I recently decided to try a new gym that uses AI-enabled equipment.  I was enthralled with the idea of AI machines telling me how to work out and how well I was doing.  So, I set up an appointment after an offer of two free sessions came in the mail.

I told the owner of the franchise on the phone I was looking to regain strength after having had a recent surgery.  Upon arrival for my appointment, I was given a form to fill out with the usual questions which included, “Did you have any surgery in the past year?”  I wrote yes and stated the specific surgery despite having already told him 2 times.  Again, I had already told the owner the specific nature of my surgery .

After filling out the form and signing pages of hold harmless paragraphs, he took me to a back room and began the usual, canned sales pitch, “Why do you want exercise? What are your goals, what gets in your way of success?”  Yada, yada, yada.  I played along with it as I was curious to try the machines.  When he completed his sales pitch, he said “Oh, you cannot use the machines since you had recent surgery until you bring in a doctor’s note!”  First I heard of this.

“What??  Why didn’t you tell me that when I first told you I had surgery?” 

Getting his sales pitch face time was more important to him than me and my time.  I was not happy.

Nearly all businesses are commodities, certainly gyms are in spades.  Yet he was happy to use up my time to meet his goal of sales presentation.  No business or salesperson should ever put such goals ahead of the customer.

One of the easiest ways to create a competitive advantage is to save customers time and make the transaction more convenient.  If you want to get away from price pressures and commodity status you must find ways to do that.  Saving customers time should be foundational in your value propositions and is often the most compelling way to show differentiation.

One of our clients had a business that required lots of inbound calls to check the status of loans.  Another was a building material manufacturer for whom on time delivery was critical.   A third was a commercial building owner who leased tenant space that may have had safety and/or maintenance issues from time to time.   All set up concierge desks specifically to make life easier for their customers.  All three became leaders in their industries for the simplicity of true customer service.

Will I be signing up for that gym?  Not a chance. 

April, 2024

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