Letter From The CEO: Oct 2014

Oct 2, 2014, 10:33 AM by

Let's talk…

So last week we put up the long-awaited bubble over the Arapahoe Y pool. Yesterday a police officer came by the Y with a decibel meter to measure the outside sound; someone had called the police to complain about the noise from the machine that inflates the bubble. The officer, of course, found that the hum coming from our pool area did not even come close to reaching code violation levels. In fact, he found the traffic noise from nearby Arapahoe was louder than the bubble-blower.

I don’t care that they complained, I care that they called the police before they called us.

Many of you wouldn’t know this, but I was once a police officer. One time, dispatch received a 911 call about a 4th of July picnic that the caller's neighbor was having. The caller felt the picnic was too loud (seriously, a 911 call in the middle of the day on the 4th of July). I ended up walking the caller over to their neighbor, introducing them to each other and asking them to work it out. Turns out, they had never met!

Come on people! Pick up the phone, walk over, send a smoke signal, string some cans up or send an email. There are so many ways to communicate, and instead, too many of us try to talk via third parties.

Let's get back to the point: What do both of these stories have in common? Bad communication.

Every now and then, I will get someone who comes to me with a concern and they say, “Everyone is mad about this.” I have a hard time quantifying that. If everyone is angry about something, everyone should put in a complaint card. Want to get my attention? Twenty separate members putting in comment cards with the same complaint will get my attention. What I also hear from time to time is that someone complained to our staff and “no one ever got back to me about that.” That is one of my major hot buttons. I have a rule: Phone calls should be returned in one business day and any written complaints should be answered if contact information is given.

In a couple of weeks, we will put up new complaint boxes—though, our marketing department will probably label them “comment boxes" or "suggestion boxes”—but in essence, they are a place for you to tell us where we are failing to meet your expectations. I am tasking key staff to respond to those comments quickly, even if it's just to say that they will get back to you after they look into it. However, if you don’t hear back fairly quickly from those staff, then I encourage you to contact me directly and let me know about it. The front desk can connect you to my office phone or you can email me at [email protected]. This is where the communication part comes in: If you contact me, I will respond. I am making that commitment to you, but it has to be directly to me.

Also, each of us has a responsibility to communicate with each other in a manner that works. For example, we put a lot of our communications on our Facebook page; class cancellations are on our app; and building closures are posted in writing in the facility as well as on the app, website and Facebook. Our newsletters are witty, informative and scintillating, and they make you aware of all sorts of news. With all of those modes of communication, I am stunned that we have people who are still surprised by an event, schedule change or closure, and then they get angry with us for not telling them. Please help us serve you and make you happy—but own your side of the relationship. Read our messages in whatever form best serves you.

Same rules apply: If we fail to inform you of something, no need to call the cops. Just let me know, and we can work it out.


Thank You, 
Chris Coker 
CEO/President of YMCA of Boulder Valley