Suggestions on teaching effective customer service to staff members.
Every employee's interaction with a member or potential member makes an impression. Your mission is to make sure that your staff members understand this key concept, and have the tools to make those interactions so positive that members are not only happy, but thrilled, with your fitness center. Read on for some suggestions on teaching effective customer service.
The importance of good service
It is not very business savvy to unleash an untrained staff member on an unsuspecting public. It almost ensures that your employees will make fools of themselves in a short time -- something that will damage their morale and job commitment. It also makes your facility look bad.
Institute a comprehensive training program for all new employees, and then test their knowledge of equipment, facility procedures and other essential information before they have any contact with members. To make sure that an employee is ready, role playing can be revealing. Play the role of a new member and ask employees-in-
training questions. Can they answer all of them?
The limits of employee authority
What are employees authorized to do in the event of a problem? Can they give a refund? If so, under what circumstances? When does a manager need to be called in to resolve a problem? Anticipate the sorts of issues that your employees may face, and give them the tools and information they will need to deal with them, including any procedures for documenting the problem and the resolution. Having clear protocols for situations gives employees the confidence and security they need to deal with problems efficiently and effectively.
Have the resources available
Since you can't be there at all times, consider creating a comprehensive employee manual that contains fitness center procedures, emergency contacts and frequently asked questions about your facility. To do the best job for your members, your employees need to not only be knowledgeable, they need to be able to demonstrate their knowledge on demand to inspire trust and confidence from your members.
Training is an ongoing process
Resist the temptation to consider training a costly, one-time event. Training is a dynamic process that involves building on existing skills and knowledge to achieve higher levels of expertise and ability. Seminars, workshops and conventions are ideal places for employees to not only learn new things, but to recharge their enthusiasm and energy.
Just as every interaction with a member is an opportunity to make an impression, so is every interaction between you and a staff member an opportunity. Give specific feedback every day, not only about areas that need improvement, but also about things that are outstanding. One of the best ways to teach people what you want is to catch them doing something right, and then praise them to the skies.
Antonova, M. "Customer Service a la Russe: The client is never right." www.mosnews.com/feature/2005/03/01/service.shtml.
Le Clair, J. "Take the Time to Train Your Customer Service Staff." www.inc.com/articles/2000/04/18227.html.