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editor’s letter


Subscriptions Denise Gildea +44 (0)1462 471930


Circulation Manager Michael Emmerson +44 (0)1462 471932


Editor


Kate Cracknell +44 (0)1462 471906


Editorial Director Liz Terry


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Assistant Editor Katie Barnes


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News Editor Tom Walker


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Product Editor Kate Corney


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+44 (0)1462 471900 Emma Harris


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Sales John Challinor +44 (0)1202 742968 Astrid Ros


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Financial Administrator Denise Gildea +44 (0)1462 471930


Credit Controller Rebekah Scott +44 (0)1462 733477


october 2012 © cybertrek 2012


Member satisfaction


The financial value of customer satisfaction has been magnified in the digital age. Gone are the days when – whether satisfied or dissatisfied – a customer would ultimately tell just a handful of friends. Today, internet-based review sites mean customer experiences are read by hundreds, even thousands, of people. And that has a very immediate impact on the bottom line of a business. Recent research by two economists at Berkeley, US, found that


– in online restaurant reviews – just a half-star improvement on Yelp’s five-star rating made it between 30 and 49 per cent more likely that a restaurant would be fully booked for its evening tables. Meanwhile in the fitness sector, payasUgym.com – which allows people to book passes to participating


gyms on a ‘pay as you go’ basis – recently completed a study into online buying. Based on customer feedback and purchases through its website in the first seven months of 2012 – encompassing 450 clubs by the end of July, and well over 4,000 pieces of customer feedback – the study analysed the volume of purchases made for each gym. It then compared this to both the number of reviews the gym had received, and its average feedback score based on a combination of five factors: customer service, equipment availability, range of facilities, hygiene and price (value for money). Not surprisingly, gyms scoring an average


Whatever the impact of good customer service on satisfaction, it seems equipment availability might be even more important, creating a very level playing fi eld for the budget club model


customer rating of three out of five or more saw an uplift in sales of 25 per cent compared to gyms scoring less than three. But number of ratings was also important.


Gyms with fewer than four reviews saw no real variance in sales performance, but just four or five reviews immediately led to a sales uplift of 60 per cent in volume terms. More than five reviews meant another 150 per cent


uplift on top of this. These scores were irrespective of review content, although as co-founder Neil Harmsworth explains: “The customer feedback we receive on gym visits is 94.6 per cent positive.” First of all, this makes a very clear case for gyms to proactively engage in the online buying process,


securing a business-building volume of customer reviews. But just as importantly, it forces operators to work out where their value really lies – what elements of a gym’s offering are key to good ratings? Conventionally the sector’s value has been seen to be held in its people, with the quantity of member-


staff interactions the widely accepted key to driving retention. To that, based purely on my own experience, I’d add quality of interactions, with my recent experience at Aspria a great example (see p38). In spite of staff salaries being in line with market norms, Aspria’s culture of immaculate service, where staff are seen as hosts as much as instructors, left me raving about it to all who would listen. But now new data from GYMetrix suggests that, in fact, it’s equipment availability that really drives


member satisfaction (see p62). This is backed up by a survey of 3,267 users rating gyms booked through payasUgym.com: 21 per cent were put off returning because the gym was too busy, with kit unavailable; rude or unfriendly staff only dissuaded 8 per cent of people. Whatever the positive impact of good customer service versus the negative impact of bad service, it seems kit availability might be even more important – all of which creates a very level playing field for the staff-light, equipment-max budget clubs.


Kate Cracknell, editor – katecracknell@leisuremedia.com / twitter: @HealthClubKate To share your thoughts on this topic, visit www.healthclubmanagement.co.uk/blog


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