Our Free System for Managing Customer Experience

by Michael Keeler

At Mark Fisher Fitness (MFF) feedback is our greatest currency.

When we foster an open dialogue between our team and our Ninjas (aka clients) our culture and community thrive as a result. With the currency of feedback, you can buy what we all seek in our relationships which is trust.

Giving and receiving candid feedback no only builds trust, it deepens on connection to one another and helps us make continuous improvements to ourselves and the business.

For services companies who are fortunate enough to grow to the size of MFF, it becomes really challenging to track and analyze all the feedback and opinions we receive on a regular basis.

For most companies, there are many disparate methods for collecting feedback. Some feedback gets shared by email, other feedback comes from casual conversations, periodically feedback is gathered through formal surveys, and online review sites are constantly adding to the noise.

With feedback spread among so many different mediums and platforms, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and it’s nearly impossible to identify trends, analyze the data and take meaningful action.

We realized several years ago that if we wanted to truly be excellent at understanding the experience of our Ninjas and take full advantage of every moment of praise and constructive criticism we were going to need a solid system for doing it.

So, in 2016 we created a system called Glows & Grows.

Here’s how it works.

Recording Glows and Grows is everyone’s responsibility. If anyone on the MFF Team sees or hears a piece of feedback it is their responsibility to record it. They record it by simply filling out a quick online form (see a screenshot of our forms here) that every team member can access through our shared intranet.

 

Once the form is submitted, a summary of the feedback is instantly sent by email to the whole MFF Team so everyone can be informed about how we exceeded or missed an Ninja’s expectation.

I’ll pause there. I know that level of transparency can sound a little scary.

Take a deep breath.

You’re not alone. It took us the better part of a year to adapt to that kind of public accountability, and I can guarantee it gets more comfortable over time. More on that later.

Before I get too far along in the process, let’s define a Glow and Grow.

 


A Glow happens when someone on the MFF Team exceeds a Ninja’s expectations or goes above or beyond their job description.

By definition, a Glow is hard to describe because it typically represents a creative, inspired moment that reaches beyond standard expectations.

Here are a few examples of a Glow:

  • A trainer spends extra time with a Ninja after class who is having a particularly tough day to make them feel better and help coach them through a personal issue.
  • A team member surprises a long-time Ninja with a special Birthday gift and a handwritten card from the whole team.
  • A member of the Membership Team proactively offers to freeze a Ninja’s membership when they see on Facebook they just booked a job out of town.

 


A Grow happens when we learn that we have not met a Ninja’s expectations or we do not meet our own standards of excellence.

Grows are recorded to keep track of our opportunities for improvement. Grows are not about assigning blame, but being radically responsible for our individual and collective actions.

Here are a few examples of a Grow:

  • A Ninja does not receive an email response within 24 hours.
  • A Ninja complains that they did not enjoy a class or training session.
  • A Ninja is disappointed that we have run out of towels.
  • A Ninja’s membership freeze gets processed for the wrong dates.

 

Let’s dive back into the process.

You already know that a Glow or Grow get’s recorded and instantly shared with the full MFF Team. What also happens is that report gets dumped into a spreadsheet where it can be tracked and follow-up on by our management team.

At our weekly team meetings, each manager walks through the Glows and Grows from their department from the previous week. As a full team we, take time to celebrate the individuals who are mentioned in the Glows (usually with some MFF-style, cult-like cheering), and the managers share an update on each Grow.

The manager update will include if the Grow is resolved or not. If so, how was it resolved? If not, when will it be resolved?

This is the most important part of this entire process — resolving our Grows (missed expectations) quickly.

Here’s a frightening statistic.

Of the clients who register a complaint, up to 70% will do business with the organization again if their complaint is resolved. That figure goes up to 95% if the complaint is resolved quickly.

Our Glows and Grows system is our first line of defense against losing a client because of a missed expectation or complaint. If we can recognize the dropped ball and resolve it quickly, we stand a 95% chance of keeping that Ninja. That’s pretty cool. 

If you are looking to improve your retention, creating a system to quickly capture and respond to feedback will be your best weapon.

I could talk about this system and why it’s awesome and why it’s hard for at least 10,000 more words. But in the interest of brevity, I’ll share one more point about our Glows and Grows system.

Designing and implementing a process like this does not happen overnight.

Among our biggest challenges were (and continue to be):

  • Getting everyone on the same page about what constitutes and Glow and a Grow.
  • Helping everyone be comfortable with calling out themselves and others in a public forum.
  • Helping everyone see this system as more than just a tool for tattling on each other.
  • Training our management to proactively review and resolve Grows, finding ways to over-deliver when possible.
  • Continuously training ourselves to keep our ears and eyes peeled for moments of feedback.

I truly believe that if you are bold enough to create a system like this in your business, and you stick with it long enough for it to become ingrained in your culture it will pay huge dividends for you and your clients.

The core idea you are selling you team is that this system is a judgement free zone where knowledge is power. The more we know about our clients’ experiences the better equipped we are to get 1% better every day.

If you can genuinely instill that belief in your team than feedback becomes the obvious path to success instead of an obstacle to it.

What questions do you have?

Ask me in the comments below. I’m here to help!

   

Comments

5 Comments

  1. Christina Boccio

    This is a great way to not only build trust within your team, but show that we are all dedicated to getting better together. Can I ask what did you use to create this system of automatic emails and spreadsheets?

    Reply
    • Michael Keeler

      Hey Christina – We use a program called Formstack along with Google Sheets, but you can achieve a very similar result just using Google Forms and Google Sheets. Email me if you need a hand!

      Reply
  2. Jeff Blair

    Hi Michael,

    Great stuff-very Ray Dalio/Andy Groves!

    Under the category of “the customer is not always right,” what systematic process (if any) do you have to distinguish between a reasonable client complaint and one that is unreasonable? Does a manager first review the complaint?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Michael Keeler

      Hey Jeff – Great question. First, our Glows & Glows system does not distinguish between “complaints we agree with” and “complaints we don’t agree with”. Our team is encouraged to record ANY time they see or hear that we missed a client expectation. Once the Grow gets submitted it is up to the assigned manager to follow up with the Ninja (aka client). We approach all complaints as valid and make we do our best to see things from the customer’s perspective – you don’t have to agree or disagree to empathize. When needed, we will share why we can or cannot do something for the customer along with our logic for doing so. We want the customer to feel seen and heard, even if at the end of the day we decide that we can’t give them exactly what they want. Any other questions?

      Reply
      • Jeff Blair

        Thank you Michael

        I always have more questions. 🙂 If the answer to these is proprietary or you don’t want to share for some reason, no worries!

        1. “With feedback spread among so many different mediums and platforms, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and it’s nearly impossible to identify trends, analyze the data and take meaningful action.”

        Is this data then analyzed relative to trends, cumulatively or by some other objective system?

        2. The other question I always have with formal feedback systems is the idea that many (most?) people will not necessarily specifically articulate when/why they are unhappy. Many people will simply leave.

        How do these non-articulated complaints fit into your overall system if they do?

        Maybe part of the answer is you take steps to encourage people to articulate complaints (assuming they have them) or make them understand that voicing a problem is really a favor for the business because it provides you the chance to address it.

        Is encouraging people to voice a complaint contemplated in the process?

        And then once you address a problem, is that resolution made available to the other members through some communcation system (centrol bulletin board, email service, etc….as Whole Foods used to do..maybe still does?)

        Reply

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