This blog post is provided by Listen360.
The health, fitness and wellness businesses that use Listen360 generate hundreds of thousands of customer responses each year. So, as you can imagine, we’ve learned a thing or two about what customers are looking for in a gym, studio or spa experience.
Sure, customers often mention things like price, class size and cleanliness, but here’s something that might surprise you. Both happy and unhappy customers talk about one thing most frequently: people.
From front desk personnel to instructors and trainers, your staff is the topic of most customer feedback. From your customer’s perspective, your staff is your business, and their actions and attitude are more important than your location, your prices, your class schedules or your equipment. As an owner or manager, you’ll help your business by bringing out the best in your team.
Timely, ongoing feedback from clients can help.
Customer feedback is like a mirror.
Long-term clients stick around because they have built a relationship with your people. In feedback, they’ll describe your team as “friendly,” “helpful” and “caring.” But sometimes customers just don’t feel the love. If they say things like “rude,” “unapproachable” or “distracted,” chances are pretty good that after a couple of visits, they will give up and go elsewhere.
So try reading customer comments aloud during staff meetings. This brings it to life. Hearing someone say, “No one even smiled. I just felt kind of invisible,” will help your team see themselves from the customer’s viewpoint, and make it clear that their behavior can have a positive—or negative—effect on your business.
Be a coach.
Don’t be afraid to share negative feedback when setting expectations with team members. When you trust employees enough to give them the whole story, it shows that you value them and are invested in making them successful.
Julia Pickslay, owner of Assets Barre Fitness Studio, makes sure her team sees all the feedback provided by her students. “Every day, the responses from our clients go straight to our instructors, to help them be the best they can possibly be,” she says. “It works as a great training tool, highlighting positive things they should continue to do and helping them address things that need to be corrected.”
Handle specific individual criticism delicately. Discuss it privately, and give the employee time to correct the problem. You can establish a nurturing tone by sharing a personal story about a blunder you have made.
Motivate and uplift.
Customer feedback isn’t just for complaints, so share the good news freely. Who wouldn’t want to work at a place where customers say things like, “I look forward to class every day! The staff is welcoming and they really know what they are doing!”
When the kudos are for an individual, acknowledge that team member publicly. Great employees deserve recognition, and it gives the rest of your team positive behavior to emulate.
Caroline Gronowski, owner of Yoga Bliss, says, “Positive feedback is a way for our instructors to keep in touch with our students, and it helps renew their passion, reminding them why they teach yoga.”
Enable action and accountability.
A customer-centric culture can blossom if employees feel empowered to solve problems—think Nordstrom’s and Ritz Carlton. Have an action plan for responding to customer complaints quickly. Ideally, someone should follow up within 24 hours. Also, decide how much authority team members will have to satisfy customers; be specific about what compensation they can offer. Keep tabs on how each situation is handled and step in only if necessary.
Encourage creativity and ownership.
Don’t miss opportunities to let your staff’s creativity shine! They may have great ideas, but they’ll only speak up in a supportive, tolerant environment where they feel comfortable.
Use customer feedback to start the discussion, and then rather than declaring a solution, encourage employees to offer ideas. For example, don’t say, “I’m going to change the class schedule because we’ve gotten several complaints that weeknight classes are too crowded.” Try something like, “Our weeknight classes are so popular that customers are feeling cramped. How can we do a better job of accommodating everyone?”
As you work to bring out the best in your people, you will develop a culture of action and accountability where both customer loyalty and employee loyalty can flourish.