Free tea would be nice, wouldn’t it!?
But it’s not quite what I’m thinking.
As I write this, I’m sitting on the patio of my favorite neighborhood coffee and tea shop. There’s a lot to like about the place. It’s a nice quiet setting, but not too quiet. There’s an extensive offering of teas – rare to find in the Denver area. Strong and reliable wifi, naturally.
And the service, well, it’s just OK.
Why OK and not great?
For me, it comes down to one little grievance and it seems to be recurring at this particular cafe. Almost every time I order something and wait for the barista to bring me my coffee or tea at my table, it arrives spilled. Not a lot, but a little. Enough that I need a napkin to clean up the drips on my table. The barista usually realizes that beverage spilled, but sets it down anyway.
It doesn’t bother me enough to put fingers to keyboard and write a critical review, mostly because I know how damaging a sour review can be for a small business. After all, there are enough great things about this cafe to balance out this little pet peeve. I continue to return, too.
But my spilled tea and damp napkins have me thinking. I think the whole issue highlights an endemic blind spot in some many business, large and small:
That service is king.
I’ve seen firsthand how an emphasis on excellent customer service can be the single best way for small businesses to compete in a crowded marketplace and for big businesses to stay on top.
Best of all, from an economical perspective, it doesn’t have to cost anything.
The fitness community is a great example.
A lot of gyms may not think that they have this problem. After all, with class-based exercise being so prevalent, there’s plenty of face to face communication, so there should be good service by default, right?
While I do believe that one could argue some truth to that statement, I don’t think it means that gyms can’t do better. So many of the gymnasiums I’ve visited lately have been very casual – in many ways. I’ve overhead trainers tell dirty jokes and act immaturely, seen dirty locker rooms, and worked with Sales Managers that have little interest in following up with timely emails. Now, I’m just naming a few things here, but these are the types of things that I would categorize as “poor service.”
I remember a yoga studio in Boulder that I used to frequent. [Boulder is a very crowded marketplace, to put it mildly.] They stood apart from the crowd in one very simple way: During savasana, the instructor would deliver these wonderful little rosemary scented towels. Chilled, of course. It was a very simple thing to do, but very thoughtful.
Back to my cafe. What’s the fix there? Admittedly, this is the fix that would make me happy. I think the most appropriate fix is to carefully deliver my tea without spillage and place a napkin underneath it. It’s one tiny adjustment to an otherwise well oiled machine that would make all the difference in my experience. It may even come to define the experience at this cafe as much as the quality of the tea.
And for the gym owners, who often need as much help as they can get to encourage members to attend classes, lift weights, show up in the first place, some thoughtful attention to detail can make all the difference.
What can your gym do better in the service department?
By Ryan WagnerThe best way to improve your fitness business by Ryan Wagner