Summer is a prime time for gyms to engage with current and potential members, as many of us are motivated by upcoming holidays. However, a new report from global digital experience design agency Critical Mass reveals that gyms are focusing their attention on salesmanship and providing refurbished facilities, rather than the customer experience.
A poll of 2,000 gym members highlights the importance of the customer experience, with half of respondents (50 per cent) willing to pay up to £10 extra a month for improved customer service at their existing gym.
In an industry that faces serious disruption and increased competition from new service offerings and personal technology, particularly wearable devices, it is essential that gyms recognise the value of customer experience as a differentiator. The industry needs to embrace the evolving customer expectations and offer an enhanced fitness experience.
Tailored advice must trump online ‘self-help’
Personal advice is critical to the overall customer experience, retention and satisfaction. According to Critical Mass’ research 95 per cent of gym members would value getting advice on exercise and appropriate fitness goals to support them on their health journey. Additionally, 89 per cent would like broader wellbeing support from their gym, such as nutritional advice.
However, without this, over half of gym members (58 per cent) are turning to Google for health and fitness advice, highlighting the missed opportunity for gyms to develop deeper personal relationships with their customers.
Integrate wearable technology into the gym experience
The research also reveals the impact of digital experiences and wearable technology on customer expectations. 91 per cent want a custom gym app to help keep track of their progress at all times of the day, not just on the gym floor.
In conjunction, 90 per cent of respondents who currently don’t workout with wearables will consider using them in the future. Therefore, rather than being displaced by technology, gyms have an opportunity to engage with their digital-savvy members with a transparent, accessible and informative experience, both online and offline.
Alistair Millen, Strategy Director, Critical Mass, comments: “Membership should mean more than access to a building and equipment, it should be a supportive partnership for the individual’s fitness journey. Technology has enabled customers to have greater control and access to the services they experience on a daily basis, as and when they want. This should not differ in the gym.”
Millen continues: “Fitness doesn’t stop when a member walks out the door, so neither should the gym experience. Gyms should offer an on-demand, accessible, flexible and reliable model tailored to the individual member. This is Fitness-as-a-Service and if the gyms don’t innovate then this is an industry that is prone to disruption.”