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Today’s Brand: The Member Experience

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It is essential to understand just how fragile our member relationships are. It is much easier to lose a member due to poor customer service than it is to create loyalty in the first place.

Members value consistency because they base their expectations on previous positive experiences. An exceptional experience is why the concept of franchising is so big. Sure, you can make a great hamburger, but when you go into a McDonald’s anywhere in the world, you are guaranteed similar attention to detail and, of course, quality. Therefore, it is crucial to not only deliver excellent customer service immediately, but to continue providing exceptional and consistent service every time.

The following are four strategies that should be prioritized to ensure a consistently positive experience:

Standardize your process. By intentionally designing your experience, members can be assured that consistent quality will be delivered every time. Pay special attention to:

  • The facility should be clean and presentable. 
  • Everyone should be greeted warmly every time. 
  • All staff should use the same essential language. For example:
    • Is this a gym, fitness center or health center?
    • Is this the whirlpool or hot tub?
  • All staff should be dressed professionally and positively conduct themselves.
  • All member concerns should be addressed quickly and with a consistent process.

Prioritize your members. Members are the reason we exist. Without them, there can be no community, and thus no connection — this makes your facility expendable. When the opportunity arises, when you find that a member needs attention, you must drop everything and give them your full attention. Greet these touchpoints as opportunities and not burdens.

Invest in employee training. Richard Branson once said, “Customers do not come first, employees come first.” Attracting and retaining good employees is essential to the health of any business. It becomes quickly apparent that for our companies to thrive, we need to do whatever is necessary to help employees do their jobs well.

It is incredibly common for employees to leave if they don’t receive the necessary training and feel like they are failing at their work. Research shows that a full 40% of employees who don’t receive the essential job training they need will leave their positions within the first year.

Here are a few excellent ways to develop your employees:

  • Emailing weekly articles on relevant skills.
  • Hold a weekly huddle to focus on one essential skill each week.
  • Add a training piece as an agenda item to your monthly facility meetings.
  • Use yearly review opportunities to not only reflect on past performance but to also create SMART goals for the upcoming year. A SMART goal is a goal that is:
    • Specific — target a specific area for improvement.
    • Measurable — quantify, or at least suggest, an indicator of progress.
    • Assignable — specify who will do it.
    • Realistic — state what results can realistically be achieved, given the available resources.
    • Time-related — specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
  • Support their learning goals by building a list with them of potential professional development opportunities they will receive throughout the year.

Deliver on your promises. Committing to deliver on high levels of service takes tremendous and intentional effort. If your business is willing to make long-term commitments to providing exceptional service, you should begin by developing a customer service program. This program should include the following criteria for success:

  • Define your service goals and build these standards into job descriptions.
  • Discuss your success at meeting these standards in your monthly meetings. 
  • Innovate by continually improving and refining your service process.
  • Consistently train staff and develop ongoing programs that will keep the business focused on service.
  • Sustain the enthusiasm for exceeding customer expectations by recognizing and rewarding your employee’s success stories. 

At the end of the day, listen to what your members have to say. They will tell you what they expect and how you can meet those expectations. Pay special attention to these important operational aspects of your facility:

  • Facilities should open on time.
  • Classes, seminars and appointments should start on time.
  • Member complaint resolution should happen quickly and, when possible, to their complete satisfaction.
  • Any equipment that is broken should be repaired quickly or removed from the floor.
  • Have an easy process for members to get feedback to you.

It is also important to remember that a member who is complaining is a lot better than a member who quits. Embrace their feedback as opportunities to improve upon your brand.

Success isn’t a happy accident, my friends.

 

Jason R. Stowell is the division director of fitness and wellness for JCC of Greater Pittsburgh. He is an award-winning fitness leader with over 20 years of successful experience providing strategic planning, talent management, and expert-level sales training in the health and fitness industry. Connect with him on LinkedIn here.

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