When I tell people I work in the bowling industry I usually get a pleasant nod and one of three responses:
1. “Really? Isn’t that interesting.” 2, “Oh, I don’t know anyone in that business. How did you get into it/that line/business, etc?”
3. “Bowling? I haven’t bowled in years!”
To all these responses I try to be as pleasant as possible, but recently I have been a little more outspoken and almost defensive.
I think it happened when I read the reviews.
Often I will go to clients websites, competitors to clients websites or random bowling websites to see what’s up. In the last week, I hit about 10 bowling websites and this is what caused my consternation.
Many of the reviews expressed very LOW expectations of their bowling experience. Here is a sample of some of the reviews.
“XYZ happened to me at Happy Lanes, but what can you expect from a bowling alley employee?”
“The bowling alley always looks dirty, but as a nostalgic throwback I can handle it once every two years or so…and I always shower after it.”
“The Neanderthal at the customer desk couldn’t answer any of my questions about the birthday parties and was too busy talking on his phone. So I went (name of place) and it wasn’t a bowling alley.”
None of these comments made me happy as I read review after review. I shrugged it off as just a bad run of reviews, but they were about different centers in different locations.”
And not one of the centers had answered the reviews or posted anything on it.” Does anybody check this stuff, I wondered?
But last night at a little BBQ with some friends and some new people we hadn’t met before and I got a story about a local bowling “alley” from the husband of the new couple.
He didn’t even try to hide his feelings “that almost all bowling alleys were notorious for not being service oriented”; similar to the above mentioned comments.
To which, I replied “Oh, I suppose you have never had a bad experience any where else you have shopped or eaten out, right?”
To which I was told, “You’re right. I have had bad experiences in other places, but I bowl in a league there and they don’t treat us very nicely.
I was going to probe this further, but he continued by saying, “We even talked to the owner who said he would speak to the night manager. Nothing changed since last November, so we’re going to another bowling alley, maybe half of us will go, about 16 to 20 guys. Others are just going to quit.”
As soon as I could get some privacy, I called the owner, who I knew (but was not a client) and told him the story. He promised me he would speak to the league officer or Secretary as soon as he could. I hope he does. And I hope I made a diving catch for him, but I doubt it.
Back to the conversation with the husband – I didn’t know what to say other than, “Well, please don’t judge the whole industry on that one bad apple. There are allot of great, caring customer service oriented bowling centers out there that would treat you wonderfully and appreciate your business.”
To which he replied, “Really, isn’t that interesting?”