A new Equinox recently opened up near the SessionM headquarters and I, as well as a couple colleagues joined. The facilities are amazing; the classes are excellent; and the staff is friendly. (Don’t worry this is not a gym review.) While there’s a lot to like about Equinox, this brand is struggling to provide a sophisticated, frictionless member experience. Buckle up--it’s time for another customer engagement gone wrong story, and it’s not pretty.

Let’s talk about the in-gym experience first. The women’s locker room illustrates how well Equinox understands their member base and anticipates their needs in order to ensure every visit is a pleasure. Equinox has checked all the perfunctory gym locker room boxes -- clean, lots of lockers, lots of showers, fresh towels and mirrors. But it’s the little touches that set Equinox’s in-gym experience apart. For example: the last thing you want to do after a grueling workout is throw your sweat-soaked clothes directly in your bag. Equinox provides rolls of plastic bags for you to put them in.

Here are a few other examples of how Equinox anticipates their clients’ locker room needs. If you’re someone who gets ready at the gym before or after work, you understand it requires a lot of schlepping. You’ve got to pack your change of clothes plus any makeup or other lotions, potions or creams you favor. While Equinox can’t do much for you if you forget to pack a clean pair of pants, you needn’t worry about bringing body lotion, facial moisturizer, razors, etc.; the locker has them all! Not only having these essentials in stock, but also high quality versions of them demonstrates how well Equinox understands their members’ lifestyle and preferences.

Unfortunately, Equinox’s digital channels don’t quite measure up to the fantastic physical experience.

As soon as I was an official gym member, I downloaded the Equinox app. There are a lot of helpful features in the app. For example: it contains a unique barcode that I scan to check-in.

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The app also enables me to book classes, view how many people are on the waitlist for classes, view how many times I’ve checked into the gym in a given week, set a weekly check-in goal and more.

Besides the features I described, the app also leverages AI through chat. AI is the future--according to a survey conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit, 75% of executives say AI will be “actively implemented” in companies within the next three years. However popular, AI is only effective when it’s seamless and enhances the customer experience. Equinox is missing this mark on both fronts. Here’s an example of why: my colleague Ann and I were going to do a yoga class together. Ann had booked the class in the app. The night before she stayed out a little too late and indulged in a few too many cocktails. What Ann needed was the hair of the dog, not downward dog.  She cancelled her class reservation and promptly received a confirmation email (see below).

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However, later that day the chatbot wrote to her to ask how the class went.

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Confusing because not only does Ann know that she did not attend the yoga class, but also Equinox demonstrated that they know Ann cancelled the yoga class.

Seems like this customer engagement mishap might have been caused by data silos and bottlenecks across the different systems Equinox is using to engage with customers. The reservation system is connected to the email system, but there might be a disconnect in the data reaching the chat feature. This kind of data latency plagues many marketers (and is often the reason brands seek the help of SessionM).

The rogue chatbot wasn’t Equinox’s only customer engagement gone wrong moment. A week or so into my membership at the Seaport Equinox, they sent me an email. I was excited because I thought it might contain a special new member offer or perk, but no. To my disappointment, the email was an announcement that the new location is now open.

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Well, duh! Of course I know the new location is open. Don’t you know who I am!? Ugh!

Jokes aside, this interaction makes me think that Equinox might not have the ability to segment their database by properties such as members vs. non-members. That’s a big problem because recognizing customers for their business and providing a personalized experience is a non-negotiable customer expectation.

Achieving a seamless customer experience is no easy feat. I realize that the issues I’ve pointed out can’t be fixed with the wave of a magic wand. I also realize that Equinox is probably well aware of the aforementioned problems and might even be trying to find solutions at this very moment. So, Equinox--if that’s the case (and you happen to be reading this!) just know that SessionM can help 😊

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