There are no little mistakes in a high-touchpoint business

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It takes every employee to make a business awesome, but only ONE employee to ruin it. (Tweet this!)

I remember once seeing a cartoon about a dog “spa.” The dogs were welcomed into the main room of this gorgeous spa-like front office, but once out of sight of their owners, were actually put to work, ala the slave-children from “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” The caption was something like “God help us if they ever learn to talk.”

A dog-spa is a high touch point business. So is regular kid-day care, and a heart surgeon’s pratice. Other high-touchpoint businesses include anything that’s super expensive, or something that’s a big, big purchasing decision, like buying a new car.

Added bonus – If you’re dealing with parents, you need to be extra, extra careful.

It’s the same reason I tell people how important spelling and grammar is – If I can’t trust you to not have a spelling error on your home page, how can I possibly trust you to ship me stuff on time?

Enter, stage left, Kidville, a NYC establishment (franchise) calling themselves “the number one place in NYC for families with children.”

We’ve been bringing our daughter there for about six months now. The classes are fun for her, she seems to enjoy her time singing, banging on things, or jumping around in a ball pit.

So when it came time for us to renew our daughter for summer sessions, we got the standard “spend more money with us” email inviting us to bring her back to Kidville for another semester.


Subject:  Jesse’s Spring Summer Classes

Hi Kira,

We would love to have Ms Kira back at Kidville for the new semester!  Now that Jesse is 1 year old, she can enjoy classes in our 12-18 month age group.  Please visit the link for 12-18 month old classes and let us know if you are interested in re-enrolling.
Also, for those with a lot of summer vacation plans, we also are running the Summer Flex Pass, which is any 8 classes for $365 for the semester.  It’s super flexible as long as you take all 8 classes before August 29th!
If you should have any questions, please do not hesitate to call or email!
So… They certainly personalized it, both to my wife Kira, and then Ms. Kira (?!) as well as to my daughter Jesse.
Except for the one glaringly huge mistake, both in the subect line, as well as the body of the email: My daughter is named Jessa, not Jesse. Note the “A.” And that “Ms Kira” should have been Ms Jessa.
When you’re in a high-touchpoint business, as in, “this is my daughter, I’d prefer you go out of your way to make me as comfortable as possible with the fact that I’m leaving her in your care,” you simply can’t afford to screw up. Added bonus? You can’t afford to screw up when you’re asking me for money.
Here’s the thing – It’s not about the screw-up on Jessa’s name. It’s what it makes me think about – Same thing with Hertz a few weeks ago – Just because I got treated like crap at a Hertz in Phoenix doesn’t mean my car is going to fall apart the next time I rent from them in Boston – BUT IT MIGHT, so why would I take the risk? I wouldn’t.
You screwed up Jessa’s name – She’s a really fast crawler, you know… You sure you’re going to keep an eye on her if she starts crawling super-fast towards the door?
It takes every employee interaction to make a business awesome, but only ONE employee to ruin it. (Tweet this!)
Spell-check, fact-check, you name it. And when you DO screw up anyway, own it and fix it. In a high-touchpoint business, what you can do wrong is minimal, at best. You simply have to be better.
No matter what kind of business you run, wouldn’t you prefer to be the best at it? Basic SOPs would have prevented this mistake – Perhaps someone proofing what you send out before you send it. And again – Everyone is going to screw up – No doubt. But you have to go out of your way to fix it before I notice it – or at least, when I do.
I’m bringing “Jesse” to Kidville tomorrow. Let’s see what happens.

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