A while back, I was at a school auction and won a certificate for four music lessons at an area music school. One of my boys has been wanting to take some music lessons, so it seemed like a good match. Then I called them…
When most businesses donate something to a school auction, they aren’t generally doing it to help the school. Unless you have kids at that school, you are usually just doing it to get your name out there. In other words, it is a form of self-promotion. It is important to keep this in mind, because you need to stick with that strategy.
When I called the studio to setup his lessons, we ran into our first problem. They couldn’t find their copy of the certificate. I tried to explain that I had the certificate with me and would bring it to the first lesson – but they said they needed to find their copy of it. The puzzling question is….. Why?
The next issue was the expiration date on the certificate. It was due to expire at the end of February. Since I knew we had a conflict in February, I asked it we could move it back a few weeks. The receptionist said she would have to discuss it with the director and let me know, but they didn’t usually do that type of thing.
As a business owner, you have to ask “why?” Think about it… nobody takes just 4 music lessons. The goal should be to get me – a potential client – to try out their services. They have absolutely nothing to lose by extending the certificate a month.
From there the situation just slowly got worse. They said the best they could do is push it back a week – maybe two. She just kept saying, “we don’t usually do that.” From a customer service standpoint, if you are willing to extend the certificate, why not go with a “Sure- whatever it takes to make you happy” strategy vs the “We’re doing you a big favor- we don’t usually work with our clients like this” approach?
Now I’m all for having a policy and sticking to it. The question is, why have that policy?
In the end, I got frustrated and told her to never mind. I said I would just throw away the certificate and find a different music school. At this point, she said, “Well, ok, I’ll check and see if we can extend it through March.”
Unfortunately, at this point, I had no interest in doing business with them. A potential customer lost due to poor customer service.
Your Business Policies
Take a minute and look at your business policies. Are they designed to bring in more business or are they simply hoops for potential clients to jump through? Once you have a clear picture of what you are trying to accomplish with your promotions, it will be much easier to set your policies.
What About You?
We always learn from our mistakes, but it is a lot less painful to learn from other people’s mistakes. Have you had a similar dealing with a business-or maybe made a bad decision yourself on something like this? I’d love to hear your story. Leave a comment and share!