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  • drsuzbaxter

Customer Service

One of the most important things to recognize when we work in the fitness industry is that we are actually working in customer service, (as well as all the other multitude of roles that we're working in). Within this, it's very hard to be able to conceptualize that we have to wear many individual hats. When I'm saying this, even as a head coach thinking about how you interact with new people as they come into the gym, can be really quite confronting, but can ultimately determine the success of people on a new membership or a trial.

Picture this, someone reaches out to you to ask you how things run in your fitness business and whether they can join along the session and who is aimed at. If you are answering back in jargon, yes, you're going to impress somebody who has an exercise science background, but the grand majority of the people that you're going to be interacting with are within the general population and they're gonna have no idea what you're talking about, and also feel quite alienated. So it's worth working out: Are you trying to impress yourself by using big long words? Or do you want to encourage people to come along and try out your gym to understand the complexity of your programming by being there.

One area where this can be significantly important is even the term general population. There's not many people who are from the general population that actually understand what the term general population relates to, what it means or why they would use it in a sentence. So if you're talking to someone that's from the general population, and you're saying most people from gen pop need to be stretching more, they actually don't understand the “Gen pop” term. They don't understand why you're talking to them as if you're like a parent talking to another parent on your behalf.

Potentially, a good way to reframe how we're talking, is to think about what you'd like to say, but then also how you'd like the other person to pick up what you're saying. We have got to be really mindful of who the audience is, and what they want to hear, but also understand the sort of things that they might be looking for in a fitness facility. So this might be weight loss, even though that might not be an area that you really want to advertise that you're big on. Losing weight might not be one of your key targets at the gym. But the fact is if someone is less active and they become more active, they're going to lose weight. They literally are going to lose weight. And are you trying to tell them that you're against them losing weight, or you're actually not? It's just not one of the main goals of working out with you if that's something that's not a big part of your programming. So thinking about what it is that you want people to know and understand when you're talking to them. The majority of the population is looking for weight loss, and that's not such a bad thing because we're literally either encouraging or discouraging members of the general population to come and workout with us.

We found another form of elitism within the fitness industry. It’s telling people that losing weight isn’t allowed anymore? C’mon. Does it matter if losing weight got them in the door and then the community and all the other stuff made them stay? Or are you going to turn around and tell them they are not allowed to lose weight in your gym (because that is what they are hearing!)

Furthermore, being very open and open minded when we are talking to a new member. So oftentimes when we're looking at our new members, and they're asking us questions, they might not even know what the loading of the language that they're using. So potentially, you are not a CrossFit gym, but you look hardcore. So to the general population, they might be saying to you are quite hardcore, are you CrossFit, not knowing what CrossFit means, not knowing that for some people, they don't want to be known as looking like a CrossFit gym and that sort of thing. So try not to get triggered when someone accidentally uses the wrong language because they're not actually an expert in the area. You're the expert in the area. Look at how we can best welcome them into the gym.

One of the greatest sources of inspiration for new clients are your current clientele. Are your current clientele friendly? Have you taken the time to make a conversation starter and say this is blah, blah, blah. They've worked here for this amount of time, and then maybe give one really awesome fact about that person that shows their dedication to your work now, but also that they've managed to achieve. So has this person been working towards their 50th birthday and they now are stronger, fitter and healthier than they have been in the last 20 to 30 years, and now they're pretty much going to become a personal trainer themselves. Also one of the best ways we can ensure that participants are very welcoming is if the new participant, besides introducing them, is role modeling the style of welcoming that we expect to see from the participants to another participant. We can do this by teaching our current participants, what way we greet someone new, and helping them learn over time. This may be about creating that culture for your gym or studio so that it's known to be a very safe space. Also, the standard of welcome is already well defined for the person so that people in the gym feel comfortable with the level of welcoming that you anticipate.

Over time, then, because of this level of welcoming, it can be passed on to new members, because the new members are welcomed like that, and therefore, the culture continues, but I have to say the number of times I've been into a class that's brand new, like the coaches said, what my name is, or maybe not even said. Then for the entirety of the class, everybody talks to their friends and then you are the only one that's by yourself. You don't know where any of the clips are for the gym. There's not even that opportunity to ask other people because they're too busy, like entrenched in conversation. It doesn’t depend on the size of your classes. You know, making that culture of people looking out for each other, especially if you look at some of our previous blog posts about suggestions of having advanced lifting days where you're teaching things like how to set up in a particular way for particular exercises and how to incrementally increase load then you've got another set of eyes from within the class and people quite enjoy feeling that extra responsibility because they know a little bit extra.

Worse still, you get introduced by the coach, but you pretty much get ignored by the coach for the entirety of the session. While they like to ask you one or two questions, and then they go off to talk to some of their friends, and you sort of left to your own devices. Then just before the end of the class, there's pretty much a sale that is trying to be attempted just right at the end of the class. So it's not a very smooth sales technique, because the person has been left to feel quite isolated for the entirety of their experience with you. Check out some of our other blog posts where we talk about creating an experience because 95% of clients over time will choose good programming over great programming, when it's experience is the determining factor.

So when customer experience and excitement and enjoyment is 100% and maybe the programming is like 60 or 70%, they will choose the one that's got the greater experience than the one that's maybe more technically correct, but is maybe a 60% experience, because they will pay extra even for the level of experience and that really comes down to feeling welcome not feeling isolated. It can be down to music selection, or even just feeling part of the vibe and really getting the sense of who you are as a brand. Your Niche, your style, even your language and your voice, these are all things that people can pick up really attunely, and astutely these days.

Stay tuned for part 2, but until then, did you feel called out? Let me know!

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