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Easy to implement proactive customer service strategies to shift away from a reactionary approach. 

The year 2020 was a year of reacting to unknowns. Nobody could have predicted just how much the pandemic would affect our businesses and our customers. As we move into a new phase, it is important to shift the focus from being reactive to being proactive. This is especially important in customer service when dealing with our members. Reactive customer service is taking action after an issue or concern occurs. We better serve our members when we work to identify issues and take action before they occur.

Being proactive in the way we deal with customers alleviates stress for front line staff, provides a better experience for members, shows strong brand value, and helps to boost retention. Happy customers also generate more referrals. With stress at an all time high for many, creating a less stressful environment is paramount for club and customer health.

Moving away from reactive into a proactive approach requires planning and willingness to find and acknowledge where the member may experience “hiccups.” Here are some proactive customer service strategies that are easy to implement and will get you started in the shift away from a reactionary approach:

Encourage customer feedback.

Gather customer surveys. Use the data you collect to formulate service strategies that actually speak to the customer. Let them know their voices are being heard by reporting on results and providing an action plan to address any concerns.

Answer questions before they are asked.

Does your club website have a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section that puts the member in the driver seat to help themselves? Find out from staff what those FAQs are and address them before members have to ask. Our club chooses to put FAQs on the back of every fitness schedule. Group fitness can be intimidating and we want to equip members with knowledge that makes them feel more comfortable to try new things.

Measure your customer service efforts.

Do you know your Net Promoter Score (NPS)? If you are not tracking your retention rate, you should start. How well you retain your members, can give you a glimpse of how well you are serving them.

Train your staff.

Have you ever heard a front line staff person say “I don’t know” or just give out wrong information? That can be incredibly frustrating for members. Arm front line staff with the information they need in order to assist members. Make sure they know where to go to find answers quickly.

Be up front when there is an issue that affects customers.

Is a machine down? Are there issues with the HVAC? Place signage to keep members up-to-date on the progress of repairs. Not only do members appreciate being updated it helps save the frustration of staff receiving the same question throughout the day.

Keep members informed.

Make sure your members are “in the know.” During the pandemic our club sent out weekly emails to make sure members knew their needs and safety were still on the club’s radar. By providing regular, constant communication your members feel a part of the process and do not feel left in the dark.

Make proactive customer service an organizational goal.

For the culture to shift from reactive to proactive, your entire team needs to be on board. Front line staff, department managers, and everyone in between needs to buy into the importance of this approach. In order to be less reactive, thinking ahead should become second nature.

If you find you are currently operating primarily in a reactive way, choose one or two proactive strategies and start the shift. Proactive customer service helps keep members happy and turns them into brand ambassadors, boosting retention and increasing recruitment. The extra effort and time to think ahead will pay off in both customer and employee satisfaction.

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Sandy Wiedmeyer

Sandy Wiedmeyer is the fitness manager at the RecPlex in Pleasant Prairie Wisconsin, and a member of WIFA as a Midwest Global Ambassador.

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