Well over a year ago I canceled my membership with 24-Hour Fitness, had a nightmare of a time getting the cancellation processed (you would think it would be a fairly straight-forward process), and ended up swearing I’d never sign up with them again, nor refer anyone I knew to them.
Between yesterday and today, I had an entirely different experience with Lifetime Fitness, where I currently work out. No, I wasn’t canceling, and given the phone call I got this morning I might never cancel, not to mention that I’m much more likely to refer people to them.
Yesterday, I wrote a small, tongue-in-cheek, post about how I kept getting Lifetime Fitness sales calls, even though I was already a member. I only got 5 such calls, rather than the 47 I alluded to in the post, but 5 calls in a week was enough for me to find it interesting. After all, I’m a business owner, I know something about business processes, and I couldn’t figure out how Lifetime Fitness had gotten their system/data into such a state that I was getting these repeat sales calls asking me to sign up for something I had already bought. I regarded it as a curious phenomena, the same way a scientist might observe the previously-unknown behavior of some species of animal.
This morning, I received the following voicemail message from Lynn Paul, the Senior Director of Member Relations at the corporation offices of Lifetime Fitness in Minnesota. By the way, her tone was very pleasant and she evidently found my post humorous, as it was intended to be:
Good morning Joshua, this is Lynn Paul calling from Lifetime Fitness, I am the Senior Director of Member Relations, and I am not calling to ask you to join the club, or if anyone in your household would want to join. I see you have a 1-year old and would imagine she probably doesn’t have a lot of friends hanging out who would be good prospects for us to ask to join. I am calling to apologize, we located your blog yesterday and you had a dozen people running around here at the corporate office saying “What the heck is going on?!” including me. I wanted to just call and apologize very much for calling you nearly 47 times and asking you the same silly questions. We have gotten to the root cause of why you were on so many various lists and what has happened. I assure you we have taken you off of all of those lists, and we will not bother you again. I see you’re a very active member, that you’re going into the club quite regularly, hope you’re having a good time and that we’re meeting your needs. If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know. Again, I’m the Senior Director of Member Relations at our corporate office in Minnesota, my name is Lynn Paul and I can be reached at [she leaves her phone number here]. I also am planning to send you a gift card, just for your funny email and for letting us know that there’s a real serious issue going on. I hope you’re doing well, the gift card that I send you will indeed buy you several smoothies and hopefully a dinner and lunch or two. Thanks for being a member and thanks for sharing with us. As I said, you have us acting and we will be a better company for it. Again, Lynn Paul, if you would like to talk feel free to call me [phone number again].
So what did Lynn, and Lifetime Fitness, do right?
1. They had an alert system. I have no idea how they found my blog. Maybe they have a Google Alert set up (as all companies should have for their name). This isn’t the first time I’ve posted a “complaint” on a blog of mine before, but it’s the first time I recall getting a response.
2. They responded quickly. I posted yesterday afternoon, and I got this voicemail this morning. That’s fast. In fact, I’ve previously contacted other companies whose services I use via email and phone and haven’t gotten any response at all (I’m looking at you, Zions Bank).
3. Win-win…win. Lynn could have asked me to take down the post. She could have negotiated to get me to take down the post. But instead, she took advantage of an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. Getting me to remove the post would have ended with negative consequences, since I probably would not have removed the post, and then I would have blogged about them trying to get me to take down the post. But by seeing the humor in the situation, not taking offense, and then going the extra mile to make me happy (not only by getting my name off the call list, but sending me a gift card with apparently more than a token amount on it), Lynn has turned a major PR debacle (assuming anyone reads this blog) into a PR benefit because others reading this series of posts will see second-hand, as I’m seeing first-hand, that Lifetime Fitness cares about doing things right and they’re treating me like a human being, not just a problem to be resolved.
Lynn’s attitude benefits Lifetime Fitness because not only has the original call list been solved (which was probably affecting other people other than myself), but I’m likely to remain a member for some time, and I’m more likely than I was previously to send my friends to Lifetime Fitness. And all it cost was a two-minute phone call and a $1,000 gift card…err, well, maybe $50.
But as long as I’ve got the folks at Lifetime Fitness reading my blog, maybe I should ask if they can build a new gym closer to me down in Draper. C’mon guys, trust me, there’s a great spot right off the freeway, and tons of people would use it. And can you put a 50-meter pool in it? Awesome, thanks.