Businesses work hard to build a strong reputation. The same effort should be put into maintaining it! Below are five areas to consider on the path to customer service excellence.

Have a plan

Think through how to deal with the business’s most common issues. While it’s not smart to make a habit of merely quoting policy to a member, a framework of policy is needed to serve as a guide for decision-making. It creates an environment of consistency, and consistency is easier to scale and replicate, thus enabling a business to grow. Carefully consider each policy to ensure it makes sense for the model and isn’t simply the fitness industry norm.

Clearly-worded membership agreements

While most states mandate specific language and guidelines for fitness contracts, it’s not a requirement to word agreements in foggy legalese. Simplify the terms. Strip down the superfluous text. Make it easier for members to understand.

Have a system

A sure-fire way to botch the handling of a member’s account is poor communication. What was discussed? When? With whom? The system being used should be simple (or it won’t be used) and ideally, should allow for follow-up and interaction directly within the system. When it comes to account changes, clearly notating a member’s profile is a key first step to ensuring that what was promised, is delivered. Member history should be accessible to all necessary staff members.

What is measured, is improved

One of the biggest mistakes owners make is simply not knowing the volume or causes of member issues in their clubs. How is anything improved without knowledge of what is wrong? A good analysis starts with identifying what should be measured. What is important for the business? What is the retention goal? How many cancellations are there each month? What is causing them? Are members able to easily make contact and get a resolution to their issues in an acceptable timeframe? What is an acceptable resolution time? Targets should be established, an information collection protocol developed, and reporting templates produced. From there, institute a consistent schedule to review, analyze and improve.

Look in the mirror first

Finally, always hold the business’s facilities, team and services up to the light first, before addressing a member’s concern. Have promises been delivered? Is the business being fair? Sometimes members’ reasons for leaving are very valid. It’s easy to employ a strict letter-of-the-contract approach to how to deal with these concerns, but that approach is far less likely to have positive effect long-term. Listen to complaints focused on resolution and improvement. The value that exists in a lost member is learning how to prevent it from becoming lost members.