EXCELLENT RESPONSE FROM ESPORTA
August 9th, 2010
You may have read in my last blog, a complaint letter I had sent to Esporta. I am pleased to say I received a reply to my email the following day, which I am very impressed with. We all know that it is very good when things go well. However, you can judge a good business by how it reacts to a complaint.
I have also received a telephone call today, and the regional director is meeting me at Esporta tomorrow morning.
I will keep you updated with progress, but it is refreshing to hear about a brand that takes complaints seriously.
Here is the reply …
Dear Ms Vaughan,
I have read your e mail of yesterday and have carefully read and noted its contents. May I initially apologise for the circumstances that you described and for the fact that you have had cause to write to me.
I joined Esporta as Chairman last Summer and John Cleland joined as Chief Executive just before last Christmas. We both recognise that the critical importance of customer service and much of the work that has been undertaken over recent months has been aimed at improving the quality of the service and facilities that we provide across all Esporta’s clubs. That is why it is disappointing to read your e mail. This said, I am extremely grateful to you for writing such a detailed note as it enables us to tackle the issues that you have raised.
Your e mail requires a full and detailed response. I will ensure that a full investigation takes place and that you get an appropriate response by the middle of this week. Rest assured that the matters you raised will be properly looked into and that we will take action to improve the quality of our offer. At this time, we will also address your membership of the club.
Once again, my apologies for any frustration that has been caused.
With kind regards,
Chairman of Esporta.
Well done Esporta, for taking this prompt action. Let’s hope the matters in my original email get sorted promptly. This is the beginning of good customer care and this positive action will be praised in my next book.
Letter of complaint to Esporta in Rustington
August 7th, 2010
Hello to all my happy branders!
I came back from what was meant to be a relaxing swim today, in a foul mood. In fact over the last few months, I have left Esporta in Rustington feeling wound-up and irritated. Not the relaxing club atsmophere which I had been promised. In my book, DO A MADONNA!, I write about the importance of brand promise. I have decided to share my letter to the the chairman and CEO of Esporta with you and I will let you know if and when I get a reply from them.
Chairman is: Richard Segal CEO is: John Cleland
I am writing to you because I have finally got to the end of my tether with Esporta in Rustington and I wish to give my notice in and/or be offered some kind of compensation for the negative treatment.
I have been a member of Esporta in Rustington coming up to two years November 2010, and I do feel that us established members are getting pushed to the bottom of the pile when it comes to customer care.
I know lots about customer care as my company specialises in branding and I have just written a book, called DO A MADONNA!, which has been recommended by the Chamber of Commerce, which teaches businesses about this very subject.
I am sure you know that the best form of marketing is by recommendation. More importantly, we know that a brand only becomes a successful brand when it evokes a good memory in a customers mind. For the last six months, I have more often than not, left Esporta feeling tense and irritated – not relaxed.
From talking to friends I have made at Esporta in Rustington, the feeling is mutual amongst many members as classes have been cancelled, and cheaper, less enthusiastic instructors have been recruited. I more than anyone, understand the difficulties facing many businesses over the last few years – however, I also know that it is far more cost effective to keep your existing customers happy, than waste money tempting new customers when there are problems with customer care and staff morale. From where I’m standing, it seems that there are many underlying issues which need to be sorted within Esporta Rustington. I have seen a swift change of management from the staff structure you display in the reception area.
Here are my complaints in no particular order. They are all relevant and I hope they will be treated as so.
- I originally chose Esporta over other leisure centres as the pool looked appealing and it was adult friendly (relaxing). The pool is the only facility I use as other exercise overheats me – I suffer from an under-active thyroid gland. I have an exceptionally busy lifestyle, and the pool is my own time. Two weeks ago I went for my normal swim to find there were children screaming in the pool and I discovered that the children’s two hour slot at weekends had been extended to four hour slots. Why? Every other leisure centre in the area is child-friendly – I drive 25 minutes from my house to escape! As a long standing member, I had never been consulted that it was about to become a child friendly leisure centre. I may as well join the council pool facility at £30 per month and just a five minute drive from my house if Esporta has nothing exceptional to offer me.
- I am still waiting for £20 compensation as this was promised when my swimming costume was torn in your spin dryer approximately one month after I joined in November 2008. I left my costume behind reception as Ruth was dealing with it. My costume has never been returned and I have never had £20 compensation. I see there is now a notice on the wall stating that Esporta take no responsiblity for damage, this was not there when my costume was damaged and as such, I still expect to receive £20 which was offered by Ruth. I would expect this lack of communication from public pool staff, but not Esporta.
- Two weeks ago, I nearly broke my ankle when the white grill around the pool collapsed when I stepped on it as I got in the pool. I am not heavy because I exercise – most people are surprised about my under-active thyroid gland! My ankle is still sore. Ed who works at Esporta in Rustington was very nice and did phone to see how I was. However, this accident shouldn’t of happened in the first place.
- About four months ago, I asked for a sunbed before I went into the pool. However, I was informed by your staff that there were no sunbed tokens left. The staff said they would get one for me by the time I got out of the pool. An hour later, I came into reception, and the same member hadn’t bothered to get the sunbed coins! This is just plain lazy. Again, I would expect this from a public pool, but not a private pool that I pay £65 a month for.
- The glass door on the sauna has been scraping (loudly) on the stone floor every time it is open or closed, for nearly a year now. Every so often, it is fixed when customers complain. However, the following week it scrapes again! There is obviously an underlying problem with the fixture. The noise it makes is excruciating and hardly fits in with the relaxing spa facility that Esporta promises. How about a spot of proactivity rather than reactivity here?
- The floors in the showers are disgusting and there is brown mould or something more sinister creeping on the stone tiles. Also around this area it smells dirty, especially where water fountain is. If I got health and safety in (I am a borough councillor), I feel sure they would find something in the water if they performed a swab test. Not something I would expect in any modern pool facility – public or private.
- The customer care and staff morale is not good. I have heard staff in the changing room moaning about other staff/instructors and Esporta as a brand. The only people who smile are the beauty therapists. The sunbed coin situation (4 above) was disgusting. I also made another complaint about the drinking water bottle outside the changing rooms always being empty. The staff don’t seem interested. They should be checking things like this instead of sitting there doing nothing.
- I left my ring in my goggles case by the jacuzzi a few months ago (on the rare occasion that the jacuzzi was working). The ring only cost me approx £55 and I admit it was my fault for leaving it there. However, my ring was never handed into the lost property. I am disappointed that Esporta members and staff are not more honest. With honesty in mind: Seeing signs up like: “Due to the soap dish being stolen, we are not going to give you nice soap any more” makes me think – if staff inspected the toilets and changing rooms on a regular basis, then there would be less chance of this happening.
- The electric socket facilities in the ladies changing room (for curling tongs, straighteners) is ridiculous. There is only one safe plug. There is always a fight for the plug and it is unsafe with lockers opening overhead. The sockets should be where the hairdryers are.
- It makes my blood boil when I see Esporta banners with incentives for introducing new members. I would never introduce a friend as I don’t think you look after existing members. Surely you should invest in looking after loyal members first – for example, investing in a more reliable jacuzzi facility and investing in customer care.
- On 20th April 2010, I received an email from Esporta requesting that I take part in a survey. As I had been unhappy with Esporta, I couldn’t wait to fill it in and give you my feedback. The survey asked if I would require a callback, to which I replied – YES, as all my other attempts at passing feedback via your staff at reception had been ignored. The survey idea was fantastic. Except that I am still awaiting a callback four months later. In my new book, DO A MADONNA!, I encourage business owners to conduct surveys – however, surveys are a total waste of money if you don’t react to the feedback. How much did Esporta spend on this survey?
- The Benefit Card System you operate seems to me, to be a clever marketing ploy to encourage customers to spend more money at Esporta. I have never hit my ’35 visits a month’ target because I don’t visit often enough because I get so irritated every time I leave. Especially now that your ‘child friendly’ schemes is in operation where kids are in the pool for 4 hours on Saturday and Sundays – now I will visit even less! Why do I want to get up at 8am on a Saturday and Sunday to drive to your pool 25 minutes away? I work very hard during the week and look forward to relaxing at weekends. I also don’t want to have to plan my whole day around getting back for a swim at 3pm. If you want to make Esporta child-friendly, perhaps a compromise could be that children swim from 12-4pm or 1-5pm. That gives us adults the whole morning to go for a relaxing swim and leave before the kids get in. I would be interested to know what the demographic of your Rustington customer base is.
The final straw happened today, which led me to this.
- After a stressful swim with noisy children in the pool today, I thought I’d block it all out with a jacuzzi. The coloured fence was up, however, I assumed it was there to make it safe so children didn’t fall in. After 5 minutes in the jacuzzi, a member of staff said the water balances were wrong and she made me leave for my own safety. Why oh why waasn’t someone correcting the water levels instead of just ignoring it? I had gone to the pool last week and the water level was wrong then. I really look forward to my jacuzzi after a long 60 length swim. Perhaps your staff could SMS pool users if they know the pool is extra cold or jacuzzi is not working. It is annoying after a 20 minute drive to discover this when you arrive.
- I always put my towel on the wooden table by the pool when I swim, and when I got out the pool today, a lady (watching her kids) had removed my towel and put it onto the wet floor sat on the table (11.50am). She was talking to your pool guard who must of seen this. Tables are not for sitting on, and I can’t believe this happened.
- I run a charity and four weeks ago I dropped a poster into reception and asked (nicely) if they could put it up in the member information. The event is a children’s talent contest called Worthing Idol 2010 which is on Bank Holiday Monday 30th August 2010. I asked the staff in reception if the poster could go up to promote the auditions which were on 24th July. The posters never went up. I asked at reception at least three times since, and the staff said the poster would go up the following week. The next set of auditions is Saturday 14th August. Tim Loughton who is a Worthing local MP and Minister for Young Children is judging this event, and I would of hoped that Esporta could have shown their loyalty towards an established member by supporting us.
I’ve been meaning to write to you for the last six months, however, I keep hoping that things will surely get better. Unfortunately, today proves that things are not getting better – just the opposite. I do think the promises that Esporta make upon joining have not been fulfilled. We all know that if you don’t deliever on brand promise you have nothing.
I have taken a long time to compile these points in a constructive manner and I do hope you take this seriously.
Vicky Vaughan (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Author, DO A MADONNA! (www.doamadonna.com)
Founder, TALENT WITHIN YOU (www.talentwithinyou.org.uk)
Managing Director, THE BRAND SURGERY (www.thebrandsurgery.co.uk)
BA – Do they really care?
July 30th, 2010
After writing DO A MADONNA!™, I suppose I am more sensitive to bad branding. However, even if you are not a brand-geek like myself, there is a question of integrity of a certain airline. How can the World’s Favourite Airline get away with such an uncaring attitude?
Once upon a time, on Sunday 4th July to be precise …
I had been celebrating a family wedding in Scotland and was about to depart from Edinburgh airport to London Gatwick at 7pm on a Sunday evening. I arrived at Edinburgh looking forward to going home to see my cats. I looked at the departure board for my flight, and I was greeted with a big flashing ‘DELAYED’ sign. Shock. Horror! My flight was delayed until 8pm due to air traffic control, apparently. I was annoyed as my flight from London Gatwick to Edinburgh had also been delayed by an hour. I had chosen BA to fly with as I thought if I paid more money, the service would be better. To my amazement, none of the low cost airlines had delayed departures due to air traffic control. Only BA, the world’s favourite airline have this problem!
Half an hour later, I looked up at the departure board again. Oh no! It had been delayed by a further 15 minutes. I was worried that I was going to miss the last train from Gatwick to West Worthing. So I found the information desk and asked if they could arrange me a taxi as due to their delay, I was going to miss my last train home. The assistant said: “I’m sure that won’t be a problem, after all it is our fault”. He phoned through to somewhere and was told that they wouldn’t be arranging me a taxi. It was in BA’s terms and conditions that basically I was stuffed. When I queried how I would get home, the assistant said: “I would suggest that you book your own taxi home and keep the receipt and send it to Customer Services. However, I can’t say whether you will get a refund”. I asked for a Gatwick taxi number as I was in Edinburgh, and they did find me one eventually. I phone the taxi service and it was going to cost £65 to return to West Worthing. I was livid. At that point, the announcement for boarding was played, and I decided to take a risk and hope that the baggage would come through quickly once I arrived at London Gatwick. The plane eventually took off at 8.45pm. I arrived, at Gatwick, and luckily caught my last train home.
I have these questions to ask:
(1) Why were BA flights delayed by an hour each way, on separate days, yet the budget airlines manage to keep to time?
(2) Luckily I didn’t miss my last train home. I am cross because I am a female traveling alone. If I had missed my train, I would of had to pay £65 for a taxi or find a room for the night at 11am at night! Surely if an airline has a delay they should do the honorable and decent thing and ensure that I could get home safely. Is BA’s bottom line more important than public safety?
As we know, a good brand is a good memory. On Sunday 4th July, BA’s uncaring attitude of a situation cause by them, made me feel insignificant. I understand there can be unavoidable technical faults. All companies experience difficulty at some time or another. A successful company remedies a bad situation successfully. What I experienced was bad branding because I now have a bad memory when I think about BA. When I see their adverts it makes my blood boil. I shall certainly avoid using them again. Bring on the budget airlines.
One last point. I paid more for the World’s Favourite Airline, and all we got to eat was a microscopic bag of nuts and a drink. What happened to BA quality and sincerity?