Outstanding Customer Experience

Senior Managers' Update

Insight is nothing without improvement and 2019 is the year which proves that what’s top of our customers’ lists is at the top of ours. We have launched a new booking system which is easier to use and with ‘rules’ directly shaped by customer feedback; we even changed the 4-hour late cancellation policy to 2 hours using your feedback and our surveys.

There will be a new look to Places Locker and we are simplifying our memberships to make us more competitive and a little easier to understand.  Members who tell us they are new to the gym, classes or swimming are the least likely to recommend us, which tells us that to truly achieve our mission we need products and propositions for those that are new to activity. We will launch our newcomer products, called Into: Active, so that we really support those moving from inactivity into activity, at the same time respecting a pace that our customers are comfortable with.

Within Places Pulse, we have a measure that recognises our very best team members and gives coaching material that helps you be the very best you can be. Our busiest month was also our best, January 2019 saw us set a record of 71.7%, with 81% of shoppers saying that based on service alone they would have purchased.  The sector only gets more competitive, offering customers more choice than ever before, so customer experience is a huge opportunity for us to differentiate ourselves, and showcase what makes us, well, us.

We have had a great response to the new customer surveys, with a response rate of well over 10% of all recent visitors. If you group together their membership payments that’s about £2m worth of opinion and it represents what customers are telling friends, family and colleagues about us.  We are now able to share customer data with our suppliers and to shape key projects. Of course, you also get a larger volume and richer site feedback specific to the customer’s membership type and activity preferences.  You will also read literally thousands of thanks – so enjoy them, you and the team work hard for moments like these. 2019 will see this become more regular; businesses measure all their important stuff daily and customer experience is no different.


2019 will see us remove the paper suggestion boxes and give every single visitor an opportunity to feedback. This is just a glimpse of that technology; let’s give customers reasons to choose the smiley face!

We will even introduce a Customer Panel. Don’t worry this doesn’t create any more work for you, this just gives all our customers a chance to get involved in an online forum, so we can get their views before we launch or change anything. It’s perfect for our community ethos; think of it as a community and an insurance policy all in one.



Credit for this next bright idea belongs to the South East Marketing team (Kirsty, Clare, Sarah, Ami, Kerry, Charlene and Michelle) who are taking customer involvement to the next level – by asking the children! It’s lead capture but not as you know it. We will tell you more about Mini Critics soon… cute but you don’t want to upset them 😊

Acquiring and retaining customers is easier when:

  • We spend time really understanding them and the more we connect their goals to the right product for them, the more likely they will become a member.
  • We provide flexible products that suit their needs and when we deliver this, we are rewarded with their loyalty.
  • We support them, especially our fitness teams, wellbeing teams and instructors. They are what helps them learn, achieve more and stay with us longer.
  • We let customers know about the benefits that are available – we and the customer always win, EVEN if they choose not to use them.
  • We acknowledge that our customers’ time is precious. An outstanding welcome is the best thank you of all for those spending their time in our centres.
  • We lead with empathy and flexibility should something go wrong (focusing on what we can do) rather than reciting how well we know our own Ts and Cs. Be kind and be fair, and if you spot an opportunity to be either and you aren’t sure, just ask someone.

We are lucky to have many outstanding team members that embrace the above. Keep an eye out for our End of Year Film – you will see a few colleagues telling you about the part they play in ‘creating active places and healthy people’. They appear because our customers have told us just how outstanding they really are!