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Five Easy and Effective Rules for Great Service

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Countless studies show that service is the most defining characteristic in the perception of a retail company yet, despite its importance, too many fitness facilities are failing to make a good impression. With members visiting on a regular basis you have thousands of opportunities every week to show what kind of service business you run. Are you giving your members great and meaningful service so that they know you appreciate their patronage, or are you passive and dismissive to your members, telling a story that compares you unfavorably against your competitors?

Great service gives your club a powerful and memorable quality. It is one of the most important characteristics that leads to increased member retention and best of all, IT’S FREE! Master these five simple rules and have your members view you as a service-oriented club.

1. A meaningful “Hello” and “Goodbye”
It is disappointing how often this rule is avoided even though it is the easiest, as well as the most important, rule of customer service in a health club. A sincere “Hello” spoken to each person with eye contact, a smile and using their name is direct interaction and a personal connection between your business and your customer. As your member checks in, use the opportunity to show sincere interest and friendliness followed by “Have a great workout.” As each member leaves they should be recognized with a “Goodbye” or “Have a great day” to ensure one more last positive interaction with your club.

2.  Actively address problems
Health clubs are unique from other retail businesses because your customers become a part of the community and identity of your club. Therefore, you absolutely must take an active role in finding issues that may cause disruption to this community or give a disparaging opinion to those within it. Formally or informally survey your members and ex-members looking for negative trends or opportunities for improvement. Seek member feedback and always be available for member complaints.

3.  Listen to your members
When your members are telling you their problems, take the time to really listen to them in an effort to improve the situation. So often a customer service issue gets worse in the eyes of an angry member because the employee is too quick to respond or give explanations, and the member feels that they are not being listened to, thus making them even more angry. Often when a member is sharing with you their problem they need to release their frustration as much as they desire a remedy. Do not deprive them of this opportunity by cutting them off. Move to a quiet spot and give them your full attention. Look them in the eyes and, if necessary, take notes. But most importantly let them talk!

4.  Be honest
While you always prefer to give your members good news, sometimes your situation is going to result in your customer needing to be told something that they don’t want to hear. Be forthright and tell them the truth. You need to trust that you have used your efforts and best judgment to better the issue, but if your situation still results in “bad news” you need to tell them the truth. It will only make it worse if your customer feels that you are being elusive, dishonest, or simply weak in your position.

5.  Deliver upon your promisesThis rule is a two-parter: “Don’t make promises that you can’t keep,” but also “Keep your promises.” Nothing destroys the trust and loyalty of a customer faster than when a staff member, anywhere from the Desk Attendant up to the CEO, makes a promise that is unfulfilled. Your customer gives you money and calls themselves a “member” of your club, both of which will be given serious consideration if they feel that you are undeserving of their trust.

Good service is the key to member retention and the most important element in the perception of your business. Consistently deliver upon these five, no-cost service rules and you will see an improved perception of your club, increased member retention and increased profits.

John Oei is an operations and strategy consultant and columnist for Club Solutions Magazine. He can be reached through our editor via e-mail at tyler@clubsolutionsmagazine.com.

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