When it comes to online reviews today, your guests are out there flexing their collective muscle. Here are just a few findings from Qualtrics’ recent report:
- 97% of consumers check online reviews when considering products or services in their local area.
- 3.3 stars is the minimum rating that customers said they would do business with; only 13% will consider patronizing a business with only 1 or 2 stars.
Referencing Google turns up pages of hits on actions to take after your business receives a negative review, but little about how to avoid getting poor reviews in the first place. Yet it’s crucial to the success of your health club that you do avoid them. Here’s the down side of the statistics above:
- 94% of respondents said an online review convinced them to avoid a business.
- Businesses can lose as many as 22% of potential clients if they see just one negative article. If three negative articles are returned by a search query, the potential for lost customers increases to 59%.
- A one-star decrease in a Yelp rating could mean a 5-9% decrease in revenue (Harvard Business School).
So let’s take a closer look at how your gym can put in the work to pump up its customer experience and avoid negative reviews.
The Whys of Negative Reviews
Why do patrons post poor reviews? Research has shown they’re not just trolling or trying to get freebies. Instead, three main reasons have surfaced:
1. They need a solution.
Some say they leave poor reviews only after they’ve tried and failed to get their problem resolved through the usual channels.
2. They want you to fix what’s broken.
These reviewers have uncovered an issue that needs to be resolved, and they hope that, by surfacing it, they can help your business succeed.
3. They are lookin’ to testify.
In this stereotypical “it could happen to you” narrative, 75% of reviewers say they post poor ones to alert others to the potential for a bad experience.
Start Here to Avoid Negative Reviews
It seems the best way to avert bad reviews is to prioritize exceptional customer service so that it’s reflected not only in how your team responds to critiques, but in every aspect of your business. Here are some quick reminders of customer service best practice:
- Acknowledge that your gym is judged all the way through every guest interaction. Every facility must be immaculately clean and maintained according to current public safety guidelines. Your staff must be unfailingly friendly, polite and ready to answer any question. Your online presence also must be easy to comprehend at a glance and painless to use; just one frustrating interaction online is enough to ruin that client’s whole experience.
- Your staff, including contractors, can de-escalate most potentially damaging situations just by actively listening, acknowledging what they’re hearing, and being empowered to take appropriate action.
- Purposely ask for guest feedback – and then be prepared to take action on what they say. Your organization needs protocols for methodically evaluating all feedback and deciding if any processes should be adjusted or any new ideas implemented.
- Nothing is more frustrating to clients than to find themselves unable to contact your facility when they want to, the way they want to. Make sure all contact information including phone numbers, chat services, email addresses, etc., is highlighted throughout all your materials, either in print or online. (The best practice on this best practice: Offer more than one easy channel of communication.)
One reliable method for ensuring each facility is meeting these goals – and avoiding negative reviews — is to regularly use your business’ services. Put yourself in your clients’ athletic footgear by calling the front desk, scheduling (and canceling) a training session, trying to find classes online, etc.; you should even ask to speak to a manager. This process uncovers the sort of speed bumps in the customer journey that lead to poor reviews and should be addressed as quickly as possible.
Establishing Operational Excellence
Here’s where we get into the heavy lifting on this whole topic: Considering that any guest at any time in any facility can potentially trash your chain online, how can you bash-proof all operations throughout your enterprise?
This concept doesn’t have to be daunting if you invest in a digital, mobile auditing solution that unites your entire organization in pursuit of a consistently excellent customer experience. Here’s how.
Retiring any paper-based facility checklists on public safety procedures, branding, etc., in favor of moving them to a digital format is a great idea for many reasons. For starters, you can standardize these lists and forms across all team members, all shifts and all facilities – and build in direct, objective transparency and accountability around list completion.
Establish Operational Standards
A digital, mobile checklist app can also house all operational procedures so that any team member can quickly access them on their phone. When any process changes, you update it only once, and the app automatically forwards the update to every device in real time. Operations are almost effortlessly kept current and consistent.
Further, this mobile software can standardize and customize training for both contractors and employees. Each position is assigned training modules that address specific job responsibilities, so each individual completes only the relevant training. You can easily define and emphasize the customer service standards that are applicable to any position.
Audit For Consistency
Finally, only a standardized, regular audit schedule can establish whether each facility is providing the customer service that avoids bad reviews. Your audits should cover all the major points of your operational plan and should be completed as often as is productive. Whatever the schedule, a mobile, digital audit solution will consolidate all the results into the concise, real-time reporting that opens a window into conditions not just within each facility, but across your enterprise.
MeazureUp: Your Key to Healthy Operations
Preventing negative online reviews takes care of itself when you put your guests at the center of every action taken by every team member. Only you can decide exactly how that works inside every facility – but MeazureUp is the digital, mobile solution that will help you build it through every team member, every shift, and every facility. Contact us to see how our solution can help with your health club management operations today.