Who Is Responsible for Delivering Stellar Customer Service at Your Health Club?

Every person on your staff plays a role in customer service, but some positions—like fitness instructors—are more important than others.

Ask any health club operator who on their staff is responsible for delivering stellar customer service, and you’ll likely receive this reply: everyone.

They’re not wrong—each and every staff member can make a positive impact on customer service delivery. But when correlating stellar customer service with member retention, data from The IHRSA Member Retention Report series points out the critical role fitness staff—including group exercise instructors—plays.

Fitness Staff Interactions Are Invaluable

For every 100 health club members, 16 will leave in any given month in which there are no interactions with fitness staff, according to the current installment of The IHRSA Member Retention Report. However, if these same members receive just one fitness interaction throughout the month, only seven will leave.

Furthermore, every two interactions a member receives from fitness staff yields an additional visit per month.

The Role of Group Exercise (and Group X Instructors)

One of the most organic ways for members to interact with fitness staff is through group exercise classes, and members who participate in group X are more likely to retain their membership than those who only use gym equipment, according to a The Retention People (TRP) study.

Ultimately, the report found that 88% of group exercise members retained their membership during the duration of the study, compared to 82% of gym-only members. The risk of cancelling was 56% higher in gym-only members compared to group exercisers.

Creating a Club-wide Service Culture

Fitness staff and group X instructors play a vital role in delivering stellar customer service, especially as it pertains to member retention. But our aforementioned hypothetical club operator was right—everyone on your staff can improve your club’s customer service. And the best way to accomplish that is by creating a club-wide service culture.

Brent Darden, CEO of Brent Darden Consulting, suggests following these four steps to delivering a service culture:

  1. Make customer service a central part of your club’s core value system.
  2. Recruit talent based on their ability to deliver service. (This is much more important than any technology training they might have.)
  3. Provide onboarding education and continuing education for employees so they understand and are constantly reminded about the importance of the member experience and how to make it happen.
  4. Set up a reward and recognition system that is specifically tailored to recognizing people that are delivering on those customer experience values.

Feedback from members can help you identify how every department of your clubs is responsible for delivering stellar customer service. Consider the phrases most frequently cited by loyal members in describing their clubs:

  • Friendly staff: All departments
  • Plenty of equipment: General manager, purchasing managers, training directors
  • Variety of classes/programs: Group exercise directors, fitness programming directors, instructors
  • Clean facility: Housekeeping/maintenance, front desk staff (especially in minimally staffed club operations)
  • Good customer service: Everyone providing a service at the club, from personal trainers, group X instructors, tennis instructors, front desk staff, etc.
Author avatar

Melissa Rodriguez

Melissa Rodriguez is a Market Research Advisor for IHRSA. When she's not analyzing data and statistics, Melissa enjoys spending time with family, watching superhero series, poring over NBA and NFL box scores, and reading a good book.