If there’s one thing that’s almost certain to grow your leisure centre or fitness business, it’s providing an excellent customer experience.

Get that right and not only will you keep your customers coming back, but they are likely to visit more frequently and go out of their way to tell their friends and colleagues about your business.

While customer expectations differ wildly by industry, there are some universal truths. A warm welcome always pays and efficient systems can prevent delays and unpleasant surprises that can take the gloss off an otherwise flawless experience.

Read on for five top tips to help you provide a winning customer experience at your leisure centre or fitness club.

First impressions count

The customer experience starts from the moment people begin interacting with your business. Whether that’s in person, on the phone, or via your website or social media, make sure it is easy for customers to find the information they want, without delay or hassle.

If a customer phones, ensure they are greeted warmly and staff have the information they need on hand. If someone leaves a message, don’t leave it for days to get back to them.

The same applies online. Make your website easy to navigate, ensure any photos are high quality and engaging, and double check that all links or contact details are up to date and working. The key is to showcase your brand in the best possible light, give customers confidence in what you are offering and ensure they can easily find the information they want, when they want it.

Make booking easy

If customers are interested in what your leisure centre or fitness club has to offer, their next step will hopefully be to make a booking.

Some facilities get by offering over the counter, email or phone bookings only, but they are becoming the exception.

These days many customers are increasingly looking to book online, often from their computer at work or mobile phone while they are on the go. Making it quick and painless for people to book group fitness classes and services like creche care online will help to satisfy this expectation.

Modern leisure management software, like Envibe can make booking easy for your customers. Envibe offers a members’ portal that allows leisure centre members to book group fitness classes online. Members can also tag in for their group fitness classes from their mobile phone or home or work PC, ahead of their arrival, to save time.

Remove wait times

There’s nothing worse than having to wait. Especially if you have children in tow or are trying to squeeze in some fitness or recreation before work or during your lunchbreak.

But short of hiring more front-desk staff, there are only so many options to get people through the doors faster. Some leisure centres around Australia and New Zealand are reducing wait times by using self-service kiosks that allow members to check themselves in and pay for admission without lining up at the main reception desk.

These kiosks can be made to interface with leisure management software (our own Envibe leisure management software does this very well), making administration easy and providing a rich set of data for business reporting marketing purposes.

Efficient entrance control gates can also help reduce wait times. If the gates take too long or don’t always open as they should, customers can get frustrated. The result is that front-desk staff may be forced to step away from serving other customers to deal with the issue.

The value of a painless and delay-free experience remains equally true once people are through the doors. If they have to wait to swim their laps because the lanes are overcrowded, they are unlikely to be satisfied. The same is true in the gym – if people are always waiting to get on the treadmill or to enjoy the weight training equipment they love, they won’t be happy.

Create a welcoming environment

It’s often said that people may forget what you said or what you did, but they will almost certainly remember how you made them feel.

A welcoming environment goes a long way towards creating the kind of warm-fuzzy feeling that keeps customers coming back for more. In the leisure or fitness setting, customers expect to be treated well, greeted with a smile, and to have their questions answered. In most cases they want personal attention – they don’t want to be treated like a number.

Hiring the right staff, keeping them motivated and providing appropriate training are crucial when it comes to getting this right at your leisure centre or fitness centre.

Keep the conversation going after customers leave

The customer experience doesn’t have to end once people walk out the door. Follow up emails and SMS messages that are helpful, relevant and well targeted can provide motivation, make customers feel special, and keep them coming back for more.

Modern leisure management software should have this functionality build in. Using our own Envibe software, it’s simple to keep in touch with customers by creating trigger messages that send them relevant and helpful information, at the right time. This might include a reminder about an upcoming class, a prompt to complete a customer survey, or even a discount offer to reward loyalty or encourage customers to bring a friend for free next time.

If you have the right leisure management software and can anticipate your customers’ needs, you will be able to target them with helpful and highly relevant communications that both improve customer satisfaction and add to your bottom line.