Perception is reality. We have all heard that before, right? The concept of “perception” is fascinating to me. It does not matter if it’s true or false, fake or real. It’s the member’s perception of the situation that matters, as it’s their reality, or moment of truth.
Sometimes it is easy to rationalize with the member to get to the root cause of their perception. Take the complaint, “You guys are always out of towels” as an example. We all know we are not always out; however, we can understand the frustration of the member when they experience a time the club did not have towels. We can understand the perception because it happened to them at least once.
Sadly, we don’t always get to explain our side of the situation. It gets harder when we can’t relate to the member or flat out don’t believe any part of their perception. This can erode a relationship with a member and negatively impact club retention.
Creating clarity can help in these situations. Here are a few questions you can ask your members when you are faced with a perception you can’t relate to or believe.
Tell me more about your experience.
How would you have liked to see it handled?
Apologize that we gave them that perception.
Offer feedback that could help the member understand what contributed to the situation, without being defensive of their experience.
Reassure you will address the concern and make adjustments so they won’t feel that way moving forward.
Changing a negative perception about your team or club can be difficult. When you learn to hear the feedback and make adjustments, you have an opportunity to build loyalty with your members. The member is not always right, but they are still the member. Even when you don’t agree with their perception, handle their concern with a level of interest that shows you care about their experience.
Andrew Barranco is the regional operations and aquatics manager for Merritt Clubs.