Tips for measuring and improving member experience.
Member experience is how people engage with your brand and how that engagement shapes their view of it. This perception can be influenced by many factors that impact the feelings your members have toward your brand like cleanliness, reliable equipment, friendly front desk workers and so much more.
There are various avenues you can persue to ensure you are giving your members the best possible experience.
Marco Fiorini, the general manager of the Cincinnati Sports Club, said a great place to start is by understanding your facility’s demographic.
“Know the members you serve — singles, couples, families, etc. — their ages as well as the local area demographics, and offer a variety of programs for each market group” said Fiorini. “We offer convenient facilities, programs, services, and amenities for the wellness, social and medical needs of the membership to serve the whole person — keeping them active, connected and engaged.”
A great way to gauge member experience in your facility is from direct member feedback.
“Keep channels open for receiving member feedback,” explained Fiorini. “The Cincinnati Sports Club offers kiosks throughout the building, easy connections through the website and an email address that is monitored daily where members can share their feedback.”
Catherine Porter, the executive director of Carle Health & Fitness Center, agreed that feedback from your members is crucial.
“Member feedback is a gift and essential for the growth of your business,” said Porter. “It may seem difficult and stressful, but a vocal member or customer is giving you the chance to improve your member experience and business. If one member complains about something, there are many more members who feel the same way but will not say anything or worse, may just cancel their membership instead of asking you to address their issue. Tools used to track member experience include comment cards, web forms on your website, member satisfaction surveys and retention strategies that include regular check-ins from staff.”
There are various technologies you can implement at your facility to help track member experiences and feedback. Cincinnati Sports Club uses Medallia for 90-day surveys, on-site kiosks, annual surveys of members and Keepme — an AI platform with predictive modeling for those likely to cancel — for targeted marketing to assist with retention.
In addition to utilizing technology, the best way to ensure members have a great experience at your facility is to prevent bad ones from happening. One way to do this is by staying consistent.
“Be consistent when enforcing policies and rules,” explained Fiorini. “Members understand and support them for the most part as long as they apply to everyone. Do not make exceptions if possible. This communicates to members what is and isn’t acceptable, and empowers staff to enforce rules if they know management is backing them up.”
Fiorini also recommended overcommunicating with staff. In addition, having ongoing and frequent customer service training for staff is important. At the Cincinnati Sports Club, they’ve started scheduling training meetings to run concurrent with staff shifts so employees don’t have to be frequently checking the meeting schedule.
Porter echoed the importance of staff training, explaining it is the baseline of your operations — and in return your member experience.
“Your team matters and is critical for this mission,” explained Porter. “Hire for culture fit and train for the job. Employees will be delivering the member experience, so pick the best and train them well. Next, work on assembling a comprehensive team within your organization to build your member experience plan. Everyone will play a part in delivering great service so get their buy-in by including them in the building of the plan.”
Once your team is created, Porter said you need to clarify the vision of your initiative.
Ask yourself, “What does a great member experience look and feel like when you are done?” She explained elements of the initiative should include consideration of each department’s uniqueness and role but have strong threads of consistency. “For example, greeting members enthusiastically and intentionally using their name at your front desk will sound different than when greeting them before a massage service,” she said. “When the member’s name is used in both interactions, you have provided an appropriate and consistent experience across two departments.”
Once your vision is established you can then dig in and determine how you are going to operationalize it. Porter elaborated a vision is what you do. Creating an operational plan is necessary for your employees to know how to deliver your vision and, in this case, a great member experience.
“Determine your non-negotiable standards, which are behaviors that are critical to the vision and, frankly, required for employment,” said Porter. “Roles and responsibilities should be shared with the team, and training with some fun role playing gets everyone prepared for the show. Be sure to measure your progress and adjust as necessary. Consider each service mishap as an opportunity to learn and improve your plan.”
Being able to adjust and improve was a lesson many operators have learned the past two years navigating the COVID-19 pandemic — an event that has altered member expectations dramatically.
After not being able to work out indoors for months in some parts of the country, people have grown accustomed to outdoor workouts. To cater to this demand and make members happy, Fiorini said they added turf, four pickleball courts and one large tent to their outdoor pool area during the pandemic.
“We are also looking at technologies to allow access to these outdoor venues year round, not just with staff supervision,” explained Fiorini. “We’ve recently repurposed an indoor soccer field into a multipurpose court with basketball, pickleball, volleyball, badminton and futsal. The club is not afraid to make challenging decisions and repurpose space to meet the changing needs of the membership and marketplace.”
There are various factors that can impact your member experience and many things you can put in place to keep your members happy and coming back. From knowing the community you serve to staff training and even your program offerings, improving the member experience at your facility is ever-evolving and should always be priority No. 1.