Service Design failure costs Planet Fitness *R150 000

R150 000 (One hundred and fifty thousand rand) with no adjustments for increases over 20 years. (R599 x 12months x20 years)
This is what planet fitness has lost out on, from me, because of in-efficient service design. I repeat, JUST FROM ME.

“Companies know that service design is where their growth is, their advantage is, and their future profit is. To be successful in a given marketplace, a company needs to have a strong sense of service design.” Mary Jo Bittner, at Arizona State University’s Centre for Services Leadership.

Backdrop into Service Design?

Service Design, as the name implies, connects business propositions with details of how the service is delivered to the customer. It takes on the mantra of designing with people and not for people. From management to frontline staff, service design is the implementation of service within the organisation. Service design is in-tangible, yet its effect on brand perception are profound and tangible which, in turn, affect sales. As goods and services become more competitive through commoditisation, the customer in the “experience economy” emphasises the experience around that which is being sold, and not only the benefits of the product/service offering. Service design aims, therefore, to create services that are useful, useable, desirable, efficient and effective. The human-centred approach focuses on the experience of the customer and the quality of the service encountered as a key value for success. The service itself takes cognisance of a holistic approach in that it considers strategic, processes, technology and touch point interaction of design decisions. Having said all this, the service design process is an iterative process that is constantly evolving to meet the needs of customers at every stage of the product/service lifecycle. A bad customer experience can thus be attributed to bad service design.

Planet Fitness- where they lost out

Now that I’ve tried to succinctly explain what service design is, allow me to elaborate on a very basic, yet ruinous service failure I recently experienced from Planet Fitness. In a highly competitive industry, it’s a shame that service design is not correctly understood or implemented at many organisations across the board. It has also been cited, in hundreds of journals and articles worldwide, that frontline staff are one of the most important, in this instance the most important, aspect of purchase considerations. People form, fundamentally, the embodiment of the organisation. As such, service design should always have them top of mind when developing the service offering. In my circumstance, I walked into a newly established Planet Fitness in Hazelwood, Pretoria. I was approached by a friendly lady and proceeded to inform her of my interest in joining the gym. I then told her that I would sign up on the proviso that I could have a glimpse of the bathroom facilities. This was my only request. In fact, the state of the bathroom facilities would immediately have led to my John Hancock on the required documentation for membership. Of course, this is did not materialise. The lady asked me to fill out a form with all my particulars. Secondly, she wanted to include my name, surname and identity number into their system and only then, would she ask someone from the sales team to show me the bathroom facilities. Woah. Slow down. I’m just a prospect. This entire process is not only wasting my time. Its asking me a whole lot of personal information, that quite frankly, I do not want to share with anyone at this stage of the journey.

Service Design at the Prospect Stage

Service design is “Design for experiences that reach people through many different touchpoints and that happen over time” (Løvlie et al, 2008, 174).
With the customer journey in mind, it should be noted that I am not a customer of Planet Fitness. I am a prospect. As such, I am still at the information seeking stage of my journey as a potential customer of Planet Fitness. To bombard me with requests for information, which I know is purely for marketing reasons (CRM etc), is only going to push me away. A simple request was met with a very complicated answer. I then proceeded to the exit. Goodbye Planet Fitness-For life! How unfortunate.