Simple Steps to Improve the Member Experience

We sat down with Chris Stevenson and Marisa Hoff for a quick Q&A where they give tips on how to create an excellent member experience and why a little effort goes a long way.

Chris Stevenson, founder of The Empower Group, and Marisa Hoff, director of operations at The Empower Group, sat down with CBI to share some tips and tricks on how to improve the member experience post-COVID.

Q: Now that our members are back, what are some ways that we can make their in-club experience exceptional?

A: As operators, we need to provide a member experience that people are looking for in this new normal. It’s our responsibility to give them a facility where they feel safe and comfortable. Whether they’re a new or returning member, act as if everybody is getting a first impression. As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Greet With a Warm Welcome

Keep your eyes on the member and smile when you greet them. And, of course, you’re going to use their names. Names personalize an experience and make people feel comfortable.

Be Aware of Body Language

Everyone at the welcome desk needs to be standing tall, with their shoulders back and their head lifted high. Don’t lean against the desk, slouch, or cross your arms, because that delivers an unintentional message. We often say, “If you’re leaning, you’re not cleaning,” which means a member knows that you’re not doing what you need to be doing.

Be aware that even though you may not be engaging with someone directly, your body language speaks volumes.

Leadership Stevenson Hoff Training Video

Listen and Engage

While a member may not actually voice a suggestion or a complaint, it might be implied informally in passing or in conversation. For instance, let’s say a member comes up to your welcome desk and wants to know when the spin classes are being offered. And when the welcome desk attendant informs them that they’re at 6 a.m., Monday through Friday, the member kind of shrugs and says, “Oh, that’s way too early for me,” and walks off.

This is the opportunity for the person at the welcome desk to make a suggestion on behalf of that member. So, that member will get some sort of follow-up from the group X manager, who says something like, “I heard that you would rather take spin classes in the afternoon. Let me make note of that, and when we reevaluate our schedule, we’ll let you know if there’s a change.” That member is being listened to, and in a way that they weren’t even formally asking to be.

Use Questions to Go the Extra Mile

If a member asks where the towels are, don’t just tell them, get them one instead. If someone asks where the locker room is, don’t give directions, but escort them there. Make sure you’re always looking for somebody who may have a question, who is standing there looking lost or frustrated. Ask them if there’s something you can do for them. The answer might be no, but those people will still appreciate the fact that you were proactive about asking.

Give Fond Farewells

“Thanks for coming” or “Have a great day” doesn’t create a memorable, engaging experience. First, ask them how their experience was. In this new normal, that’s a powerful question. Often, if people have a bad experience, they’ll leave without telling you.

So, as someone is leaving your facility, engage them by saying, “How was your experience today?” They might say it was wonderful, but it might also prompt them to tell you something that wasn’t great for them that day. And then you have the chance to address that issue. Ask when you will see them again. They need to come back, and you want to reinforce that.

Chris Stevenson is the founder of The Empower Group, and Marisa Hoff is the Director of Operations at The Empower Group in Westlake Village, California.

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Member Experience Training in the Post-COVID Era [CLASS]

Learn why customer experience is extremely important post-COVID and how you can create the perfect member experience with Be Military Fit Westlake franchise owners, Chris Stevenson and Marisa Hoff.


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Kristen Walsh

Kristen Walsh previously served as IHRSA's Associate Publisher—a position focused on the creation and distribution of Club Business International, as well as writing and editing articles, newsletters, and research reports.