Loyalty be damned. Our system doesn't allow us to alter anything so you're S.O.L.

stillwaterpostTalked with, let’s call her Corinne, at a high end Toronto hotel spa this morning. A good friend became a partner at her law firm and I wanted to have a get together so the plan was to gather 5 or so of our friends and we’ll be gabbing, enjoying a relaxing time, getting massages, them getting mani/pedis, me going to their plush gym, and having a great time together catching up. I’ve been a loyal client at this spa so I thought I knew how their excellent customer service will translate into a smooth reservation process. They instituted a  loyalty program in the last couple of months which was a bonus for me as it provided more incentive for me to keep coming here. There are now new and improved competition that they may not have  had before – Trump, Shangrila, Ritz, Hilton, Sheraton, FairmontIntercontinental, Westin. I’ve brought a friend or two and even family members here before. We’ve had a great time. BUT this time since it is a larger party, I am not putting all the reservations (that goes to the thousands of dollars) to my credit card. My friends wouldn’t expect that either but they were willing to just give me the points since they know I’m a loyalty program hog (you should see my wallet is full of these loyalty programs that start with Starbucks – but that’s another story). So I asked “Would the spa be able to give me all the points for this party I’m bringing?” You know what the answer was, a resounding “NO.” “The system does not allow people who pay separately to give you the points so you are not getting them.”

I wondered why she would say this without skipping a breath. Has she heard this before? I asked for her manager, in the hopes that this individual sees where I’m coming from and would provide a better service. Let’s call the manager Krista who called me back 5 hours after I initially called.  I didn’t know Krista so maybe she was new? After explaining if I could get the loyalty points, she said “Our system gives you points once you close (pay) the account for the day. What you can do is pay for all the charges on your card and you will get the points.” Now the next set of questions became an academic dialogue for me because now I’m curious at how she is thinking as a leader of this enterprise. Would she look at the bigger picture? Would she bypass the technology and instead look at loyalty? Does her decision making align with their corporate brand? How would she address social media reaction? What exactly is she is able to do for long term clients? Would her action detract a client from continuing their relationship with that hotel’s brand and specifically their spa’s brand?

So I asked it differently “What options can you provide considering that my friends wouldn’t mind giving me their points?” (So the client, me, initiated the quest for other options rather than the leader, Denise, thinking of other options for a long term client).

She said “I will give you bonus points if you like” (huh? it sounded like it was going to be a favour).  I forged on “bonus points not the whole set of points? Why is that?”

She said “They may want their own points so we can’t give it to you.” (With a bit of listening skills, I already indicated that they were willing to give their points to me). So I reiterated what I already said thrice  “My friends are willing to give me all their points. Did you need an email from them so that they will give me their points?” (I said sarcastically). She bit that last piece and said “Have them send me an email saying that they are giving you their points and I will give it to you.”

There you have it! She does have the ability to give it to me. Why would she give it to me in the first place? Why, as a client, did I have to ask for this? What happened to understanding the bigger picture of how loyalty actually works?

So here are my options:

1. pay for it all and I get all points

2. get bonus points (she didn’t say how much)

3. give me all the points BUT I have to have all my friends email her indicating that they are willing to give me their points

I said I will connect with my friends and will get back to her. BTW  the people who are to join us in this spa day are lawyers, bankers, learning professionals, and social media gurus whom I’m sure would get a kick out of this interaction.

What would you do?

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