The Customer’s Point of View

customer point of viewPiss poor customer service will kill your business almost as quickly as piss poor marketing will!!!

A while back, Jackie Huba wrote about the bad customer service she experienced in attempting to purchase a gift certificate to a dayspa. In Handling fee, or manhandled? Jackie gives a spa owner an up close and personal look at what it looks like from the customer’s point of view.

At the time, I was in possession of an unused spa gift certificate.  After reading Jackie’s spa horror story, I worried that there might be an “un-noted” expiration date on my gift certificate as well, so I called that afternoon to schedule my appointment.

I definitely got the impression that the staff at the spa wasn’t happy to be making good on a sale they pocketed months ago.

At that point, I realized that if I weren’t in possession of a gift certificate, I probably would have hung up the phone and tried to find another spa.  However, the buying decision had already been made so I went ahead and scheduled an afternoon appointment.

The morning of my appointment, I got a DM from a friend telling me that I had serious problems on my blog.

Let’s see – I can spend my afternoon getting a massage and pedicure, or I can fix the problem with my blog. Hmmm….. this is a no brainer.  I pick up the phone and prepare myself for the ordeal of  speaking to Ms. Snooty Spa Receptionist again.

Ms. Snooty Spa Receptionist tells me there will be a 50% charge for rescheduling my appointment with less than 24 hours notice. I bit my tongue and said “I’ll be there”…. and hoped that fixing my blog wouldn’t be a big deal.  Fortunately it wasn’t but I show up for my spa treatment looking like I’d just rolled out of bed.

It’s been a while since I redeemed that gift certificate. The manicure and pedicure are long gone and my neck and shoulders are as tight as a drum once again – but I won’t be calling for another appointment at this particular spa.  If you ask the owners of the spa why, I’m certain they would blame the “bad economy.”


I have to assume that I’m not the only person who received exceptionally poor customer service at this day spa – which should be the ONE type of business where exceptionally good customer service should be the goal.

However, as bad as their customer service is – it’s not the piss poor customer service that is killing this business – it’s piss poor follow through and marketing.

Piss poor marketing will kill your business faster than piss poor customer service will.

The only reason I remembered this particular experience is that I found this post in my drafts folder this morning.  I began writing the post right after the experience but never posted it.

Make this your marketing mantra: Out of sight – out of mind.

I haven’t heard anything from this spa since my initial visit and that qualifies as “piss poor marketing”.

I didn’t get a follow up “We hope you were delighted with your spa experience” email, note or phone call.  A phone call would have given me the opportunity to “vent” and would have given the spa owners the chance to redeem the relationship.

However, it didn’t happen.

Time has passed and yet I have never received a “we’re still here” note – aka direct mail piece reminding me of my visit and encouraging me to schedule another.

I have never been offered the opportunity to “send five friends and get a free massage.”

My daughter – who purchased the initial gift certificate for her mother’s birthday in March- didn’t get a reminder that a gift certificate to the spa would make a wonderful Mother’s Day present.

This spa is relying on “word of mouth” marketing to promote their business.  My daughter heard about the spa from someone with whom she works.  Word of mouth marketing worked once – but the buzz of the new discovery is over and my daughter ended up spending just as much on other presents for Mother’s Day – but she didn’t spend that money with the spa.

This spa is ignoring their most valuable marketing asset – their current customer files.  Unfortunately, they are not alone.

It costs a lot more to acquire a new customer than it does to sell an existing customer.

This is not my ‘opinion” – it is a fact.

A lot of small business owners are terrified of “marketing” but sometimes, “marketing” can merely nothing more than acts of customer appreciation.

Stop!  Watch closely – can you see the line between “marketing” and “customer service” blurring?

Reach out and touch your existing customers this week.  Create a special “thank you offer” just for existing customers and then let them know about it.  Even if it’s just a simple “thank you” card, you’ll be surprised what it can do for your bottom line.


  1. Kathy — this post is so true. I look for places that offer good service and follow-up whether it’s a spa, a restaurant or a grocery store.

    One thing I think many businesses forget is to make sure the first person who get contacted is friendly and helpful. It’s worth it to pay a receptionist a bit more if he/she helps you keep/get customers:~)

    Saras last blog post..Photo Story Challenge: Introducing Oscar

  2. Kathy says:

    Sara –
    A hearty “amen” to paying CLOSE attention to how the phone is being answered. “Receptionist” is definitely a position which is often overlooked as an important “marketing” tool!!!

  3. Unfortunately, examples such as your spa experience are LEGION! I used to wonder (translation: give two $hits) what would motivate an outfit to behave in this way. I gave serious consideration to the possibility that they might be trying to cultivate exclusivity using reverse psychology. It certainly seems to be the case with hot spots like restaurants.

    There is a lot of leftover brand loyalty here in Minnesota, for example, for long time businesses with whom I had customer service nightmares. It was almost like they knew they were so entrenched, and because Minnesotans won’t raise a stink in the middle of a hog farm, they could get away with it.

    The economy seems to be an equalizer, though. I wonder what would happen if you named names, like you did with Truly Nolen (I will never forget their name now, for all the wrong reasons) or Tweeted about your crappy experience. Or what would happen if you made a call to the owner?

    Nowadays, instead of wondering/giving two $hits, I 1) take my business elsewhere, 2) make reverse referrals, as in “literally, don’t go there,” and 3) communicate directly with the business when the treatment has really been egregious. I don’t think this type of business model is in business for long any longer. Great post, as usual!

    Betsy Wuebkers last blog post..IDEALS, ICONS AND INDEPENDENT THINKING

  4. Betsy – I agree – their snobbery did rub me the wrong way. I have a feeling that “traditional” marketing methods may be BENEATH them as well.

    The original post did included names – but to be honest – they may be out of business by now.

    You’re not alone in your “reverse referrals”… it’s estimated that a happy customer will tell 3 people – and a pissed off one will ten 16!!!

    However, I have to admit – I’m disappointed to hear that Minnesota is similarly afflicted with such “business pests”. Just when I had the fantasy of it being a winter wonderland – where everyone is polite and hard working. This fantasy was fueled by the Simpson seaon finale last night -BTW! 🙂

    Kathy | Virtual Impaxs last blog post..The Customer’s Point of View

  5. Just goes to show how important customer service and marketing are. I’m not surprised you’ll never go back to that spa. I wouldn’t either. They should treat everybody with respect, but when they get all snotty it just spoils the whole experience. I brought my sister a spa day for her birthday, and she said they did a similar thing – the day had been paid for, and basically they didn’t give a damn whether she enjoyed it or not. All I know is they missed out on a trick there, as she’d have been back regularly if it had been any good. Now she takes her custom to a small local spa where they treat her like a princess and she loves it. She’s even got all her friends to go there too. Just goes to show.

  6. It’s funny you should write about this because there is a spa business over my office – they used to be booked all the time, now it is almost empty. The owner has fired the cleaning company and cleans the place herself. Sigh . . . now I wonder if it’s customer service, marketing or the economy. It’s another of your wonderful reminders that customer service can never be sacrificed . . . and marketing is never finished!

  7. Some people will just “never get it” and their businesses deserve the decline they bring upon themselves – but at the expense of their customers, which chaps my posterior region to think of the mal-treatment.

    Plus, they’ve had not only the money for that gift certificate but the interest (or at least potential interest, depending on what they did with the funds.) on that money.

    Talk about “trying to cultivate exclusivity using reverse psychology, ” as Betsy points out.

    But enough about that!

    Long-term consistent respectful treatment of people will not go unrewarded in any realm.

    Jannie Funsters last blog post..Hmnnn…?

  8. Kathy says:


    It definitely does “go to show”… being a business owner is a LOT like being a gracious hostess – especially if you’re in the day spa business.

    Carol ,

    I’m sure your office suite neighbor is busy blaming the bad economy – yet then you read about how Amelia’s sister is still visitng the spa that treats her like a queen for a day!!!


    No truer words were ever spoken:

    “Long-term consistent respectful treatment of people will not go unrewarded in any realm.”


  9. Your post brought up all my memories of poor service – in spas and elsewhere!

    Relationships are made between people and rarely between customer and service. These relationships are the sustaining factor in the success of a business and whether it’s customer service or marketing one complements the other…or should.

    Laurie | Express Yourself to Successs last blog post..Awareness Test

  10. Tampa Spa says:

    As a spa owner, I agree with you whole heartedly that the spa is missing a tremendous opportunity by not marketing to their existing client base. We discovered this a couple of years ago and cut back tremendously on our new customer aquisition marketing and focused more on our existing client base. It is much less expensive and more profitable.

    Unfortunately many spa owners are wearing multiple hats and marketing opportunities and ideas get missed due to lack of time. We would love to be able to hire a full time marketing company to handle this but it is often outside our budget.

    As far as poor customer service, this is one of the things we focus most heavily on. You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned it was much easier and less expensive to market to existing clients and we don’t want to fail in this area. However, we can’t be everywhere at all times and occasionally we get employees that are either having a bad day or just don’t care, and mistreat our guests. This is why it is important that you let us know so we can take care of the issue. We constantly hear in customer service trainings that most clients won’t tell us, they just won’t come back. Some people interview very well but change greatly as time progresses.

    Hope this sheds some light from an owner’s perspective.