Monday, April 23, 2012

Be Me or Courtney Today

(This is a little bit of a rant but it does have a point and a happy ending.)

I’ve been going to gyms for 45 years and am now a member of one of the best gyms I’ve ever been in; lots of space, decent locker room and well-maintained equipment.

However, Some of the employees at my gym now think I’m a jerk.

Until yesterday I tried to be a better member by complaining about a new entry system.

My gym was bought by a bigger company, Lifetime Fitness, based in Minnesota. Instead of letting members continue to present a keyring plastic card like you use at the grocery store they’ve made a decision to go to a credit card-sized entry card. The new card is obviously too big to put on a keyring unless you carry one of those duffelbag purses so it’s one more thing to keep up with.

Here’s the company logic as voiced by every employee: “In May we’re renovating the locker rooms and you’ll use the card to open a locker where you’ll store your stuff.” And then they explain how beautiful the locker room will be.

Ok.  Let’s not get into the point that if you are going to a gym because you like to hang out in a ritzy locker room you already have more issues than I can help you with.

So, I asked, “How do you get back into the locker after your workout?”

“Well,” they answered, “There’s a key in the locker. So, you’ll leave your card and take the key with you to get you back into the locker after your workout.”

Something else to keep up with. Do I wear the key on a fancy-Nancy bracelet on my wrist or ankle? Or, do I put it in the pockets I don’t have in my workout pants?

No, they advised, we’ll give you A SAFETY PIN SO YOU CAN PIN IT TO YOUR PANTS!!

Now, I’ve been in gyms for over 45 years and the only people I’ve ever seen who have A KEY PINNED TO THEIR PANTS are 5 year-olds or people who’ve never been in a gym. And by the way, I’ve only ever had one thing stolen from a locker because I don’t take valuables into the gym. Here’s a clue: If you are taking the Hope Diamond into a gym take your own lock with you.

Here are my two points: (1) Successful organizations spend a lot of time thinking through customer interactions and trying to make the service better and more positive. (2) Every successful organization on the planet is trying to make the customer interaction lighter; less stuff, easier to do, people to help, more intuitive and satisfying.

In fact, the most successful companies are essentially saying to customers, “We’re going to make it as easy as possible to do business with us. All you have to do is show up.”

Ok…rant over…here’s the happy ending.

Courtney is an employee whom I’ve frequently encountered. She’s great. Always smart, positive, smiling, good interaction and remembers my name. Basically, what you need in a great employee.

I’m doing my complaint with Courtney she gets this smile and says, “That’s no problem Mr. Collins. I can cut the bar code off your card and punch a hole in the space left and you can put it on your keyring.”

And she does. And it’s perfect.

Somewhat timidly (because I’m stunned at the simplicity and genius of her solution) I asked, “Courtney, I have two cars and two sets of keys…”

And before I finish she turned to a computer and ordered a new card…which we’ll modify to fit the other keyring.

You go, Courtney!

The instances like I experienced with the new card system and with Courtney are called moments of truth. We have them in work and business, and in life. They are the moments at which we determine whether or not we are being served in the way we want to be served…not in the way some suit has determined we OUGHT to be served or a way that is easier for the company to operate.

Courtneys are rare.

Be either me or Courtney today. Complain about a stupid decision or think through a moment of truth enough to find a solution. Either action can move life ahead.

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