BusinessExpert Advice

3 Areas Fitness Retailers Can Improve Customer Service to Boost Profit

It can be hard to accept the technology-driven changes affecting today’s marketplace, especially as a small business owner.  But even before “pandemic” was an everyday word, the way we “do” customer service has been changing for years. These days, it’s sink or swim (digitally) – and the small businesses that think ahead and evolve with technology have fared the best. Below, consider a few simple ways to level up your customer service that will pay off today and tomorrow. 

It’s all in the online reviews…

More than ever, customers and potential customers have access to instant reviews.  They can browse sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, Google, and Facebook to see your business summarized not just by a rating, but with direct input from your customers. This is a huge opportunity for every kind of business and a direct reflection of your customer experience. Because…

  • 91% of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews
  • 68% form an opinion after reading between one and six reviews
  • Positive reviews actively influence your position in local, online search

But these five stars are not outside of your control. In fact, as a small business it’s easier to control reviews than a giant retailer. Because you’re more nimble. You can fine-tune your customer service, react quickly to changes, and implement customer-centered policies with ease. You can re-train employees and print new signage in a matter of hours. It takes your big-box competitors months to do the same.

Above all else, you can ensure your customer service is top-notch. Positive reviews are essential and good customer service will make sure you get them. But what about negative reviews?

Complaints pinpoint areas for improvement

Of course you’d prefer to have only positive reviews online, but that’s not reality. Dissatisfied customers are more likely to spread the word than others. In fact, dissatisfied customers tell between nine to 15 people about their experience (and 13% tell more than 20!) while happy customers tell only four to six people. [White House Office of Consumer Affairs,]

Fuel your improvement

A customer complaint can be valuable input on how you can improve. Not only that, it can give you a powerful opportunity to demonstrate empathy – and show your customers that you’re listeningThis has been especially true as small businesses across our network navigate evolving guidelines pertaining to Coronavirus. 

Studies show that customers who see their complaint successfully dealt with are 70% more likely to patronize the business again. Make sure your employees know how to deal with complaints in a positive and sincere manner.

Make it Easy to Do Business With You

Even on a bad day, you never want a customer to feel like a nuisance. Whether they’re interrupting you or simply not buying anything – don’t create a hostile environment that forces them away. Smile, greet them, and offer the assistance you would expect yourself. But that’s not all – constantly think about the ‘customer journey’. Where are there bumps in the road? How can you help along the way? Consider “secret shopping” yourself. Call your store, browse your website, and pretend you’re a customer in a bad mood. It can quickly point out some of your most glaring hurdles.

How else can you make it easy to do business with you?

Payment Options

In a time when cash is seen as dirty and more customers want to pay with cards – waving certain cards could be ill-advised. Take advantage of every opportunity to win back margin on card processing. Don’t forget! Members of Fitness Shop Edge gain special access to payment processing discounts. 

Add convenience at every corner

The more convenient you can be, the more your customers will appreciate you and return for more. After all, convenience is why Amazon grew so incredibly quickly. 

For example: for many industries impacted by COVID-19, customer service options that cut-down on human contact have also demonstrated that maybe customers wanted a home-delivery option all along. 

So how can you make your business that much more convenient for your customers? A delivery service? Text messaging? More strategic email communications. Now is the time to get creative.

Make Your Business Reachable

Reaching a person at a behemoth like IKEA or Home Depot often seems as impossible as contacting North Korea. This is where small businesses have an incredible advantage, and there’s many ways to do better. Celebrate that!

Especially right now, when more businesses have been forced to change the way they operate due to COVID-19, ensuring that your customers understand your hours and your protocols is essential. Are you taking advantage of every avenue to make that message clear?

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Hire Good Employees, Keep them Happy, and Train Them Well

Your employees must be adequately trained and knowledgeable about the product or service you provide and how you provide it. Hire employees with the right personality for the job you are looking to fill. Then, train them well.

It’s widely known that the happiest employees provide the best service. So keep your employees happy and you will see the reward in their interactions with customers. 68% of customers defect because they felt poorly treated, according to TARP. 

Better communication = better service

 As more and more businesses begin to offer online service and sales, customers want the ability to call or chat to get fast answers from an expert. How do you ensure that communication channels are open, clear, and welcoming? No matter what you choose, make sure your processes are communicated to your customer wherever it makes sense. 

Training is key

Ideally, the same customer question or concern presented to 4 different employees should receive a similar  response every time. If this isn’t the case – it might be time to think about training. Consistent and confident responses to everyday scenarios are a critical part of good customer service. 

Understand the customer journey to update the employee journey

One way to improve your customer service is to map-out the customer’s journey. Not only can this help you find pain points to smooth over, but it can also encourage you to look at your employee’s journey. If the average customer is experiencing difficulty here or there – could it lead to a necessary process improvement or training adjustment? All of this input can provide a valuable signpost for improvement. 

Consider a Customer Loyalty Program with Rewards

Small businesses thrive on promoting and rewarding their customer base. Though customers sometimes dislike giving out their email address and personal information, it is worth asking them. Your loyal customers will appreciate the ability to rack up points or dollars to spend later.

The list of available rewards programs is endless. Often your point of sale (POS) system has one built in, there are add-on programs, or you could do something more old-fashioned (like a punch card). No matter what, we highly recommend keeping email addresses for ease of contact. 

Here are some factors to consider when implementing a loyalty program:

Consider your goal

Do you want to drive higher ticket sales? Increase the average item per transaction? Use this goal to craft the program details.

Determine the reward type

Will customers receive dollars back on purchases? What is the threshold?

Make rewards information visible

If possible, allow customers to check rewards balance online. If you have an online shop, allowing them to use rewards online is huge.

Keep data accurate

Loyalty programs introduce opportunity for mistakes. With syncing systems and user error, a loyalty system will complicate things. Test and troubleshoot all changes to ensure customer data stays accurate. Having inaccurate and unreliable customer reward information is worse than not having a loyalty program at all.

Use reward data for insights:

The point of a loyalty program is to drive sales and capture customer analytics. Look at reports to see the impact of customer loyalty programs on sales and customer retention.

Stay Relevant & Proactive

In many ways, great customer service boils down to great communication. In a day in age where a customer’s negative review can instantly be broadcast for all to see – it’s important to remember your small business shares the same power to quickly, openly, and flexibly communicate. 

From online reviews and operational tweaks to the way you train your people, use this flexibility to your advantage! Your small business will be all the better for it.

And never stop learning…

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