The fitness industry has undergone a significant change over the past several years. The rise in popularity of programs such as Spinning, CrossFit and Barre have revolutionized the space. Different classes mixed with more adept technology have blended together to create a dramatically different customer experience. However, most fitness centers, health clubs and gyms struggle to recognize their individual members across touchpoints, and fail to provide them with relevant content that keeps them engaged off-premise and motivated to come back.
Other industries like retail, restaurants and hospitality are starting to make big strides in customer experience and personalized outreach, and with a small investment in technology, the fitness industry can catch up quick. Keep reading to learn five ways your fitness center can improve the member experience and engagement strategy.
Develop a single member view
Retail stores and quick-service restaurants are finding that their customers want to be individually recognized across all touchpoints for a seamless experience. Consumers in these spaces are looking for personalized engagements, relevant recommendations and friendly reminders. To be able to satisfy these wants and needs in the fitness industry, gyms must utilize the data they’re collecting to establish an actionable, single view of the customer. The benefits of having a single view are many, from creating engagements that make members feel valued to having the ability to recognize those members’ likelihood to churn. This means the time has come to upgrade legacy technology, and follow the lead of the most innovative brands across other verticals. Loosen up the bottlenecks holding your gym back, and engage your data to build a stronger memberbase.
Create an app
One way fitness centers can leverage their customer data is to develop an app. With people spending roughly 15% of waking hours on their phones per day there is little reason not to have one (Moment). If you’re under the impression that building an app would be an extensive process, keep in mind that there are many companies creating them at a very reasonable cost with little setup time. Instead you should be thinking of the ways you could create smarter interactions with members through an app! Is one of their favorite classes about to become filled? Send them a notification to sign up. Have they not showed up in a few weeks? Offer them words of encouragement. Did they just hit a PR or reach a weight loss goal? Say congratulations and send them an offer for a discount or special prize. Creating an app allows fitness centers to interact with members when they’re off-premise, which keeps the gym top of mind and cultivates a sense of community that previously wasn’t there.
Provide personalized content
All of the technology consumers have at their fingertips today gives brands the opportunity to reach members wherever they are with relevant content that keeps them engaged and the company top of mind. There are a wealth of great use cases for fitness centers. For example: send nutritional advice to members trying to be healthier, provide instructional videos to those who’ve signed up for new classes; or offer motivation to those who haven’t showed up in a few days. Sleep Number is one company that has done an incredible job of using relevant content to create smarter engagements. Lisa Erickson, the Sr. Director of CRM and Loyalty for the mattress company told Loyalty360 that the goal, “Is to make sure the customers understand that Sleep Number isn’t just selling them a mattress, but an entire sleep experience”. This is where fitness centers must become more cognizant of the fact that their members are entrusting them to help lead a healthier lifestyle, not just provide them with space to exercise. By providing meaningful content that helps member well-being, your company is on the right path to making a difference in someone’s life.
Prioritize customer service
Having the right technology in place is crucial for fitness centers to improve the member experience. However, the ironic fact is that technology -- specifically streaming fitness apps, online videos and virtual trainers -- is also luring people away from traditional gym memberships. That’s why it’s more crucial than ever to make sure that you provide an exceptional in-gym or in-studio experience. Great customer service encompasses the way your employees greet and onboard new members, the amenities in your locker rooms, the seating areas in your lobby and so much more. One of the most crucial aspects of exceptional customer service is personalization. According to The Impact of Rating on ClassPass Utilization and Loyalty, 68% of customers decide to no longer do business with a particular organization because they perceive an attitude of indifference by the employees. Gyms need to prioritize getting to know their members and demonstrating that they care by asking them how they liked a new class, or sending them a card on their birthday.
Boost member referrals
A benefit that comes from improving the member experience is happier and more loyal customers, and more loyal customers means a higher likelihood members will want to tell their friends about their experience. Current members are your best salespeople, and improved technology can alleviate pain points here by making the process easier for members to refer their friends, family and co-workers. Create multi-use promo codes that allow them to share their personalized referral code via email, SMS, Facebook or Twitter so they can reach their maximum audience. People tend to enjoy having a friend to exercise with, and are more likely to stick to a regimen with the support of peers, so make it easier for them to be able to recruit for your gym.
Fitness centers, health clubs and gyms succeed when members consistently renew their contracts. However, this space has grown to be uber competitive over the past few years. The companies that are able to improve the member experience, keep the gym top of mind with relevant content and keep members from churning will succeed. To do this they will need to upgrade technology to develop unified and actionable profiles. It wasn’t long ago that retailers and restaurants thought this was an impossible hill to climb, but the ones that summited the mountain are some of the most successful brands in the world today.