Excellence is a Habit

3 Exercises to Fine Tune Your Team’s Customer Service Skills

 

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” [Aristotle]

I’ve written several times on this blog about the importance of having world-class customer service in your fitness business. And yes, I’m writing about it again.

It’s THAT important.

As business leaders and managers, most of us only talk about customer service with our teams once or twice a year. Maybe we teach our teams a few customer service standards during a team meeting, then get frustrated six months later when they aren’t meeting those standards.

That’s super frustrating, and there is a better way.

Here’s the thing. If you want your team to provide consistent, world-class customer service you must talk about it and practice it all. the. time. Repetition is the mother of all mastery. 

To help you and your team keep customer service at the center of your team meetings and conversations, I’m stoked to share three great exercises that include real-life workplace scenarios, skill-sharpening questions, and personal challenges that will help you make service excellence a permanent habit.

Use the exercises as you see fit. Try one — try them all.

Revisit these exercises every few weeks to hone your skills and find new connections with the material. As you and your team grow and change, so too will your relationship with serving your clients. Keeping sharpening your collective customer service skills to ensure you are the best part of your clients day — every day.

 

Exercise #1: Building Beautiful Boundaries

One of our main goals at MFF is to create the most open, accepting, and inclusive fitness environment the world has ever seen — #dreambig. Yet, even a Ninja Clubhouse of Glory and Dreams must have a few rules and boundaries. Consider the following two scenarios and role play them with your team members.

What would you do? Act that shit out — make it real.

I know role-playing can feel silly at times, but resist the urge to make it a big joke. Treat your role-plays like the real thing and you’ll learn inefficiently more from the experience.

Role-play these scenarios (or make your own):

Fitness Ninja Scenario: You are only half way through a training session when your next trainee(s) starts to funnel in for foam rolling and warm ups. How do you greet your next trainee(s) while also establishing a boundary that you are not ready to give them your attention yet? How do you ensure that your current trainees don’t feel short changed or ignored? What do you say to each person that creates clear expectations?

Front Desk Scenario: It’s 6:28 pm and the 6:30 pm Group Fitness class is SOLD OUT with a huge wait-list. People are signing in feverishly and rushing to class to claim a spot. The class is about to begin and there are two Ninjas (clients) standing outside the classroom. They both registered weeks in advance and should have a spot, but there are none left. What do you do?

When the role-play is over, have a group conversation about:

  • What is stake for all parties?
  • What is the consequence of not creating the boundary?
  • What are the commonalities among each team member’s approach to these scenarios?

 

Exercise #2: “Everyone We Meet is Our Teacher and Our Student”

Take a moment to truly consider that quote — “Everyone We Meet is Our Teacher and Our Student.” Really take it in. Everyone you meet has something to teach you and something they can learn from you.

Now think about one person in your life that you absolutely can’t stand (there may be more than one, but just pick one for now). This person makes your toes curl at just the thought of him or her.

How does this statement apply to them? If this person is both your teacher and your student, what are you teaching him or her? What is there to learn from him or her?

Try this:

Keeping that person in mind grab a piece of paper and a pen (No, not your laptop — actual paper and a pen). Now set your phone timer for five minutes and write that person a letter. Tell that person, who you absolutely cannot tolerate, what you hope they have learned from you, and (this is the harder part) what you have learned — or hope to learn — from them.

Try not to create backhanded complements like “I learned how not to be jerk from you”, but genuinely consider what lesson this person was brought into your life to teach you. Share the lesson honestly and express gratitude for the role that lesson might play in your life.

When you’re done writing the letter:

You don’t have to send the letter, but keep it. Let it serve as a reminder that even those individuals that push our buttons and challenge our limits have something to teach us.

Often times our greatest customer service opportunities are when clients are angry and disappointed with something we’ve done, or not done. It’s easy to immediately feel defensive and hurt in those moments. But if we can practice empathy and kindness in these moments we stand a better chance of turning that moment of missed expectations into a moment of mutual respect and connectedness.

Keep listening to your clients — even those you disagree with — and you might be surprised what lessons are waiting for you in the most unusual places.

 

Exercise #3: Asking for Help

“What We Do Together Makes a Difference.” This is the tagline for charity we support at MFF, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and it’s so true. The work we do together is always greater than the work of any singular person. While we all know the power of teamwork, sometimes leaning on your teammates is hard.

We hesitate to ask for help because we don’t want to appear weak or incapable, because we want to do our part and not be a burden on those around us. Given that most people who work at MFF are hardworking, self-motivated individuals it makes perfect sense.

This exercise asks the questions:

  • When is asking for help the best choice?
  • How do you know when you need extra support?
  • What is the cost of trying to taking on too much?

Try This:

Let’s make a list. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and make two columns. Title column one “The last 5 times I felt overwhelmed.” Title column two “The last 5 times I asked for help.” Take 5 minutes to complete your lists. Go!


When you’re done, have a group conversation about:

  • Does anything in column one relate to column two?
  • When you were overwhelmed what was the cost of not seeking help?
  • If you did seek help, what was the benefit? How did you know you needed support?
  • When you asked for help, how did it feel? How did you know who to ask?

 

Got a question or idea about customer service? Share that shit below!

Or feel free to email me directly — michael(at)markfisherfitness.com.

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10 thoughts on “Excellence is a Habit

  1. Love the exercises. Do you have any suggestions for those of us that are flying solo. Obviously all above applies and one needs to make sure they can answer these questions.

    Thanks for all you do!

    1. Hey James! Great question. If you’re flying solo I have two suggestions. 1. Find a “get better buddy” to have these conversations with — a fit pro peer in your area who is also committed to excellence. 2. Ask a few of your best clients to be meet with you periodically for lunch (you pay) and ask them key questions about your services. It will be crucial that you encourage them to share openly (the good and the bad) because their impulse will be to avoid hurting your feelings. Hope that helps!

  2. Great post Michael and thanks…great exercises.

    One question..under the “if you can track it, you can improve it” category:

    Do you have any tracking or data that allows MFF to track and measure (and hence improve) customer service?

    Thanks for any insight.

    1. Hey Jeff – I’m so glad you asked. I’m actually working on a new article now that addresses this very questions. We have a system at MFF called GLOWS & GROWS in which we track every time we exceed and miss our Ninjas’ expectations. It’s a simple online form that the team fills out when they witness a glowing act of stellar customer service or and opportunity for growth. I’ll be sharing more about this in my next post…. stay tuned 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comment Dawn! I’m so glad James asked that question. Don’t be shy – I’m always happy to help 🙂

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