Achieving success within the health and fitness club, gym, and leisure centre industry is all about creating truly effective, experienced and knowledgeable sales teams – as well as equally skilled and efficient customer service teams. There’s a huge distinction between the roles that sales teams and customer service teams play, and the two should not be confused, overlapped, or merged (as is often the tendency). So with this in mind, it’s time to take a look at where sales teams stop, and excellent customer service teams should start.
Done well, the transition for the customer from sales to outstanding ongoing customer service and support is seamless and impressive. However, done badly, it’s a recipe for disaster and could result in a loss of those all-important members.
We all like to feel as though we’re receiving a great level of customer service. It’s human nature that we want to be made to feel as though our purchase – whether it’s an object or a service – is of paramount importance, and as a customer we are valued. So ensuring your customer service team is equipped with the skills to nurture new and existing members is a truly vital component in your retention plan. And employing a dedicated person who is responsible for taking care of each new member’s needs is one key way to achieving great customer service.
It’s often very common for health and fitness clubs, gyms, and leisure centres to confuse the distinction between sales teams and customer service teams. However, expecting sales or customer service team members to both sell and then take responsibility for the after care is both exceptionally risky and ineffective.
You need to consider that both the profile and job description of a sales team member is poles apart from that of a customer service team member. Sales team members are trained and skilled in the art of persuasion and closing a sale. They understand how to empathise with the prospective member in order to achieve the correct level of membership. And they know how to promote the benefits of joining your health and fitness club, gym, and leisure centre to maximum effect.
Yet a customer service team member is highly skilled in the art of nurturing and retention. And it’s the all-important retention rates which need to be given as much attention as the sales process itself. It will come as no surprise that the most effective and profitable health and fitness clubs, gyms, and leisure centres operate both sales teams and customer service teams. Each sales team member understands the important role a customer service team member plays, and conversely each customer service team member understands exactly what a sales team member is responsible for doing.
Remember: Sales skills include the ability to influence, assert and close sales. Whereas customer service skills include attentiveness, complaint handling and administrative knowledge.
It’s important, though, to appreciate that each customer service team member should receive some basic sales training. And, of course, each sales team member should receive customer service training too. Whilst the two teams are completely separate, and each function is entirely different, to ensure your overall business success, continuity and also reputation, it’s crucial that each member of your sales and customer service workforce understands the critical role they play in, and the impact they have on, the customer’s joining experience.
And the role of your reception team…
First impressions count. So ensuring your reception team is skilled in both basic sales and customer service is, again, vital to the ongoing success and profitability of your health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre.
The reception team is the first point of contact for both prospective, new and existing members. So to receive a warm welcome, as well as competent support and advice, and someone to which queries can be directed is, for most people, an essential requirement. Many a time, a receptionist has handled a prospective member as they are seen as the first point of contact, so it’s vital that your reception team has the skills, training and knowledge to handle enquiries effectively, and to create a highly professional and friendly first impression – as well as a truly seamless buying experience.
Failure to train your reception team effectively could result in your health and fitness club, gym, or leisure centre missing out on securing new memberships. It can also have a knock on effect, as that missed member won’t recommend their family or friends, and additionally they won’t have the opportunity to use your facilities to reach their health, wellbeing and fitness goals.
To conclude… Where sales teams stop, and customer service teams begin
It’s time to build a small, in-house sales team which is focused on achieving (and exceeding) sales targets. Recruit sales team members with the drive, determination and hunger to succeed by finding leads, qualifying leads, and converting them into new members. And focus your attention on creating a customer service team too which includes skilled members capable of effectively caring for customers, handling complaints, answering questions, booking activities, and acting as ambassadors for your business.