The goal of all health clubs is to increase member engagement, because members that actually use your facility are more likely to continue to use the club. However, 44% of all gym members are showing up to health clubs less than four times a month, making them high cancellation risk members. It is difficult to entice those once-a-weekers to come into the club and feel part of the community, as most health club owners know.
As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, a customer experience platform is one big way to stand out as a health club. It gives your customers a place to give feedback and be heard, and enhance their experience. But as a fitness club owner, what should you look for when finding the right customer experience platform? We’ve compiled three key things your health club management software should do.
I was talking to a customer the other day regarding his MXMetrics/Medallia CEM product and he said – “I think we should not be asking people to give us feedback so frequently. I think it should be twice a year instead of four times because some people keep bringing up something we can’t do anything about.” Now fortunately we are really good friends. I said “Seriously? Just because YOU don’t want to hear it?!” “What is it that you can’t do anything about?”
We are strong believers that four times a year in fitness is the right cadence for a member to have the opportunity to provide feedback. In fact members who provide feedback more frequently and are responded to will have faster increases in their customer experience scores than those responding less frequently. In addition you will garner massive customer experience metrics. In February of this year, one client looked at 6059 members falling into 4 categories – 1, 2, 3 or 4 responses in the last year. The increase in Likelihood to Recommend (NPS) scores was linear for repeat responders who provided feedback more frequently. Four interactions per year were more powerful than three. Three interactions were more powerful than two and two more powerful than one. This client group also does a good job of closing the loop with their members, which has an immediate impact on member experience. Did you catch that? If you have a solid discipline for humanizing your responses when you close the loop, then as a member I am getting a powerful touch point more frequently.
The protocol we use is to invite members to give feedback four times a year. That doesn’t mean we only look at feedback four times a year – it means that if you received an invitation to provide feedback today, you won’t be asked again for 90 days. You have the opportunity to give feedback four times every year and here is the key – if YOU feel like it. What is more important – whether the customer wants to provide feedback or whether you want to hear it? If the customer is choosing to give it, then let’s listen and respond candidly and warmly. Your response when you close the loop has an immediate impact on the member experience and ultimately revenue.
Embrace that opportunity
Let’s get back to the issue that “you can’t do anything about.” Suppose Tom is giving feedback for the 4th time. He rates you pretty high everywhere except or Locker Rooms and Showers. There he gives you 2 on a 0-10 scale and you already know what he doesn’t like because you have seen it before. You read his comment: “You guys need to fix these locker rooms. They’re too crowded and the lockers are too small. The counters are ugly and you need another toilet.”
This is the 4th time Tom has mentioned this this year. Would you have been better off not giving Tom the opportunity to give you feedback? In other words, would you have been better off reducing Tom’s opportunity to provide feedback to twice a year instead of four times? At Club Works we do get asked to reduce the frequency that a member can provide feedback for this very reason and we think it is a bad idea. The first sign that it is a bad idea is the Tom CHOSE to provide feedback. Meaning that the customer was given the option to provide feedback and took it. Should you remove that opportunity? Tom has also provided some very important Perception Metrics in his response that every department can use to manage the member experience. Should we discount those because we already know that Tom doesn’t like the locker rooms?
Suppose the only feedback system you had was a suggestion box. You get repeat complaints in that box. Should you remove the box? Just because you don’t want to hear doesn’t mean the problem isn’t there.
Back to Tom – “Hi Tom, thank for your continued feed back. We do need to have our reminders about the locker rooms and although I can’t promise when we will redo them, we will redo them. In the meantime we will do everything we can to make you experience here a great one!”
What if the issue is on parking and Tom has already given you feedback 3 other times stating – “You need to do something about the parking.”
“Hi Tom, the parking is the worst during the hours of 5-7 PM. We shifted some classes further apart to allow for people to exit before others come in. We are stuck with the parking we have and will do our best to manage it. We would love some suggestions!”
Or maybe – “Hi Tom, I know the parking is a big issue especially certain times of day and we are stuck with what we have. I promise we will work our butts off to make everything else such a great experience that the parking issue will seem small!”
Remember, the more frequently you hear from that member the more opportunities you have to engage with them. It isn’t about your experience. It is about the member experience. And guess what? The member experience directly impacts revenue.
There are two things to consider, survey response volume and survey response rate and before we go straight into how to increase your response rate, let’s consider whether you need to or not.
In a business to consumer (B2C) environment it is important to consider both response volume as well as response rates. In the fitness industry even the lowest response rates are materially higher than most other retail businesses. The difference is the nature of the relationship. In other retail environments one seeks feedback regarding the transaction. At your health club, the member experience stems from their interactions with our daily operations over repeated visits. This is the relationship we are trying to understand as opposed to a single transaction. This relationship tends to lend itself to higher response rates. The average response rate across all fitness is 21%.
You also need to consider the response volume. It is recommended that you “close the loop” with every member providing feedback within 24 hours. Providing really great responses can be challenging if response volume is high. Part of improving the member experience is to engage with them in a meaningful way. This is the purpose of the closed-loop-feedback process. Too many responses in a day will make this a harder thing to do.
A truly operational customer experience management system (OCEM) should be utilizing all best practices for improving response rates before you have to ask. This includes a concise subject line, being upfront about the amount of time it will take, personable invitation, elegant survey design, not too many open boxes, smart question design and a frequency that makes sense for fitness (every 90 days).
Let’s suppose your response volume is low or pretty manageable and you want to increase your survey response rates. How do we do that without influencing the data? We have learned some great tactics from our own customers.
Place well-designed poster boards on easels showing logos from highly recognized and loved brands that use customer feedback. Include your own logo. Have the heading read: “What do all the great companies have in common?” “We all depend on your candid feedback to get better every single day.” “Look for an email with the subject line ‘Member Survey – 3 minutes’ and please give us your feedback.”
If you do a member newsletter, include reminders asking for candid feedback.
When a membership is sold, be sure that new members are told about the email they will receive asking them to provide feedback.
If you have paper-feedback (i.e. suggestion box) include some signage that reminds members of the email they will receive.
In each of these instances it is important to just create awareness for the survey itself, not the scoring of the survey. Coaching a customer on how to score is all it takes for the customer to feel a genuine interaction turn into nothing more than a transaction. Here is an example from my own experience.
One day in Palo Alto I needed to call on my AAA account to have my car towed to the shop. The tow truck arrived faster than promised and the friendly driver defined helpfulness. When we were all done he handed me a card and said “Will you please go online and score me all 5’s?” That sort of killed it for me. Had he said “If you feel like providing feedback, here is a website and we are only looking for your candid opinion.” I would have felt a lot better about the interaction and would have gone to the site and given feedback. In the former statement it was all about him. In the latter it was all about me.
Create awareness to increase response rates. But always be careful not to influence the response itself. Doing so lets the customer know you are more concerned with your score than their experience.
The race to deliver a great customer experience is on and you are in it – whether you like it or not. CEM software is the vehicle you will be driving if you are to compete in this race. Your vehicle must be quick out of the gate and ready to go for a long time.
Selecting software for something that is new to you can be confusing and all software has features that may look incredible if you have never seen them before. If the first car you ever saw was a 1958 Ford Edsel, you would still think it was incredible.In this article I hope to accelerate your learning so you may benefit from those that have gone before you. There are hundreds of world-class companies that have learned lessons on your behalf. We want you to take advantage of what we have learned in the last 11 years of being CEM practitioners!
1. Head Room
The fitness business is more complex than other transaction-focused retail environments. Understanding the fitness business is critical to designing a system that aligns with the member’s journey and will support your own growth and learning. What you understand about Operational Customer Experience Management (OCEM) when you begin will pale in comparison to what you will understand few months and years into your program. Outgrowing the software quickly will be frustrating and will have your team just trying to figure out how to get higher scores instead of how to improve the member experience. That is a bad place to end up.
If it isn’t easy to use and doesn’t have “slap you in the face” analytics and reporting, it won’t be engaging. When you are trying to “operationalize” your member feedback system, the software better be helpful, effective, and grab the attention of the people that are running at 100 miles per hour every day. Having great mobile apps, crystal clear dashboards and fast workflows is critical.
3. “1st Degree” Accountability
We love Net Promoter Score. We love the alignment it creates in any size company. But in operations it is only provides “3rd Degree” accountability. If I am a front desk staff member and you tell me our NPS is trending downward (or upward for that matter), my feeling of responsibility to that outcome is 3 degrees of separation away. If you tell me our average Staff Friendliness score is trending down I will now be feeling a little more exposed. But tell me that the Front Desk Staff Friendliness score is trending down and NOW I get it. That is “1st Degree” Accountability. You need to capture the member journey in a set of METRICS that can measure the touch points that matter.
4. Dynamic Reporting
The industry tends to think of this as “real time” reporting. And it is. But Dynamic Reporting isn’t only real time; it is instantly informative. I could have real time reporting that shows up as a spreadsheet or a table and give everyone in the huddle or meeting brain damage trying to figure out what thevreport says. When we think of Live Reporting it is real time, instantly informative, useful for decision making at any level of the organization, and an accurate representation of the member experience.
5. Member Segmentation
Segmentation allows you to get a deep understanding of your members’ experience. Being able to segment by age, gender, different experience categories, members that bring guests, members that do not bring guests etc. can create clarity out of chaos. What happens when you can identify hundreds of members at a single location who love the equipment, love the staff, plan on staying a long time, and have had great fitness results? You can specifically target them in a referral campaign. Member segmentation is critical for understanding issues but it is
also an immediate driver of new business.
6. Root Cause Analysis
When you have the tools to get this right, you are able to annihilate an entire species of complaint. We so often see companies not digging deep enough. They keep solving a symptom of a problem over and over and over for individual members. Getting to the root cause of a problem allows you to solve a much bigger problem ONCE and have it affect all members. This is the big lever bar for improving member experience!
When selecting software you need to choose a system that is MORE than you need when you start. You and your team will quickly become more and more sophisticated in your CEM disciplines and that will require your software to accept that growth. Once you have selected your software it is time to develop your rollout strategy. Remember that customer experience management is a marathon not a sprint.
Do you have any comments? Please share with us.
“Gentlemen we will chase perfection and we shall chase it relentlessly knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way we will catch excellence.” —Vince Lombardi
Lombardi’s quote is the essence of Operational Customer Experience Management (OCEM). If you seek excellence you are chasing perfection. If you only chase excellence you might get to the upper end of mediocre. If you want differentiation – then be different. Chase perfection.
“The race is on and the tools and knowhow are there for you to be a frontrunner. One just has to have the courage and the relentlessness to differentiate.”
I am lucky enough to be at the intersection of OCEM and customer loyalty obsessed health club operators. At Club Works our mission is To Incite a Movement In The Fitness Industry. This movement is a group of like-minded club operators armed with the technology and the shared learning to create loyal lifelong fans of their customers. We see a world where the “believers” greatly differentiate themselves from the rest of the industry. They will share more information, see more trends and have far greater insights into how the customer thinks and feels. They all will have made excellence a HABIT and continue to chase perfection.
What are your organizations current habits? Well, it is called “operations.” “Operations” in an organization is the moral equivalent of an individual’s habits.
Bob gets up at 6:00 AM every workday. He showers, has a piece of toast and coffee and goes out the door at 7:00. He arrives to work a little early and falls into a routine including email, breaks, lunch and leaving for home. Once home the habits continue. Catch up on the day. Play with kids. Glass of wine. News. Dinner. TV. Bed. That is Bob’s daily “operations.” Want to change those operations? Not so easy. These habits are pretty ingrained. This is Bob’s “operations.”
Your company has existing habits. Just measuring the customer experience and closing the loop with each customer won’t change your operations. You need to change your company’s habits. Medallia’s OCEM Framework is a great model companies can use to change their habits to improve customer loyalty.
The framework has 4 main segments:
See yourself as the customer sees you
Wire customer feedback into every decision
Drive accountability throughout the organization
Test new ideas to see what you can scale
I see a threshold that needs to be overcome for most health club operators – large or small. As companies get started with a great OCEM system (MXM/Medallia), they are usually surprised by how powerful the feedback can be. They begin their closed loop process and find individual issues to resolve. Great. Time to move past the first stage.
See how many of these questions you can answer “yes” to.
Do you make sure that all member feedback gets a response?
Does this happen within 24-48 hours?
Is there more than 1 person at a location responsible?
Are responses relevant and thoughtful (i.e. not just sending templates)?
Does each and every staff meeting (whether GMs or departmental) start with a report on the customer experience and some comments from members?
Does every team KNOW the score for the touch points they own and how they rank with other touch points?
Are those scores constantly communicated (at least weekly)?
When making decisions, whether they are tactical or strategic, do you use the customer viewpoint to inform those decisions?
Do you constantly redesign business processes and policies with the purpose of improving the member experience?
Do you know which touch points matter the most to your members?
As companies become more and more operational with their customer feedback we observe the activities that add the most value, like using feedback to inform all decisions and redesigning policies and processes, don’t take any more time than companies are already spending. They already make decisions on tactical and strategic levels. Using the customer data will just better inform those decisions. They already redesign policies and processes – just not with the thought of making them a great experience for the customer.
So many clubs have made Customer Experience Management a hobby. Operational Customer Experience Management is the domain of pros. Time to move to the next level.
How are you making excellence a habit at your organization? Please share with us!
There are thousands of ways to start a gym member referral program these days. Most referral programs offer an incentive of a free months of membership to your referring member. But, why not give out cash instead? If you own a gym, and you don’t currently run a ‘refer a friend’ type of program, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to increase membership and build community in your gym. Referral programs have been around forever, yet some businesses still aren’t using them to their full advantage. Referral programs are a simple and cost effective way to get more people walking into your business.
Here are some basic facts: friends like to work out with each other, friends like to tell friends about good deals, and people like to get rewards and “points” for doing stuff. These three reasons alone should be enough encourage for you to start a member referral program at your gym. Once you’ve decided that starting a refer a friend program would be a good marketing strategy for your business, it’s time to work out the details!
1. What Promotion Will You Offer
You need to decide what promotion will be worthwhile to offer for a referral. A refer-a-friend gym promotion only works if the promotion is good for the new member and the benefit is great for the referrer. Most gyms give out a free week pass for the new member. That work, but you might want to go with something a little more valuable for your referral deal. Maybe a 50% discount on a month of service, or 6 months for the price of 3. Make it a worthwhile promotion so that the person really sees the benefit of taking advantage of the deal. Let’s be honest, there’s nothing worse than winning some type of contest and getting a horrible prize as a result. The same mentality goes for your fitness center’s referral bonus. If you are not willing to give your current members some quality prizes and incentives, why should they care about referring friends to your business?
2. Reward for the Referring Member
Make sure that the reward for your current members referring friends will be worth it. There are many ideas behind what makes a good referral deal. We personally think that giving out cash per referral makes the most sense. People like money, and they’ll work hard to get it. If you’re giving out a free membership, you’re going to attract some people to your referral program, but you’ll refer a lot more if you give out cash for the referral. However, there is still the old reliable “Free Month with Every Referral.” Either way, if you’re charging $150 a month for membership, and you’re giving your current members a $10 discount per referral, don’t even bother! Why would a member bother telling their friends if it isn’t worth their time? However, if you were to give away one free month for every referral that becomes a paying member, now we’re talking! You won’t even lose any money as a result. The new member will be paying the membership that the referring member would have paid, and then in month 2, you’re getting BOTH members paying membership. This is a win-win!
3. Marketing Materials for the Member Referral Program
Once you have established a good deal for the new gym member, as well as a worthwhile reward for the member that did the referring, it is then time to market and promote your deal. Pay someone to make you a nice marketing banner and referral cards! Make your banner self-explanatory….”Tell your friends about our gym and get a free month of class!” The referral cards should have your business info, as well as an area for the referring member to write their name so that they can get the reward should someone present the card when signing up for the gym. There seems to be a common misconception that print is dead; it isn’t. It’s more popular than ever in all actuality. So get out there, print some flyers, and get them up around your business!
4. Use the Power of Social Media
Social media have amazing uses. Use your social media pages to spread the word about a referral program. If you’re offering 1-free month of gym usage, you might get a guy who goes out and finds you 12 new members. He’s going to get a year of free gym membership, but you’re going to get full-price memberships from 12 new members. Now that is a pretty good tradeoff. Plus, if that guy is out their talking about your gym, you’re getting added publicity as well. So, make it a point to let EVERYONE know that you’re starting a referral program and that, if they really work hard, they can get free gym for a year, etc.
5. Promote Your Referral Program to Current Members
While you’re promoting the referral program on your social media, make sure you let all your current members know about the promotion. Give each of them 5-10 of the referral cards that you had printed up. They can give these to friends, coworkers, relatives, whoever. As long as someone comes in with that card, the referring member will get credit. Have a stack of referral cards at the front desk as well, so that people can grab a few on their way home from tonight’s workout. You’ll be surprised as how many cards you go through when you have a worthwhile deal for your referring members (free month of gym use per member referred or something similar).
6. Make Good on Your Deal and PAY for Referrals
Don’t forget to hold up your end of the bargain and start giving out that cash. You can call it a “Free Month of Membership” but make sure you’re paying out in hard currency. Not some flimsy little piece of paper. Make a show of it and give the member a month’s membership worth of cash after the workout of the day. They’ll be able to walk home with a fat stack of dollar bills in their pocket, and the other members will see that you’re actually true about the referral program; paying out hard-earned cash for every referred member. Once members start seeing you give wads of cash to members for referring their friends, you better believe other members will start telling all their friends and coworkers about your gym.
7. Inspire Your Members to Spread the Word
The best possible scenario you will have for your gym referral program is that you have lots and lots of members bringing in lots and lots of referrals. That’s where the benefit of giving out cash instead of membership months makes the difference. If someone gets a free month of membership for every referral, it might not be worth the effort. However, if you’re giving out cash, someone could potentially make a couple extra hundred bucks per month just by becoming your salesperson. If you give out $50 for every referral that comes in your door, and someone gets 10 referrals a month, that’s $500. That’s a nice chunk of change for them to put towards their monthly espenses and bills!
It doesn’t take much effort to start a referral program, but it sure is a worthwhile gym marketing strategy. Figure out some referral program ideas for your gym, create the referral forms, and you’re good to go!
Other fitness clubs can copy your successes, such as your facility, machines or prices. What they can’t copy is your relationship with your members. The best way to provide great customer service in your health club is to keep those relationships strong and meaningful.
In a world with social media, online reviews and instant information from the internet, customers are beginning to expect that they get to interact more closely with businesses they frequent. They want to be able to give feedback, and know that their feedback is important to the business, and that it will make an impact.
In today’s world, health club members want more than a place to work out. In addition, a great customer experience at the fitness club also means strong relationships with the club’s owners and staff. One way to do this is through a customer experience platform, or a system that helps you, the fitness club owner, gather feedback from customers in one place. Customer management software, like those provided by MXM, not only gather feedback from customers, but also provides insights and information in an easy-to-understand way. This creates a customer-centric culture in your health club, truly putting the customer first.
Once you have the information from your customer management software, it’s easy to take action. Health clubs that use software like MXM’s are able to identify “at risk” members and improve their experience to change them to satisfied customers.
All of this keeps members longer, increases their spending and makes them more likely to recommend your fitness club (which adds more members in the long run!)
Are you still curious about MXM software? Contact our team today for more information, or to get started.