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customer service

At Gainesville Health and Fitness (GHF) in Gainesville, Florida, customer service is in the company’s DNA. From the get-go, founder Joe Cirulli has strived to create a culture at the gym’s three locations that goes above and beyond to not only attain, but retain members and staff.

Customer service is everything about our culture,” said Cirulli. “Every department has a mission and set of objectives to determine the things they need to do to both gain and —  just as important — to retain our membership. And we also recognize those staff members in a very formal way who live those objectives.”

This culture of customer service is cultivated in a number of ways. But it starts with the hiring process. As Cirulli explained, GHF strives to find people who are customer service-oriented at heart.

“We have a hiring process that helps us find people who have customer service in their DNA,” said Cirulli. “They learn about the role of each department to better understand how the entire company functions. This is to help them understand how critical all of us working together is.”

After landing a role at GHF, staff then receive training that further emphasizes customer service. “Training is extensive in all facets of the skills required, but also what customer service means,” continued Cirulli. “We also have experienced staff shadowing new employees to let them see good customer service in action.”

Employees who exhibit exceptional customer service are recognized by GHF’s Eagle Program, where members can highlight employees who have gone above and beyond in serving the membership. Each month, the company receives hundreds of comments, and each employee that received a nomination is taken out to dinner.

“We read the comments aloud for each and every one of them,” said Cirulli. “It gives everyone a chance to connect and see the kind of things they’re all doing to make our company exceptional.”

To further ensure a positive customer experience, GHF uses the survey software tool Medallia to contact members daily about their experience or simply to thank them.

If a member does report a bad experience, GHF staff address the member directly. “If it’s a valid complaint we’ll correct it immediately,” explained Cirulli. “If it’s an issue they don’t quite grasp, we’ll explain it to them. The important thing is we really connect with our members daily. And as the owner they can email, call or see me personally.”

In addition, it’s important to ensure you’re constantly evaluating and re-evaluating the customer experience, to ensure you’re meeting members’ needs. Recently, GHF underwent a massive renovation at one of its locations — the direct result of the brand striving to create a better experience for members.

Ultimately, Cirulli explained offering great customer service comes down to having staff that care — and that’s something that starts at the top.

“Great customer service is not about the members, it’s about creating a great staff who feel they’re cared about by the leadership,” said Cirulli. “It’s about connectivity with the entire organization. If we can create a great staff, we can create an atmosphere for great customer service. In addition, everyone on our team knows why we exist as a company and we work on accomplishing our reason for existing every day.”

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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