Think back to the last time you received poor customer service. Did you feel ignored? Did you feel like you were inconveniencing the staff that is paid to assist you? Will you ever go back to that business again? How many people have you told about that negative experience? Did you share it with your online networks?
Now think back to the last time you had an outstanding customer service experience. What happened? How did it make you feel? Are you excited to go back and be a repeat customer? Have you shared the positive experience with your social network?
Delivering good service makes all of the difference between developing long-term customers and being out of business within a few months. Unfortunately, many health clubs do not teach how to deliver good customer service. The tendency is to hire based on appearance, not on the ability to deliver a high level of service. And once a new hire is on board as an employee, there is often very little training on how to interact with the club members.
If you work for yourself, either in clients’ homes or as a contractor in a club or studio, chances are NO ONE is giving you guidance on how to provide successful customer interactions. My work experience includes teaching customer-service workshops to fitness staff in one of the largest health club companies in the United States. We wanted our trainers and group fitness instructors to deliver an optimal experience EVERY TIME they had an interaction with a member, whether it was delivering a group class or conducting an initial assessment with a potential client.
If you’re grinding it out for a number of sessions a day or running from a fitness class to a client’s house and back to a different studio or gym, it can be easy to let the day get to you and affect your performance. What top trainers and instructors know is how to take the necessary steps to ensure they deliver a top experience, no matter how they may be feeling.
When it comes to delivering great service, don’t expect to do it perfectly right from the start. Instead, practice the principle of kaizen—improving by 1 percent at a time. Sometimes you’ll be firing on all cylinders and rock it, other days not so much. Here are important tips on how to deliver a service experience that will help you stand out from the competition. Some of these tips are from How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, one of the best books available on how to interact with others for both professional and personal relationships.
- Smile. When people see a smile, they have a tendency to smile back.
- Say hello and look people in the eye. This is a great way to create instant connection.
- Be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves.
- If you work for an employer, act as if you’re the owner of your own business. How would you want your employees to treat your customers?
- Introduce yourself, ask the individual’s name and use it.
- Talk in terms of the other person’s (client’s) interests.
- You are a professional delivering a professional service, so dress like a professional so you will be treated like one. Avoid the temptation to wear muscle shirts or clothes that are too tight; instead, wear solid-colored pants and shirts with minimal logos.
- Practice proper grooming—shave, comb your hair or pull it back, and wear minimal cologne, perfume or jewelry. This is in keeping with the previous point about dressing professionally—appearances matter, so invest in yours.
- Leave your phone in your pocket or, better yet, don’t carry it with you during a session. If you do need to take a call, explain the reason at the start of your session and ask the client for permission. This will let clients know you respect them and their time.
- Do not sit down during the workout. Kneel instead.
- Stay engaged during the session. Do not talk to other members or trainers. If another member or trainer asks you a business-oriented question, answer quickly and return your focus back to your client.
- When teaching group classes, be sure to welcome everyone to class and thank them for coming.
- Praise every improvement.
- Use encouragement. Make errors seem easy to correct. Provide simple instructions when cueing—you only need to provide one or two teaching points at a time.
We all have those days where we might be dragging our tails. This is when it is most important to focus on providing great service. Take a cue from professional actors in a stage play— they make it special for every audience regardless of how many times they’ve done the performance. Personally, I have found that doing the little things like saying hello to members, passing out towels before a class or simply smiling can quickly put me in the mood to deliver top-notch service.