Global Gym Chain: Why attrition rates don’t correlate with NPS (and what you do when that happens)

Reducing churn with text analytics

The Head of Customer Experience at a global gym chain was conducting twice yearly ‘deep dives’ of lengthy surveys, emailed to members. They noticed something unusual: attrition rates at individual clubs didn’t correspond to the members’ NPS scores for those clubs. Instead of adding more questions to the survey, they asked us to conduct an analysis of the members’ existing freeform text responses and explain what was going on.

A members’ club, even a gym, is about the human interaction, not the infrastructure

We were able to quickly spot a fundamental driver of satisfaction (and dissatisfaction): the welcome at reception.

Until this point, the team had assumed that it was the infrastructure which was the most important feature of a club, and they had been questioning members about the investment in these areas in the surveys. However, our text analytics showed that members who gave their club a high NPS score most often talked about the ‘welcoming experience’ at reception.

The Head of Customer Experience at this point, and with a Board presentation looming, asked a very good question: what defines a ‘welcoming’ experience. We dived back into the text analytics and conducted a linguistic interpretation of the themes and verbatims of the most highly scoring gym goers.

Why ‘Hi’ and ‘Bye’ isn’t what counts at reception

Until now, reception staff had been trained to acknowledge members on their way in and way out. To understand what was really driving a ‘welcoming’ experience at reception, we used research methods from our  linguistics researchers.

We discovered that a ‘Welcoming’ experience depends on a simple change in attitude by the reception staff: they had to assume (and act in advance) as though that person coming into the gym was a member. Where the reception staff weren’t perceived as ‘Welcoming’ (and consequently NPS scores were lower), the staff team were making people ‘prove’ they were members by reserving their greeting until the person had swiped in. Where there were higher NPS scores, people were welcomed before they had swiped in.

They’re not insights until they’re actionable

A simple education program led to a quick change in behaviour and more delighted members. Interestingly, it led to more delighted reception staff as well, as they felt they were freed to be friendlier.

Better than we can say it

NPS scores have increased in those clubs where the small change in welcoming procedure has already been adopted.