My wife Samantha was coming out to Oklahoma City for some R&R, and I wanted to book an aerial yoga session for her. She is a certified aerial yoga instructor, and so I was online looking for a class that would be suitable for her skill level. There were about a dozen options from the Google search I performed, and as I was going down through the list, they were each getting eliminated. Either the classes were too basic or they were not offered during the date and time options I had to work with.
Until I got to Tough Lotus. Here was not only a website that offered the classes I was seeking to book in the timeframe I needed, but… OMG a bungee fitness class! This was my wife’s newest passion. (Having installed a bungee rig in our garage and watching her fly around the room, I can see why.) I booked her session with haste, concerned that my laborious search for a class might evaporate if I didn’t get the booking immediately confirmed. And they had an easy-to-use online payment option to guarantee that spot. Whew! I was so proud of my achievement.
Until… a few days later, looking at the confirmation, I saw that the phone number for Tough Lotus had a 480 area code. Hmmm, Oklahoma City has a 405 area code. Maybe it was a cell number? So I checked it out… sure enough, in my haste to get this class booked, I had stumbled on Tough Lotus in Phoenix, AZ. Was I really going to drive the 960 miles for Samantha to take that class? Of course not. So I called, thinking that I could explain the situation and plead for them to refund my payment.
Except that “tough” in Tough Lotus must mean how relatively easy it is to connect with them via phone. No one ever answered. I left a message, just asking for someone to call me about scheduling an appointment, thinking that the opportunity to book a session would be the best bait for a call back. Nope. Nothing. I can’t imagine that there was some way for Tough Lotus to know that I was trying to call to cancel a session. They are just inept at having a professional way to identify customer contacts across multiple channels and respond. In fact, I see this more and more: as the digital channel is used more for information, booking and payment, traditional contact via phone is often ignored.
It’s OK to have a robust digital presence, but you must be able to effectively respond across all contact channels. That phone message you don’t return could be some bonehead who made a reservation from three states away asking for a refund. Or it could be someone that wants to discuss a six-figure corporate fitness opportunity. Either way, make sure you don’t ignore it.
Here’s an interesting question: would anyone from Tough Lotus know that I am writing about their company? If someone was writing a blog entry about YOUR company online, good or bad, wouldn’t you want to know about it? You can, by setting up a daily search for keywords that would identify your business in an online post and report back. A quid pro quo—if anyone from Tough Lotus wants to contact me about a refund, I will write a glowing blog post about how you are paying attention to who writes about you online…