A dissatisfied customer doesn’t always translate into lost business. Lora Hinchcliff, associate director in charge of team building at Cooper Fitness Center, cites research showing that 95 percent of customers who register a complaint with a business will return as customers if their complaints are resolved quickly. With that in mind, folks at the Cooper Fitness Center have devised a program that ensures members are contacted within 24 hours of dropping a response card in the suggestion box.

“The best thing a company can do is to make it easy for the customer to complain, and then respond constructively to the complaint,” Hinchcliff says. Strategically placed customer critique cards at the check-in desk and in locker rooms invite comments, good and bad, from members.

The suggestion box is checked twice daily and if members choose to include their names, they are contacted within the next day. It is the design of the comment cards, however, that sets the stage for showing the staff is serious about seeking feedback, she adds. The two-color cards on heavy stock paper establish a professional approach.

The Member Communication Program gives the customers a voice and, since its inception last year, has provided the staff with invaluable information for designing new programs and facilities. Responses continue to file in, Hinchcliff says, leading her to believe the center’s successful member retention ratio can be at least partially credited to the program. Customers who feel they play a role in improving their fitness facility will stick around. “The Member Communication Program has improved customer relations with our members, emphasizing that we care,” she says.

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