We love NPS!

We love NPS. It’s simple. We started measuring NPS (Net Promoter Score) right after reading Fred Reichheld’sDecember 2003 Harvard Business Review article. LOVE NPS!   It is a great “North Star” for getting company-wide focus on the member (customer) experience. It remains one of our company’s four main KPIs. The target for our health clubs is to maintain a Trailing 90 Day NPS > 70.

But we learned quickly that to really enable the management of the member experience we needed to better understand the member experience. The “likelihood to recommend” question was a great start. But it hid many of our company’s shortcomings as it wasn’t an accurate representation of the entire MEMBER JOURNEY. By itself, it didn’t uncover our members’ deeper ideas, concerns and even valuable praise. We also struggled with accountability – How do I, as a front desk team member, ACCOUNT for my impact on our NPS?

When companies deploy an NPS only approach to Operational Customer Experience Management (OCEM), we see it result in a series of tactics to find “Detractors” and to mitigate their risk of cancelling. This tactical approach to OCEM returns only a fraction of the value one should be leveraging when going through the trouble of collecting member feedback. It also does not reveal the issues (sometimes major issues) your Promoters have with your company.

The first rule of OCEM is to really see yourself as the member sees you. You need metrics that you can track to their entire journey and once they give you that quantitative feedback, they are now primed to give you richer qualitative feedback.

For example, while I am writing this I reviewed feedback from a “Promoter”. This person gave a 10 on Likelihood to Recommend (LTR). They gave their reason as “Great club! Super clean.”Okay, if those are the only questions I allowed her to answer then our job with her is done! But read on. Once this SAME MEMBER had a chance to reflect on (and score) her whole journey, she added the following: “I have had 3 trainers. One left after 2 sessions, the next one was fired after we trained for several months and the third was promoted to another club within one month of us training, Very discouraging. No continuity. Why would I buy another series?” THAT is the information I needed.  Buried in her journey was a major issue. Now, instead of the false pat-on-the-back we would have given ourselves, we have uncovered an issue. In fact this may not be a small issue. Conducting root cause on this might reveal a HUGE opportunity to improve the experience for all of the personal training clients.  But if you are only asking the LTR question and “what was your reason?” you are not getting the value you need.

But we are still talking about tactics. What about your strategy? In order for you to be successful with your strategy, do you need to have a customer service oriented culture? Chances are, if you are in the fitness business the answer is “yes.”

The challenge with an NPS only program is that is very hard to move your customer-centric plans from being just ink on paper to the blood in the veins of your entire team. Getting the feedback to align with the member journey so that every team member takes ownership of the customer experience is how to make that happen.

Enter the science of great technology, survey design and a systematic approach for closing-the-loop, fixing individual issues, performing root-cause analysis and building culture.

The member experience is a complex thing to understand. It should not be treated as a transaction. When done right this complexity can be presented in simple and beautiful ways that engage your entire company. I started with Einstein and will finish with Oliver Wendell Holmes – “I wouldn’t give a fig for simplicity on this side of complexity. But I would give my right arm for simplicity on the other side of complexity.”

This blog was originally published Nov. 24, 2015 by Blair McHaney. We hope it fires you up to start really understanding what your members think about you.

Employee Engagement = Member Engagement

No surprise here.  When your front lines are more engaged, they deliver a better customer experience.  But how much better?  This recent Forbes article showing research done by Beth Benjamin, Senior Director of Research at Medallia and Fred Reichheld, inventor of Net Promoter System, quantifies just how important this can be. 

Creating a regular feedback loop with all employees and allowing them to offer ways to improve both the member and the employee experience will help guide you to greater frontline engagement.   






Ahhh! They hate me.

Feeling bad today? Well, you are not the only one. Last week, I had a conversation with one of my clients who recently started asking his customers for feedback. It turns out they hate him (at least one person anyway) and I mean really hate him! In fact, after they told him off, they went on social media and ranted for paragraphs. “Ahhh! They hate me.” I’m sorry was all he could say and then he gave me a call.

Has this ever happened to you? What starts with good intention (asking for some feedback to improve your business) becomes a situation that causes you to consider quitting your job, closing your business and moving to another city. The pain is real and to be honest this situation will probably occur again especially once you open yourself up to feedback on a regular basis. You are exposing yourself to the truth or a version of it according to (________).

The truth is, you may discover you or your business is not exactly what you hoped, your business may not be delivering on the promises made to your customers, you might need to make some big changes. This can be gut wrenching to hear and you will be tempted to reject what they are saying. Is it fair to assume you will probably feel angry and defensive? Here is what I told my client, take a few minutes or maybe a few days and recall that you are hearing just one perspective on your business. Look at the other feedback you have received. You may also hear that you have absolutely exceeded someone’s expectations. You may discover your company’s biggest fan and learn how you can make them even happier. The good and bad almost always come together.

Here it is… the tough feedback can make you better if you try to look for truth in the barrage. There is some solace when you remember that you are not universally hated. When you are in this tough place of introspection lean on the council and comfort of friends, colleagues, and fans who can help you see the bigger picture. Their feedback may be what you really needed to hear all along.

Don’t ever quit but you should probably start to understand your company from the perspective of your customers. Is your vision actually being realized? You customers will let you know.

It’s always your fault…

It’s always your fault…

I love that quote.  It speaks to the heart of how great companies operate and how great companies THINK about the customer experience.  How many time have we all heard “perception is reality”?  In other words, if a member thinks your staff is unfriendly and rude, then that is their reality.  But that doesn’t take it far enough.

7 Practices of Customer Experience Management

What is customer experience management? Anyone can collect customer feedback but turning that feedback into actual operations activities is the key. We call that OCEM or Operational customer experience management, which involves listening to customers and improving their experience by implementing changes based on that feedback. OCEM is not new to large enterprises that have big budgets along with a host of analysts and researchers as well as a driving desire to differentiate themselves from competition. But OCEM may be new—and a challenge—to smaller companies.

The fitness industry has pockets of companies with incredible customer loyalty and experience with OCEM. No matter what kind of fitness facility you run, you are a service business. You pay people to do things that are supposed to make the members’ experience better. OCEM systems tell you if that is working. They measure what, up until now, has been lost in the ether of the club. The following are 7 ways that great companies use OCEM. Let us know how we can help you put these things into practice.

  1. They set OCEM goals and measure progress. The key to OCEM is to talk to your members about customer experience, then measure it. As one company leader put it, “By the time poor customer experience shows up on your profit and loss, it’s too late.” Every gym owner should use a system to capture member feedback and benchmark against widely accepted methods for quantifying customer experience.
  2. They embrace all feedback. The best companies do not get bogged down in dogma. Negative feedback as well as positive feedback are embraced and deeply investigated to recover customers and improve the future experience for all. Every individual piece of feedback matters.
  3. They close the loop. When customers provide feedback, they get responses. Your members want to know that they have been heard. Your OCEM design should allow each of your locations to receive a stream of feedback at a pace that is easily manageable by the front line on a daily basis.
  4. They socialize feedback. These operators share with their staff the company’s scores for friendliness, cleanliness, overall experience or likelihood to repurchase. Staff discuss and dissect the numbers in meetings. Customer comments are used to support the desired culture. This is easy in the gym environment, and it is fun. I send comments to our entire staff about twice a week emphasizing what makes us different and thanking the staff for doing what we cannot do without them.
  5. They nurture staff engagement. Part of the reason you need to socialize customer data is that it increases staff engagement. Business owners make sure all corners of their operations are aware of key loyalty metrics relative to goals and to peers in the system.
  6. They know that customer experience leads. Downward trends in customer experience scores are the leading indicators for customer exodus. Awareness around customer experience allows one to see what has not been visible and to respond before it hits the profit and loss statement.
  7. They never stop. These companies listen, respond thoughtfully, recover customers, make changes to delight and keep customers, set targets and measure the effectiveness of their efforts. This is how OCEM works and how companies differentiate by enchanting their customers. The playing field is wide open in the fitness industry. Operators with the right philosophy, the tenacity and the willingness to learn from enterprises more experienced and more profitable than ours will reap the greatest benefits.

Track Fitness Results Perception!


In your member feedback system, asking whether a member is satisfied with their fitness results has multiple levels of impact! 


When a member responds to this question they are not judging how well YOU (the club) has done in helping them achieve results.  The member will be judging how well they have done being personally responsible about their own results.  That is a HUGE benefit to you since it highlights how well you can be the hero and support the member!  Many of our customers use low fitness results scores as a way to engage members into programs and services.  When you add in smart segmentation like age categories, tenure of membership, spend levels, you learn SO much more about how to help your members.  Moreover, when we filter all responses in the last year for members ranking their fitness results from 0-6 and compare that to members ranking their fitness results a 9-10, the difference in NPS is astounding!  The 0-6 Fitness Result group has a trailing 6 months NPS of -8.8 (yep, thats a minus).  The 9-10 Fitness Result group has a trailing 6 months NPS of 76.3!  

Idea Criteria


If you are listening to the voice of your customer then you probably already know that they contribute a lot of ideas.  How do you know when they have contributed a good one?  Try defining what would constitute an exceptional idea in advance.  Especially for incremental improvement ideas (small ideas).


If you can set the right criteria then you can get velocity behind the implementation of customer ideas.  This contributes to your continuous improvement culture and sends a strong message to staff and members!  One of our customers sets a monthly budget for member ideas at $500 then sets the following criteria:  1) Is it cheap?  2) Is it easy and fast to get done?   3) Does it help the member and the business?   4) Does it align with our brand?  If there are 4 "yes" answers then the team is empowered to execute the idea without further permission.  

Rockin' Review


What is the ideal review you would like to see appear on Yelp! or Facebook or Google?  Take a shot at writing it yourself.  No you aren't going to post it!  But think about what an ideal service experience would be.  What knocked your socks off?  Be specific!  This becomes a great training document for you and your team! 

Extra Credit 

Ask each of your team members to write the review that they would like to see written about them personally.  Facilitate a discussion about how this can become reality.  


Discussion about how to make these experiences the norm will reveal what people need to get thew job done and maybe more importantly, what obstacles are in their way!  Often times delivering a great customer experience is more about subtraction than addition!   



Invite your customer (through a tool like Pinterest or in person in a small group) to build a collage of images that represent your customer experience.  Ask them to explain the significance of the images they chose.  

Extra Credit

Invite a group of Detractors to do this in-person.  This could reveal some of the raw emotions around certain parts of the customer experience and make them more tangible for your team.  


This exercise can help your customers capture the emotions behind the surface experience.  Images are a powerful way to bring complex or nuanced issues and feelings to light.  

Best Practice: Humor


When and where appropriate, injecting humor into your customer experience can surprise customers and/or lighten situations. Being funny without being offensive is a delicate balance, but if your brand and your people can pull it off, create the opportunity for humor.


Southwest Airlines flight attendants are famous for their entertaining in-flight announcements. CD Baby sends hysterical auto emails after every CD purchase. Check out the dozens of great examples of humor in practice, and you'll find the right degree for your brand.

Made to Be Broken


What are the implicit (or explicit) rules that govern the way your employees interact with your customers? Write down as many as you can think of. Then talk about how you could successfully break each rule.


Sometimes we unconsciously handcuff our employees' ability to provide great service. Many rules go unwritten and are just adopted as norms. Being honest about the perceived rules will help you rewrite the rulebook altogether.

Long Exposure


Have you ever seen a long-exposure photo of car headlights on a dark road? Create a similar effect. Sit in one of your locations and draw the path of every customer coming through as a line on the same map. Superimpose the lines on top of one another.


Look for patterns... the places where the carpet is worn (figuratively or literally). When you know the most traveled paths, you can think about how to use the adjacent spaces to upsell and cross-sell. Or make small adjustments to streamline the flow of customers.

Five Levels of Why


Take one aspect of your customer experience and ask why it is the way it is. Capture the answer. Then ask why again and again until you have gone five "whys" deep. 

Or take a piece of customer feedback and ask yourself why the customer feels that way. Capture the answer. Then ask why again and again until you have gone five "whys" deep.


Sometimes we accept aspects of our customer experience as they are, when we should be challenging our assumptions. Asking five "whys" consecutively forces us to understand the real drivers.



What is it like to work on your frontline? To take frustrated customer calls all day long? To work the front desk? To clean the bathrooms? Set aside one day each month to work a frontline job yourself.


The way you communicate with the frontline will change. The training programs you design will change. And your messages and requests will have far more credibility when they are grounded in personal experience.



Your executives have a lot of priorities - why should they focus on customer experience improvements? Build a plan to make your C-Suite your biggest advocates. Connect customer experience to the metrics they care about most. Equip them with the anecdotes they need to articulate impact.


Most people are reactive, building one-off presentations when requested. But if you are always ready, always seeding program impact and anecdotes, your influence is more profound. Put your C-Suite engagement plan into action.