I’ve had many ideas for blog posts over the past few months, but haven’t had much energy or coherent thought to spare after starting my new job in July. The learning curve is steep, but I’m loving it.
What finally inspired me to write were two unpleasant CX encounters in rapid succession that had me both (1) seriously annoyed and (2) wondering, “Am I fat and didn’t know it?”
First was a trip to a local My Fit Foods (MFF) store to get some healthy grab-and-go meals, a busy working professional’s best friend. I’d hoped for a Chicago version of Snap Kitchen, one of the places I still sorely miss from my Austin days. No such luck. MFF doesn’t color code their meals with gluten-free, paleo-style, etc., so I was stuck pulling out every meal and reading the ingredient list. But that was minor compared to the sales guy …
After saying hello, he launched into how great MFF is for weight loss and how it can help me achieve my goals. He also told me that MFF recommends the small portions for women, unless they’re very active, so he’d recommend the small ones for me.
Subtext: You look like you’ve got some weight to lose and that you’re not very athletic.
I should’ve challenged him to arm wrestle (I probably would’ve won) or stormed out, but I let him continue to dig the hole. I interrupted him to ask about the carbs in the “low-carb” dinners. Rather than directly answering my question to get at the “why” (I’m allergic to gluten and feel best with paleo-style eating), he launched into MFF’s philosophy about people not needing lots of carbs before bed.
I bought three meals (medium portions, thank you very much!) and only liked one of them. Disappointing, yes, but also a relief because now I can avoid that schmuck 100% without missing out on anything.
A few days after that CX fail, I started my trial membership at FFC, a gym in my neighborhood. (I figure I’ll be less and less inclined toward outdoor activities as Chicago winter hits, so want to line up options.) The trainer weighed me without comment. I asked him to take my measurements, too, since I care more about being lean than being light. That’s when things went downhill.
He started by measuring my waist. His comment: “XX inches – same as mine!” I couldn’t believe it. I almost laughed in disbelief. He then measured my bicep. His comment: “XX inches – check out those anaconda arms!” Fortunately, he didn’t have any comments about my thigh, though he did note it down as a hip measurement, so maybe he found it unbelievably small!
Subtext: You have a waist like a 6-foot-tall dude and arms like one, too!
It was clear that he, like the MFF guy, assumed I want to lose weight, regaling me with how he and the gym can help me achieve those goals. I smiled non-commitally, but my inner monologue was very similar to that day back in MFF – something along the lines of, “You’ve got to be kidding me, you schmuck. Why don’t you ask me what my goals are? Why don’t you take a breath long enough to let me get a word in edgewise, rather than more permanently cementing yourself of my bad list?”
My narrow takeaway from these two experiences is this: Even if you work in a health, fitness, or food business, don’t assume that every patron is primarily concerned with his/her weight or that commenting on body size is cool. If I think I’m fat, I don’t want you pointing it out. If I think I’m not, I definitely don’t!
My broader takeaway is to give your standard sales pitch a rest and try asking your customers what brought them to your business. Try listening to what they have to say, so you can cater your pitch – and maybe even your offering – to their specific needs. It will make your pitch more effective and leave them feeling heard rather than generalized.
Or, you know, fat.