Is Your Customer Service Repelling Members?

customer service

As a business owner, you’ve probably heard that you can no longer just “satisfy” clients and expect to keep them around. Nowadays, the competition is too intense, and frankly, consumer’s expectations continue to rise.

So, why are so many gym owners making the same old promises of “good community” and “great coaching”, and hoping that will draw new people in and keep them around?

If you own a gym, what you need to realize is that practically every gym owner makes these promises. Trouble is, no new member cares about either of these things.

They actually really only care about two things, especially early on in their journey with you: how they will look and feel, and the end result.

Think about it: You go into a Walmart and you have 50 different choices of soap. You don’t care about the specific brand’s features they tout, you just want the benefits of smelling good, not having dry skin and feeling clean. Or, you go online to order a new grill: There are a hundred to choose from and every one of them claim their own “differentiating” features, but what you really want is to make a mean steak and be able to impress your family and guests and feel like you are the grill master of the evening.

As consumers, we have high expectations because we want to see ourselves and be seen by others in a certain way, and if a product or business doesn’t meet those expectations, no problem, we’ll just go to the next guy or girl down the street to see if we can achieve the results we’ve played out in our heads.

If you’re going to justify charging hundreds of dollars a month for the right to use your equipment and work out with your Coaches, you’re going to need to do something more than making promises you hope will draw people in and keep them around.

Greg Daines, expert in customer service, said, “People don’t leave because they have a reason to leave. They leave because they no longer have a compelling reason to stay.”

If you help your new member actually reach their goals, now you’re giving them a reason to stay.

The hard truth is, your members don’t want your “product.” A key change you’ll need to embrace is not to focus on your programs but actually focus on the people you serve.

One of the most important things you can offer is your expertise. People won’t leave you if they are growing and changing because of your expertise.

You want to get to the point where you’ve connected with your members in such a way they can no longer imagine their own success without you being in the equation.

I recently read that a SOLUTION offers VALUE which enables SUCCESS which leads to RETENTION.

Often times we think if we provide a solution to the client’s problem – lose weight, get in shape, etc. – and that solution creates value, then the client will continue being a member – a.k.a. retention.

But, there are a few things missing in the equation above:

  • Behavior change: If there is no behavior change in the client, your solution and the value you offer provides little to no benefit.
  • Definition of value: You have to get crystal clear on what value they are actually wanting to get from your services. You may define value one way; they may define it a whole different way. You need to communicate early and often to get on the same page of what value looks like to them and what behaviors are needed to get that desired result.
  • People evolve: This means what they value today may be different than what they will value one year from now. Those who will stick around are the ones who are excited about what you are offering next.

So, what do you do? How do you offer a solution that changes lives and keeps them coming back?

A few ideas to consider:

  1. Make it stupid simple to come try your gym out. Go on your website and try to schedule an initial appointment with yourself. If you can’t do it in 10 seconds or less, make some changes to your site. If it’s too hard to join, they will look elsewhere. Keep the hurdle to come see you as low as possible.
  2. Ask them what they are trying to achieve – if you’re not doing goal sessions, start today. Even if you have 300 members, start with a few per week. These are nothing more than 20-minute check-ins to get to know your members. A good way to cover more ground is to share the load of these with your Coaches as you train them to be more invested in the success of your members.
  3. Be proactive in your support and expertise. You can do this a few ways:
    1. Make your phone number and email clearly visible on your website. It amazes me how many people still just have a “contact us” form. Have you ever actually filled one of those out?
    2. Eliminate the fear of not knowing the language by explaining early on – in your website, in your initial communications. etc. – all the common industry/gym/CrossFit terms and what they mean.
    3. Create content – videos, blogs, emails, etc. – that answers common questions/misunderstandings of health, fitness, nutrition, etc. You’re the expert; be the expert by providing your expertise.
  4. Respond quickly. They are reaching out to you because they are ready to make a change. They may have heard about you a year or two ago, but they are now finally ready. Get back to them before they have time to reach out to your competitor.
  5. Listen, listen, listen. If you are open to hearing it, your members will tell you what they want and need. Listen to them and seek to understand what they are saying. Don’t try to create programs you think they want, but listen to what they are asking for.

Providing exceptional customer service, the kind where people want to stick around, involves caring about each individual you come in contact with. Help them get the results they want, and they’ll be a client for life.

Julie Weldon
Julie Weldon is on the leadership team of 321GoProject. Her diverse background includes being a cake designer, coaching basketball, traveling to 13 different developing countries to do volunteer work on a year-long trip, working in the not-for-profit world for 10 years, starting two businesses, working as a People & Change consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers, taking a product to market (and “failing”, only to get back up and do it a second time), and working as a business coach/consultant to small businesses with her company, A Salty Rim. Her core belief is that it’s always about the people no matter if the company is large or small. Contact her at julie@321goproject.com.

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