Keeping loyal customers is more cost-effective than constantly searching for new ones, and an exceptional member experience tends to result in higher satisfaction and more referrals. All this means more business, more renewals, and happier members. Brands with exceptional customer experience bring in 5.7 times more revenue than competitors.
Excellent customer service ties in with stellar customer experience and good customer service is a crucial part of boosting member retention. A good attitude, the ability to solve problems, and going above and beyond are all vital. In this article, we discuss the ingredients of excellent customer service and how to develop and nurture excellent customer service at your gym. Skip ahead to:
- Why Customer Service is Important at the Gym
- 3 Elements of Great Customer Service
- How to Develop and Nurture Great Customer Service
Why Customer Service is Important at the Gym
Customer service forms part of your broader member retention strategy; excellent service and experience at the gym mean higher referral rates and member happiness. Successful businesses usually have high levels of customer service and, therefore, have high customer satisfaction. The potential benefits of consistently delivering excellent customer service include:
- Boost sales and retention
- Customer loyalty
- Increase the value of your business
- Build brand reputation
- Improve word of mouth marketing
When your staff is dealing with satisfied customers, it can help create a positive working environment, a more productive workforce, and reduce employee turnover.
Member experience and customer service are crucial to success. When members are treated well, they will come back again and again. Even when something does go wrong, it should be treated as a one-off incident. Whether it’s a fitness instructor or check-in staff at the front desk, excellent customer service should be consistent throughout the business.
3 Elements of Great Customer Service
There are a ton of contributing factors to great customer service. It’s not defined by just one action; it’s a combination of behaviors and deliverables. The majority of people know what it’s like to experience bad customer service and how they feel leaving that business. Are they going to go back? It’s unlikely. That’s why your customer service is so important.
1. Meeting and Surpassing Expectations
Members have a certain level of expectation when it comes to your business and customer service. When you regularly exceed customer expectations, it can help retain members and drive loyalty. When you’re providing incredible customer service, members are more likely to come back because you’re making life so easy for them.
2. Rapid Communication
In customer service, it’s crucial to have excellent communication skills and respond rapidly to members. Speak clearly and actively reply to messages and calls promptly. Keep an eye on your social media and be ready to reply to any queries or direct messages. Nowadays, consumers expect a more-or-less instantaneous response, especially with platforms like Facebook messenger and Twitter. This gives you the opportunity to steer a public complaint into private messages so that you can deal with the issue effectively and not on a public forum.
3. Attitude is Everything
Attitude is a big deal. Things like saying hello with a friendly smile as members walk through the door or handling any problems with a calm and patient approach are essential. Whether it’s talking to members on the phone, online, or in person, attitude is critical. A positive attitude helps lead to positive customer experience. It leaves them feeling good about your brand and wanting to come back.
How to Develop and Nurture Great Customer Service
Excellent customer service is centered around treating people the way you would like to be treated. When you make the experience of visiting your gym, taking a class, and paying so simple and easy, you’re creating a positive customer experience, nurturing member relationships, and building brand loyalty.
1. Greet & Learn Names Quickly
When a potential customer walks through the door, you tend to go above and beyond to make them feel welcomed as you want them to sign up for a membership. But after the buzz clears, do you continue to give them that same level of service every time they walk through the door?
A great tip is to learn and memorize members’ names quickly so that you can greet them by name when they come in. This helps to build rapport and strengthen personal relationships. When you say hello, greet members by name and remember something personal to them, it makes them feel more important.
2. Be Active & Responsive Online
It’s generally accepted that email and phone lines aren’t open 24 hours a day. Customers tend to stick to working hours, and they understand that they might have to wait for a response out of hours. However, social media support has an ‘always-on’ image. 42% of consumers expect a social media response within 60 minutes. That’s a pretty quick turnaround.
Because of current consumer expectations, responding quickly online to reviews, messages, inquiries, and complaints, is a part of an excellent social media customer service strategy. Suppose you are consistently providing a poor response time. In that case, members may share the experience with friends and family, visit your gym less in the future, or complain publicly on your social media channels.
3. Encourage and Listen to Feedback
Whether it’s online, in-person, or via email, always encourage and listen to feedback. When you are taking your members’ views and feedback on board, you can make any changes quickly that may result in a member leaving or sharing a negative review if left unchecked. Many people read online reviews, so you must reply to online reviews, both positive and negative.
The feedback you get from your current members is so valuable. Whether it’s positive or negative, it allows you to improve your business. There are several ways you can encourage members to leave feedback such as online surveys, an anonymous suggestion box in the gym, or speak to members during their next visit.
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4. Celebrate Birthdays and Events
A birthday is an excellent opportunity to surpass member expectations. It’s your chance to make the day special and provide an exceptional level of customer service. Whether it’s a birthday or the anniversary of joining your gym, use special events and occasions to make members feel special.
When new members sign up for your services, make sure to keep track of any important dates. If you know a member is heading to their favorite fitness class on their birthday, you could surprise them with a birthday cupcake, a happy birthday card, or a birthday email with a gift card.
5. Create a Referral Program
A referral program is a cost-effective way to increase your word of mouth marketing. An effective program offers an incentive for both the referrer and the referee. The referral system is based on you providing great customer service and delivering an incredible member experience. The member then recommends your service to friends and family for an incentive or reward.
When your referral rate is high, you know you’re delivering excellent customer experience. If your referral program isn’t providing referrals, you need to ask yourself why? An effective referral program should provide a return on investment over time and give the customer the power. Incentive ideas include a free branded t-shirt or water bottle, class pass for a friend, or a discount at a local fitness store.
6. Train Your Staff
Your team is responsible for delivering excellent customer service. Give them the best chance to do this. You know that customer service is vital at the gym, so this should be at the forefront of your mind during the hiring process. Look out for a positive attitude, problem-solving skills, and great communication from the beginning.
Regularly train staff on all elements of customer service and set the expectation. Keep your employees motivated to deliver excellent service. This could be through a rewards scheme or incentives for hitting customer service goals or great feedback from members. Your team is one of the most critical parts of your customer service strategy, so ensure they have all the tools they need to be successful.
7. Streamline and Personalize Customer Experience
Today’s consumers are savvier than ever, and many of them are looking for a more tailored experience for their specific needs. A personalized and streamlined experience forms part of an excellent customer service strategy. Customers want a unique member experience that fits their needs. Successful gyms create this kind of experience.
When every touchpoint and exposure to your business is simple and quick, you’re making the customer experience so easy. Exceptional customer service delivers an unforgettable experience. All these elements tie in with one another to increase customer loyalty and boost retention.
8. Go the Extra Mile
When you go the extra mile for your customer regularly, it allows you to upsell your services. You’re in the business of helping members achieve their health and fitness goals, so you need to go the extra mile to drive results and keep members motivated. A high level of service, combined with a genuine interest in your members’ needs, helps retain long-term customers.
To go the extra mile, find ways to add value to your services. Think about how you can maximize your membership and subscription to drive value. Creating a world-class customer service is one way that you can go above and beyond.
9. Get Involved in the Local Community
It’s a good idea to integrate your gym with the local community. Community outreach can be positive for your brand image and reputation. It can also increase how customers view your business. In turn, this can increase member satisfaction and boost loyalty to your gym. There are several ways you can get your gym involved in the local community, such as:
- Outdoor community fitness event
- Support a local charity
- Local radio
- Offer community weight-loss or fitness training sessions
10. Own Up to Your Mistakes
No one is perfect. Businesses are run by people, and people make mistakes. The important thing is that when you do make a mistake, you own up to it. Customers value honesty and transparency. If you get caught in a lie, it can damage the trust you have built. That damage may be irreparable.
When a mistake happens, apologize, and set it right with urgency. If there’s been a problem with a payment, rectify the situation quickly, but be honest. Everything you do as a business should help to build trust with your members and potential customers. Try to show empathy in difficult situations and solve a problem with patience and understanding.
It’s no secret that the fitness industry is saturated. So, to make sure your studio or gym stands out, you need to deliver excellent customer service. Your customer service strategy will be a key part of member retention and brand loyalty.
Customer service can have a significant impact on your bottom line. It’s carried by every member of your team from the front desk staff to fitness instructors. However, the gym owner sets the tone and expectation of excellent customer service for their business. When members feel special, valued, and appreciated, they will keep coming back and renewing their gym membership.