In Stephen Covey’s hugely popular business self-help book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey illuminates a few concepts that apply to negotiating complaints from customers that translate well over to gym franchises. In his book, Covey talks about the importance of being proactive, thinking in a win-win way, and seeking to understand before needing to be understood by your audience. These business skills are easily transferable to conflict resolution with your gym members.
How to Smoothly Handle Inevitable Member Complaints
The first thing that experienced business owners, entrepreneurs, and franchisors tend to talk about when it comes to smooth, timely conflict resolutions at gym franchises is listening and understanding, which has parallels with Covey’s advice about seeking to understand before getting your own point across. When you’re running a gym, the opportunities for conflict to arise—and the chances that you’ll have to put your people skills to the test—are many. Gym members can feel disappointed and irritated from time to time for reasons that might be out of your control.
View Conflict Resolution as an Opportunity for Gym Franchises
That said, smoothly fielding customer complaints can be an opportunity to grow closer to your gym members, although many gym franchisees don’t think of member complaints as a learning or constructive experience. The key thing to remember is that you’re there to give your members the best service you can and to optimize their experience. Show genuine empathy for their concerns and do some proactive listening: Even though it might be frustrating, try not to interrupt customers as they express their concerns. Give all your attention to the conversation and ask clarifying questions if you’re not sure what customers are upset about.
Employ Active Listening with Your Members
Some gym owners have a tendency to sweep conflict under the rug or to view customer complaints as an adversarial test of wills. Neither of these is ideal. You want employ active listening and offer a solutions orientation to your customers when they present a complaint. These things obviously go hand in hand: To find an ideal solution for your customers’ issues, you first need to get a good feel for what those issues are. That’s where an open mind, active listening, empathy, and clarifying questions come in. Another issue is that we sometimes focus on what we can’t do for members rather than what’s in our control. As in, “I wish I could redeem that expired gift card, but I just can’t” or “You have to come in by X time to receive that rate.” Instead of posing barriers for your members, focus on how you can help solve their issues and, of course, follow up in the weeks and months that ensue to find out if their issues are being adequately addressed or if any new issues crop up.
Logistics of Handling Member Complaints
It’s important that you head off member complaints early because complaints have a way of snowballing and potentially sullying your reputation and leading to the wrong kind of word of mouth. Handling member complains in person is obviously the ideal since it allows you to be personable and resolve the issue on the spot. That’s for one-on-one stuff, but you might be better served fielding a host of complaints with a series of social media posts in which you lay out the changes. In this case, still be clear, specific, responsive, and personable. To find out more about how to turn customers’ complaints into better traction for your business, visit Tapout Fitness’s website today!