By Fred Hoffman, M.Ed., SUCCEED! Speaker
Living in a world connected 24/7 by digital devices has changed the way we sell memberships and services and interact with potential and active customers. It’s even transformed how we communicate with fitness studio members, respond to prospect inquiries and handle complaints.
As a result, your members’ expectations have changed. They anticipate rapid, often instantaneous, results and feedback. And this applies to online and offline communication. In the fitness studio space, you deal with members and clients in person, face to face. Interestingly, their expectations are now very similar to what they expect when online.
Regardless of how, when or where the communications and interactions take place, customer service at your fitness studio must be excellent. That means in every aspect of the business where there is contact with potential or actual members and clients.
These contacts are most often referred to as “touch points” or channels. Examples include e-mail, text messages, websites, blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Twitter, a virtual assistant or Chabot, phone calls, snail mail, WhatsApp, front-desk staff, group-exercise instructors, personal trainers…to name a few! Think of your communication to members and prospects as a multi-channel approach.
Unfortunately, with so many different channels, important ones might get ignored or forgotten, which results in a breakdown of communication and service. And that leads to unhappy customers.
Regardless of how, when or where the communications and interactions take place, customer service at your fitness studio must be excellent.
So, what does this mean for fitness studio owners and gym operators? You must evaluate and take stock of how each channel is functioning then make adjustments when necessary.
Here are four ways that your fitness studio can get, and stay, on the right track to creating an outstanding customer experience:
Define Your Fitness Business
You must clearly define what your business is, the services and goods you provide, and who your target market is. This is fundamental, allowing all your staff to be on the same page and customers to understand what they are actually purchasing. Defining your business will also help you avoid unclear messaging, customer deception and having to clean up unnecessary messes.
“Audit” Each Customer Service Channel
Take a fresh look at where and how your business comes in contact with potential and current members or clients. Basically, conduct an inventory, noting who manages each channel, how customer service is provided through that channel, and by whom. From there, determine if each channel is working as you feel it should be (see below).
Streamline Your Efforts
Evaluate and measure the efficiency of all your channels. These days there is a tendency to be everywhere, such as posting to every social media platform. However, you can’t be everywhere all at once in an effective and efficient manner.
Consider if you really need to be on so many communication platforms. Evaluate and measure the value of each one, then make a “stay or go” decision based on your findings. It’s also possible that you might stay with a channel, but need to change the way that you leverage it.
Communicate Effectively with Staff
Get your entire team onboard when any organizational or policy changes are implemented. This is easily accomplished with clear and frequent communication. Practice active listening and be open to feedback. Your team is your front line; these are the people who are in direct contact with customers and clients, both online and offline! With that in mind, remember that happy staff = happy members.
With strategic planning, a clear vision and a motivated, switched-on team, your fitness business can exceed customer expectations in this digital world.
Discover more about successful customer service strategies in Fred Hoffman’s SUCCEED! session: Customer Service in the Digital Age: 5 Winning Strategies to Exceed Expectations. Join us at SUCCEED! AFS' Business Convention & Expo, April 12-14, in Irvine, California.
Fred is the owner of Fitness Resources, an education and consultancy company, which specializes in staff training, professional career development, social media strategies and marketing solutions for health clubs, fitness centers, boutique studios, and spas. The author of Going Global: An Expert’s Guide to Working Abroad in the International Fitness Industry, Fred has been working in the wellness and health industry for over thirty years. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and is an ambassador for UFIT.
Based in Paris, Fred’s expertise and enthusiasm have taken him to more than 50 countries on six continents to speak at over 200 conferences, and to serve as a consultant on a variety of projects. He has authored numerous articles and has appeared in over 170 international publications and e-media. Fred is the recipient of the 2007 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year Award, and in 2001 he was elected to the International Who's Who of Professionals.