women doing push ups and high fiving

4 Tips On Improving Customer Satisfaction in Fitness

Jason Bacaj | 4 min read

If you’re in the fitness industry, you’d have to really hate success to ignore all the ways you could boost customer satisfaction.

After all, securing a new customer is more expensive than keeping an existing one, regardless of industry. An overview by the Harvard Business Review says that acquiring new customers costs “anywhere from five to 25 times” more. The same HBR piece cites research that says better customer retention—even just 5% better—can grow profits by 25%, possibly 95%, which starts with customer satisfaction.

While that last figure seems a touch outlandish (particularly because the research hyperlinked by HBR only claims “more than a 25% increase in profit”), the general point stands. The business case for putting effort toward customer satisfaction is well established.

And it’s especially important now that the fitness industry is more crowded than ever. According to Crunchbase, by the end of last year the top 10 most funded fitness startups had raised more than $1.6 billion. There’s a plethora of competitors and startups and studios. Even some that don’t need a physical location, just meeting up in parks and the like.

We took a quick dive into the research and found four actionable tips that you can put into place in your organization. Check it out, try it out, and let us know how it went.

Set Expectations

We’ve all heard the joke about keeping expectations low in order to easily meet and exceed them. Whether low or high, it helps to purposefully establish a baseline set of expectations. If your organization is a high-end boutique fitness company, by all means set them super high. The sweet spot here is setting expectations for both customers and employees. If everyone is on the same page, that helps.

There are a few angles you can take to approach this. One is through brand story. Consistent messaging, as one might expect, is key. Is your brand built around a niche activity or sport? A community? The relationship between mind and body? What’s the value and why’s your organization providing it?

People absorbing the brand story should have an expectation of service level, or at least whether they’re walking into a dive bar or Michelin Star situation. 

Another angle is more tangible one: face-to-face interactions. First impressions matter, so keep that in mind. It also helps to practice active listening, too. Active listening is more than being quiet and nodding—think of it as a cooperative conversation that involves asking good questions and conveying that you value what the speaker is saying.

Make Membership Easy

A big chunk of this section is what most people would call the standard business stuff. If someone wants to access their account to make a payment, adjust a schedule, and so on and so forth, they shouldn’t have to think through each step every time.

Of course, a membership is more than a transaction. But it’s still quantifiable in some ways. One benchmark you can set is a Net Promoter Score, which basically entails surveying members and seeing how many would recommend the membership to someone else. This is something we do at Wisetail to get a sense of how employees feel.

Another piece is making membership an easy decision. Maybe this is done through community building and hosting events or partnering with nonprofits, or maybe it’s through high-end service and exclusivity.

Wisetail LMS for franchise helps fitness companies succeed.

Incentivize Outcomes

Incentives should tie in with your organization’s culture and brand story. One of the best examples of this we found came from a 2013 white paper published by the Society for Human Resource Management.

An independent bookseller in Texas, BookPeople, had relatively minor incentives, which the CEO acknowledged. The incentives were paid trips to industry events, where employees could meet with publishers and authors, keep up on genre trends, and network. Regardless, he was adamant that it worked because the emphasis was always on knowledge acquisition. He saw knowledge acquisition as the central pillar of the culture at BookPeople.

The takeaway from the white paper is that incentives are more effective when connected to higher value training or development. It also helps to involve employees in the process of picking the perqs, and to keep the incentives short and simple whenever possible.

Own the Issues

A big part of this piece is empowering employees to handle issues when they can. The extra efforts resulted in grateful and appreciative customers whose experience will likely resonate with people the customers interact with going forward.

Wisetail LMS content creator, Jason Bacaj.


Jason is a content creator with Wisetail. Through research and interviews, he works to help L&D pros grow the breadth of their knowledge. He’s a recovering journalist fascinated with learning.