In a perfect world, automation saves time, reduces costs, and creates a more consistent member experience with fewer human errors. Bills get paid on time, members show up for appointments, and the club enjoys steady growth.
In reality, automation produces mixed results. Why? Because automation is only as good as the processes and people behind it. Automating a faulty process can damage the member experience and retention rates. Over-reliance on automation can cause a breakdown in the relationship-building process, destroying the club’s chance at establishing long-term member loyalty.
To be successful, clubs must use a combination of personalized attention and carefully planned automation to keep members engaged and coming back for more.
Automation is a valuable tool, but technology is never a replacement for true human connection. Instead of trying to automate the entire member lifecycle, focus on using smart, targeted communications to fill gaps when it would be difficult for humans to respond as quickly or accurately. Good examples include automated invoices and email responses outside of business hours.
Use software to add depth to conversations, rather than have them for you. Reference member profiles and automated reports to get insight into your customers’ habits. Encourage staff to document members’ preferences, interests and feedback. Use these details to fine-tune your automated process by segmenting members based on their needs.
When addressing sensitive topics, personal outreach is a must. Commit to a human-to-human approach to address complaints, missing payments, safety and private matters. In these situations, automation appears cold and uncaring. Direct, personal contact is the best way to resolve disputes, avoid cancellations and repair relationships.
Going the extra mile to create a personalized experience can help clubs stand out from their competition and make a lasting impact on retention. Create opportunities for face-to-face interaction through special events, outings and appointments. Leverage online scheduling, booking and event registration tools to bring members and staff together in one place — rather than leaving critical elements of the member experience to automated emails and social media.
Clubs can also design their facilities to encourage a sense of community by designating areas for members to talk, sit and stretch together between workouts.
Personal attention shows members that your club is committed to helping them achieve their health and fitness goals. To drive long-term growth, focus on building lasting bonds with members through genuine human connections — both inside and outside your facility.