A great member experience is a non-negotiable part of running a fitness business. In a membership-based business, the experience is what defines your business. It makes you stand out from the competition and creates a positive association with your business.
By understanding how your members think, you can discover what they want and figure out the type of experience they want with your business. You can have a great workout and business plan, but your member experience is what makes you unique. It’s what attracts a cult following and builds member loyalty. In this article, we talk about everything you need to know about creating an incredible member experience.
Skip ahead to:
- What is the Member Experience?
- The Effects of COVID-19 On The Member Experience
- 3 Elements of Exceptional Member Experience
- 9 Tips for Incredible Member Experience in 2021
What is the Member Experience?
In today’s increasingly digital world, the member experience matters more than ever, especially in the fitness industry. Member experience includes customer service but goes beyond that. To increase and enhance your member’s experience, you need to focus on different elements within your business.
A great member experience is personalized, relevant, seamless, and consistent. It starts at the first point of contact with customers. From the front desk to your fitness class and digital fitness platform, the member experience should be emulated across multiple platforms and touchpoints. Your member experience is the opportunity to go above and beyond your services to surprise your customer and create a loyal membership base.
The Glofox Connect series of roundtables delves into the topic of member experience even further. Industry experts talk about the new normal for member experience and how the best are doing it post-COVID-19.
The Effects of COVID-19 On The Member Experience
The impact of the coronavirus on customer behavior was pretty immediate. Across multiple industries, consumer behavior, priorities, and mindset shifted quickly following the initial pandemic. Core human values and beliefs have realigned with a massive focus on health and safety.
Many purchases and experiences have switched to online and digital, this is especially true in the fitness industry. The rise of the digital fitness experience means that gyms and fitness studios are running with a hybrid business model. They are tailoring their digital offering to fit in with changing consumer behavior. As cities go in and out of lockdowns, many facilities are either closed or running at a reduced capacity. Fitness businesses have had to evolve to not only survive but to cater to an audience that has a fresh acceptance of home fitness.
The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the adoption of digital fitness. This means that you now need to create not only the best experience in-person but online too. Online fitness doesn’t need to compete with traditional fitness services but complements it. Your digital offering is essential to the overall member experience. The member experience has evolved, you now need to deliver experience round the clock, not just during a gym visit. Expectations are higher and it takes strategy and smart thinking to over-deliver and wow your members.
Adam Zeitsiff, the President and CEO of Intelivideo, talks about how fitness operators can deliver a winning hybrid experience. In an episode on the Fitness Founders Podcast, he talks about how you can create value for your members with an online offering and how to use hyper-personalization to stay ahead of the competition.
3 Elements of Exceptional Member Experience
There are several elements that contribute to an exceptional member experience. These parts combine together to make a seamless experience for your members. By actively taking steps to enhance the customer experience, you can continue to evolve as a business. Here are three elements of a great member experience.
Member Journey Mapping
The best member experience starts with a solid understanding of the member journey map. By looking at your business from your member’s viewpoint, you can find ways to improve the overall experience. Think about how your members feel during their experiences, and their needs, obstacles, and wants. When designing your member experience, emotions are essential. You want your members to feel positive about your business. By mapping your member journey, you can start at the beginning and determine the type of experience that meets your members’ needs and wants.
Understand Pain Points
When you identify and understand pain points along the member journey, it gives you the opportunity to enhance the member experience. Exceptional experience comes from a place of deep understanding of your members and target audience.
Find Gaps in the Member Experience
Track and measure performance so that you can make changes. By measuring happiness within your fitness community, you can find gaps in the member experience. This gives you the opportunity to take your experience to a new level of success. You can measure customer satisfaction through surveys and NPS (net promoter score). Continue to evolve with your members and implement change by listening and asking for member feedback.
The Customer Engagement Playbook for Your Fitness Business
A fitness industry veteran, Chris Stevenson, talks about how the member experience is more important than ever right now. He talks about using data to improve the member experience and how to empower your staff to deliver an incredible experience.
9 Tips for Incredible Member Experience in 2021
As a gym owner, member retention is crucial to the success of your business. By nurturing your members and creating an incredible experience, you can create happy and loyal members. This leads to more referrals and positive associations with your business. Here are nine tips for an incredible member experience in 2021.
1. Safety and Hygiene
Safety and hygiene are a huge part of the member experience, especially in a post-COVID-19 world. No contact gyms, touchless technology and a high standard of hygiene will become the norm as people are much more aware of the spread of germs. Running a COVID-secure facility will give members the confidence to come back. There is now a certain level of expectation that businesses will need to meet specific standards to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Creating an experience that factors in high levels of safety and standard in terms of the pandemic, will be important now and in the future.
2. Employee Culture
An essential part of developing and delivering your member experience is your employees. You need to create and promote an internal culture that’s focused on member experience. Empower your employees to deliver the level of member experience that you require. To do this, you need to give them all the tools necessary. This process starts at the hiring stages. When you hire new talent, look out for professionals that share your passion for helping people and have the communication and personal skills to deliver a great experience. Your staff onboarding program and ongoing training should encourage a positive workplace culture. In turn, this creates employees focused on delivering an exceptional experience and member service.
3. Thriving Community
Develop and nurture a thriving fitness community. Some of the most successful fitness brands place a big focus on community. This helps members to feel like they belong, fosters good relationships, and keeps them motivated to workout. When you feel like you’re joining a big community, it can help to keep you accountable. It’s important to maintain an authentic community feel both in-person and digitally. Your virtual fitness community is essential for member engagement and motivation. A positive fitness experience and thriving community are crucial for both your in-person location and digital fitness platform.
4. Digital Fitness Experience
Creating an incredible digital fitness experience is hard. To continue to provide your services to members, expand your offering, and engage members from afar, your digital fitness experience is paramount. Consider how you will replicate that same sense of community, fun, and motivation in your online setting. Often, you need bigger personalities and instructors who are great on camera to develop an exceptional digital fitness experience. Barry Ennis and Shay Kostabi who host the Fitness Career Mastery Podcast, talk about creating a great online class experience. They discuss the fundamentals of coaching on camera and high-quality live streaming tips.
5. Ultra Personalization
Your members are not just one group of people who all have similar interests and dislikes. Gym members now expect more personalization in marketing, experiences, and services. These kinds of tactics go beyond addressing a member by their first name in an email. You can use hyper-personalization to recommend relevant classes and services to increase member retention. By using wearables and fitness trackers, you can create workout programs based on individuals. As more businesses use technologies like artificial intelligence and 3D scanning, you can create hyper-personalized fitness services.
6. Embrace Wearable Technology
Wearable technology gives you the opportunity to leverage data in your business. This gives you the opportunity to track member results to increase motivation. It can help you to show members more information in a way that’s digestible. Some fitness brands use wearable technology to increase fitness results. For example, F45 Training uses a heart monitor to track your heart rate so that you can have the most effective workout. By making it as easy as possible to get results and see your progress, it makes the member experience feel practically effortless.
7. Offer Flexible Membership Options
Providing convenient and flexible ways to access your services shows how you understand your members. Flexible payment methods and membership options tailored to the individual give members more convenience. Each member is different and why a monthly contract may work for someone, others may prefer your digital-only subscription service. When you are more flexible and give members complete control over their payments and membership, it’s much more convenient. Having a member portal is essential for taking bookings and payments as well as giving members control over their membership. One way to be more flexible is by allowing members to freeze their membership when they go on holiday.
8. Streamline Your Business
It should be easy for members to book classes, use your services, or stream your latest workout. Make bookings as easy and simple as possible using fitness member management software. Use e-signatures to save on printing paperwork and give members more control. With mobile apps and website portals, you can give members access to your digital fitness platform. Everything is about making the process simple, intuitive, and user-friendly. By streamlining your business, you can track data, use more personalization, and offer flexibility and convenience.
9. Ask For Feedback
One of the best ways to find out what your members think is by asking them. Ask for feedback on the member experience at key points along the customer journey. For example, ask how they find your new member onboarding process or their first online workout. You can monitor, analyze, and track the data you collect to improve your member experience strategy. To measure your NPS, stick to asking customers just one question on a rating of 1-10. You can then collect all this data and use the NPS scores to judge member satisfaction. For instance, if hardly any members would recommend you to a friend, then there’s an issue you need to address quickly.
An incredible member experience leaves customers wanting to come back and recommend you to friends. Touchless solutions can help create a safer fitness environment that gives members the confidence to rejoin you when you reopen. As interest in digital fitness continues to rise, your member experience needs to encompass both your in-person and virtual offerings.
By tracking customer satisfaction, you can take every opportunity to enhance the member experience and drive value to your members. The best member experiences are unique and leverage their differences to stand out from the competition. A great fitness setting, friendly staff, good personalization, and a strong sense of community all work together to create a brilliant member experience.