This article was written by Bryce Bradford, Onboarding Specialist at Upper Hand.
Have you ever been to a local restaurant or store and had an employee greet you at the door with a smile and great energy? How about in the middle of your visit when they asked there was anything they could help you with? How did you feel when you were thanked for being a great customer and enthusiastically invited to come back?
Now think about the times you went somewhere and were not greeted with the same level of energy, or even at all. Both of these interactions leave a lasting impression of your business with the customer going forward; but making the difference between them is vital to the continued growth and success of your sports business.
Just like the experience of going to that local restaurant or store, the people who decide to be customers of your sports business are there for a great experience as well as your expertise. Here’s a short list of things you can do to ensure that customer stays and keeps coming back for more of that experience:
The importance of customer interactions starts with the business owner
Whether you are an independent business owner or have a group of employees working under you, it is important to understand that the business owner sets the tone for working with clients and should be a prime example to anyone who works under them. For an independent business owner, the client experience rests solely on your shoulders. It is important that every potential client has easy access to you to and to the experience of signing up for your various offerings.
For those who are sports business owners and have a team working under you, it is important to understand that you are the example for your team. Having a “do as I do” mentality and consistent action will always lead your employees to soak up your methods and expectations for every customer interaction. Doing small things like greeting customers by name, mentioning a previous conversation, and inviting them to come back are seen as that example to your staff and will set the overall tone and identity of your business.
Use role play to train and re-train your team on customer interactions
When a business owner is onboarding new members of the team, it is vital that they have a clear understanding and example of how your business greets its customers. This sets the tone from the very start of their tenure of the energy that your business is expected to showcase. It is also human nature for more tenured staff to become complacent or even to just have off-days while at work.
Getting the team together on a regular basis to practice different scenarios, both simple and extreme, through team role play will consistently remind your team how these scenarios can and do impact your customers in even the smallest ways. Remember: each time you interact with a customer, your team is leaving them with a “business card” of what your business represents; make sure it is a professional and good-looking business card instead of one that is wrinkled, torn, and written in pencil.
Keep regular communication with your customers when not in-person
It is no secret that your customers will not always be with you in person, so it is important to make sure that you are able to keep in contact with them so that your business will remain in their minds. Having ways to engage with customers outside of in-person allows people to think about their previous experience with you and look forward to the next one. Send a message out to your customers individually or in a group to say how great the last session was or send out mass email invitations to your clients to invite them to a new event that you are launching, such as a new camp. Send out a personalized message to your clients once every couple of months just to say thank you for being a customer of your sports business.
Always find ways to improve your customer interactions
I previously mentioned that longer tenured staff can become complacent; this is also true of the longer tenured practices of the business. Many businesses believe that they are doing everything perfectly and their customers are completely happy with their experiences and as a result could potentially become stagnant by never trying new ways to reach and connect with new and existing customers.
One thing you can do is, hear from your customers. Send out surveys to gauge the experiences of your own customers to find out directly from the source how the business looks to them and encourage them to suggest ways of how you can make improvements.
A second suggestion for you: survey your team! Your team should be seen as an excellent source for suggestions of ways to improve your customer interactions and experiences.
Take those suggestions and find different ways to switch up the methods in which your customers feel appreciated. No matter what the approach, it is important to keep methods of communication and interaction feeling fresh in order for your business to maintain high customer satisfaction and retention.
Putting it all together
These are just a few suggestions of what you can do to keep customer interactions high and positive; but truly the possibilities are limitless. Ultimately, our customers are the most important piece of our business, one can argue even more so than the sports knowledge and expertise they are signing up to gain. Because without the consistent and positive customer experience, your sports knowledge will not continue to reach them. But with that positive experience, they will constantly want to keep their business with you. They are “choosing” to spend their money and their time working with your sports business and it is your responsibility to consistently let each of them know that you appreciate them for being there.