By Adam Sacco, Special AFS Contributor

Ensuring that your employees are providing quality customer service is more important than ever before because of the role that digital and social media now play in your gym or studio's overall reputation and digital footprint.

Quality customer service (or lack thereof) directly impacts your online consumer reviews and can greatly diminish the return on investment of your marketing efforts, no matter the marketing tactics and platforms you are currently using as part of your marketing mix.

When a potential customer receives a marketing piece, their first step is to likely perform an online search which can lead them to reviews of what others are saying about your business.

Bad reviews can and will prevent some people from even inquiring, which can lead to ineffective marketing campaigns.

Because we now live in a digital & social age, your members -­‐ both past and present -­‐ will write reviews based on their experiences, sharing both positive and negative responses. You must be proactive when responding to these reviews, being mindful that your response can have just as much of an impact on consumer decision-­‐making as the review itself.

As with most anything, there is no way to please everyone. However, with some effort and dedicated staff resources, you can certainly better manage it. Your goal as a business owner, while not always, but a majority of your time is spent seeking new prospects. In order to do this effectively, you must dedicate a large portion of your marketing budget to acquiring these new members. How many leads and members do you think you lose each month due to a poor review? You would be surprised at how it adds up over the course of the year. This can easily be addressed with some patience and a bit of extra staff training which comes at a minimal expense to you and produces good results.


Here are some tips on how to improve.

  1. It starts with you as the owner or manager and trickles down to your staff! Your staff has to see how you handle problems correctly and must receive guidance on how to address common problems in the voice and messaging of your brand. Ideally, share a Common Questions and Responses Guide with them. This will serve as a resource for them to reference with standard language that has been reviewed and approved by you prior to utilizing online or via social platforms. Remind them that these reviews are direct insight from customers into how to improve and should be carefully reviewed.
  2. Teach your staff to treat each complaint with patience and respect. You can even tell them to envision that it is coming from a friend or neighbor. If they feel they cannot address it correctly, share that it’s ok to tell a customer you don’t know the answer but you will find out right away and get back to them. Communication is key.
  3. We all know the membership cancellations are a trigger for a bad review. We all hate to cancel a membership. However, you must understand that making it difficult for members to do so can affect your marketing results going forward along with your reputation within your community. If a member is not able to cancel, make sure you explain why and give them all necessary information. Remember that how you share this with them is all in the delivery and do try to offer another solution, when possible. Some members will appreciate you working with them to find a reasonable solution. Other common negative reviews include topics such as enhancement fees, equipment repairs and overall cleanliness. These are all easy to address and fix moving forward.
  4. Encourage your current members to post positive reviews about your business and provide an incentive for those who do! This is a great way to build up a community of fans, ensuring that when the dreaded negative review does come your way, it is balanced by a wealth of positive feedback.

The biggest takeaway is that reputation management and customer service training takes very little in terms of budget and staff resources. Once you have a solid plan in place and take time to communicate it clearly with your staff, it can have a lasting impact on the reputation of your business and the success of future marketing campaigns.


Adam Sacco is the Director of Sales & New Business Development at Members Today - a full service marketing company with a focus on the fitness industry located in Marietta, Georgia.

Adam has over 25 years of experience in the fitness industry that spans from personal training, sales and general management to his current role with Members Today.
trainer. After graduation, Adam started down his career path by joining the team at a local Gold's Gym as a sales consultant.  After a short time, he was named as their General Manager helping expand the gym's footprint to include three locations. Because of the success he had with Gold's Gym, he was recruited by a national direct mail and marketing company to join their team as their senior consultant providing hundreds of national clients with membership acquisition, retention, and marketing expertise.

After many years in marketing, he moved to a new venture at ABC Financial with a focus on billing software, providing knowledge and insight on an entirely new side of the business. His love of marketing and passion for helping his clients succeed led him to his current role with Members Today where he is focused on business development, sales 
and marketing.

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