Closed Loop Feedback

CEM Products and Repeat Responders. Why Should I Listen to You Again?

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.

Increase the Survey Response Rate at Your Health Club

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.