Everywhere you turn today, technology is the hot topic. Consumers, enabled by ever-evolving, sophisticated technology, now possess an increased ability to demand instant and personalized communication and buying experiences. Health clubs are not immune to this change in expectations. Interestingly, the question health clubs are now asking in response to this new normal is changing from ‘Do I need technology?’ to ‘How do I combine technology and my staff to differentiate me from the competition?’
While it may seem odd coming from the Sales Manager of a technology company, it is my strong belief that, while technology is a disruptor that health clubs cannot afford to ignore, it works best when combined with a knowledgeable and committed staff to create the ‘ideal’ member experience. Let’s explore some ideas on why leading clubs are leveraging both technology and their employees to create the best possible experience for their prospects and members.
1. TECHNOLOGY DOESN’T HAVE EMPATHY
Empathy — the ability to share someone’s feelings — is perhaps the most significant trait humans demonstrate that technology cannot fully replace today. Technology does not have the ability to understand your prospects and members as an individual, to empathize with each person’s purpose, unique passions, goals or motivations. Technology will never ask or understand Why? someone wants to live a better, healthier life. It cannot express their opinion or expertise to a person about why they should join your club.
It’s critical that you have your staff take time to build connections and trust with the prospects and members. The role of technology should be to gather and procure information to help grow these relationships. If you think about your staff, how many of them have access to information about their prospects at their fingertips? Putting critical information in their hands at the right time enables best in class engagement.
TEAM MEMBERS SET THE TONE FOR A GREAT EXPERIENCE
Technology is very efficient at matching various data points, analyzing trends, etc., but understanding exactly what individuals perceive as the ideal experience while factoring in key information such as questions, objections, pain points, engagement, and enthusiasm is where your team can shine. To create the best experience, it takes an engaged team member to know how to focus in on the individual’s desires, present a compelling story that matches and be persuasive if necessary. If the initial sales experience is not positive, your chances of getting critical referrals goes down, while the likelihood of attrition increases. Technology should be leveraged to provide important, timely information that allows your sales team to drive a more effective and personalized one to one experience.
TECHNOLOGY IS AN IMPORTANT TOOL TO PROGRESS THE EXPERIENCE
Technology is a tool that can enhance the prospect and member experience by organizing conversations, notes, information, and interactions. Set up properly, technology is great at finding and sorting information and acting on instructions provided by a user. A tool like a CRM helps your staff to understand who to call, when and about what, further driving towards the ideal experience.
Have you ever had to work from paper or excel? It can be very tedious, disorganized and inefficient, often creating inconsistencies which lack structure. A CRM, like InTouch’s Drive, can automate a variety of tasks, including emails, text messages, and calls. It makes follow up structured, faster and more consistent while maintaining that personal touch. By leveraging the information and structure that technology can provide, your staff will bring more value and engagement to your prospects.
4. PASSION IS WHAT DIFFERENTIATES US FROM TECHNOLOGY
As powerful as technology already is, and will continue to be, your best staff are in the industry because of their LOVE and PASSION for fitness and the dedication to your prospects and members. Technology won’t quit and walk out like employees might, but your staff’s dedication to doing their job properly is critical for your success at creating the ideal experience. When your employees are passionate about what they do, they consistently look for better ways to improve themselves, their role and your business. Though technology may not provide your staff with passion or love, it can further promote achieving greater job satisfaction. When properly harnessed, a committed employee leads to a differentiated experience.
5. TECHNOLOGY CANNOT REPLACE A SENSE OF COMMUNITY AND BELONGING
What is technology’s role in creating a sense of community? While more and more clubs are incorporating technology into their community to provide a richer experience, certain barriers exist. Creating a sense of community and belonging in your club is one of the most important differentiators for your business. If your current members feel like they are part of your community, they’ll keep coming back and be more likely to recommend you to co-workers, family, and friends. A strong sense of community makes your club more than just a place people go to work out; it creates a supportive and teamwork-oriented culture. Technology should enhance that feeling.
Technology is now mainstream in the health club, with apps, wearables, and equipment available to be accessed. They bring information to our fingertips and members look to their online networks to share their experiences; good or bad. Embracing these tools will allow you to use them to your advantage. Combining aspects of the human to human engagement with today’s technology will accelerate the future of your club’s community and culture and open new ways to attract more prospects and retain more members.
It’s no secret that technology is changing the consumer landscape as we know it. In order to stay relevant during this time of change, clubs must embrace and leverage technology to improve engagement, community, and culture. By itself, however, that’s not enough. Our industry will continue to rely on people to create and deliver a great experience for prospects and members. Treat your staff as key influencers, not just information hubs. While websites, apps, and social media portals help to collect information, technology should not displace your teams but together create a blended, balanced role in helping to mold and enhance the individual journey of your prospects and members.
QUESTIONS TO ASK Yourself
How is technology affecting your sales and retention today?
How are you leveraging technology to stay relevant online without sacrificing the personal touch of the member experience?
Are you making your team redundant or ineffective by overcompensating with technology?
Are you embracing technology to help sales staff create a more effective sales journey?
What should you rely on technology for and what should be reserved for your team members?
Say hello to InTouch Converse; a direct way to help your team grow relationships and create the ‘ideal’ member experience. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Bart Budyn, Sales Manager
InTouch Technology Inc.