“Gentlemen we will chase perfection, and we shall chase it relentlessly knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way, we will catch excellence.” - Vince Lombardi
Lombardi’s quote is the essence of operational customer experience management (OCEM). If you seek excellence, chase perfection. If you only chase excellence, you might get to the upper end of mediocre. If you want differentiation, then be different. Chase perfection.
The race is on, and the tools and know-how are there for you to be a frontrunner. One just has to have the courage and the relentlessness to differentiate.
I have been lucky enough to be at the intersection of operational customer experience management frontrunners, health club operations and an obsession with customer loyalty. At Club Works, our mission is to incite a movement in the fitness industry. We see this movement as a group of like-minded operators armed with the technology and the shared learning to create loyal lifelong fans and exercisers of their customers. We see a world when the “believers” have greatly separated themselves from the rest of the industry. They will share more information, see more trends and have far greater insights into how the customer thinks and feels. They all will have made excellence a habit.
What are your organizations current habits? Well, it is called “operations.” “Operations” in organizations is the moral equivalent of an individual’s habits.
Bob gets up at 6:00 a.m. every workday. He showers, has a piece of toast and coffee, and goes out the door at 7:00 a.m. He arrives to work a little early and falls into a routine including checking email, taking breaks, going to lunch and leaving for home. Once home, the habits continue. Catch up on the day. Play with kids. Glass of wine. News. Dinner. TV. Bed. That is Bob’s daily “operations.” Want to change those operations? Not so easy. These habits are pretty ingrained. This is Bob’s “operations.”
Your company has existing habits. Just measuring the customer experience and closing the loop with each customer won’t change your operations. You need to change your company’s habits.
Medallia’s OCEM framework is a great model for organizations to use to change their habits to improve customer loyalty. The framework has four main segments:
- See yourself as the customer sees you
- Wire customer feedback into every decision
- Drive accountability throughout the organization
- Test new ideas to see what you can scale
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
I see a threshold that needs to be overcome for most health club operators—large or small. As companies get started with a great OCEM system, they are usually surprised by how powerful the feedback can be. They begin their closed loop process and find individual issues to resolve. Great. Time to move past the first stage.
See how many of these questions you can answer “yes” to.
- Do you make sure that all member feedback gets a response?
- Does this happen within 24-48 hours?
- Is there more than one person at a location responsible?
- Are responses relevant and thoughtful (i.e. not just sending templates)?
- Does each and every staff meeting (whether GMs or departmental) start with a report on the customer experience and some comments from members?
- Does every team know the score for the touch points they own and how they rank with other touch points?
- Are those scores constantly communicated (at least weekly)?
- When making decisions (whether they are tactical or strategic), do you use the customer viewpoint to inform those decisions?
- Do you constantly redesign business processes and policies with the purpose of improving the member experience?
- Do you know which touch points matter the most to your members?
One observation as companies become more and more operational with their customer feedback is that the activities that add the most value, such as using feedback to inform all decisions and redesigning policies and processes, don’t take any more time than companies already spend. They already make decisions on tactical and strategic levels. Using the customer data will just better inform those decisions. They already redesign policies and processes—just not with the thought of making them a great experience for the customer.
So many clubs have made customer experience management a hobby. Operational customer experience management is the domain of pros. Time to move to the next level.
Blair McHaney is a teacher, student and practitioner of operational customer experience management (OCEM). He spent two and a half years at Medallia as vice president of strategic initiatives. He is currently president of MXM, a Medallia partner company specializing in OCEM for the fitness industry. McHaney also is president of Confluence Fitness Partners Inc., operating health clubs in Central Washington since 1983.