Let him know that you missed your class and would like to schedule a make-up. Providing there is a class opening available, we can offer you a makeup at that time during the back half of the session (In other words, once the Live Online Registration Period has ended to avoid over booking a class). If all classes are full and a make-up is not possible during the current session, we are happy to offer you a full credit for that class with no expiration date to be deducted against a future registration.
So that’s what our customers “agree to” when they register, whether online or over the phone. There are also a number of other registration agreements, but that’s how we handle “Cancellations & Make-ups” today. I do believe that by publishing your terms and conditions in a contract form, having the customer physically “check a box” beside each term is a very pro-active way of preventing problems from arising. It may not prevent them all, but in the big picture, you will find it to be a very effective strategy.
I hope today’s blog helps you! If you would like to schedule a “One-on-one Phone Consultation,” you will be delighted to see how reasonably priced they are. To schedule your personal consultation OR for more information, check it out on the Swim Lessons University website today!
December 30, 2013 at 5:42 pm Comments (0)