Is member experience becoming lost to the technology innovation wave in the fitness industry? Dr. Paul Bedford thinks so.
In his May 3rd newsletter delivered via email, Dr. Bedford’s article The other SaaS Model – Software as a Solution outlined a number of key points club operators can use to “truly maximize the software” they use to support their member experience programs. Dr. Bedford pointed to key performance indicators (KPIs), staffing and management of new solutions and staff training as areas that software players need to better address. He also touched on a dilemma every club will face.
Here’s Dr. Bedford’s big caveat:
“While this extra support can produce extraordinary results when implemented well, some lay dormant, costing money and producing nothing. It’s at this stage that the software is accused of not being effective, when it may well be a lack of operator focus that’s the issue.”
The dilemma we’re facing is actually two-fold and isn’t limited to just club operators. In fact, the explosion of new software offerings is creating a new ecosystem of member management software and with it new problems for both club operators and members.
The problem isn’t new.
The technology industry has a name for user-related challenges with using technology: PEBCAK. PEBCAK is defined as the “problem exists between the chair and the keyboard.”
I think these user challenges are part of a much larger digital knowledge gap. A digital gap IHRSA is actively working to address. Many of the hurdles to successful technology adoption Dr. Bedford has highlighted fall into two categories: 1) training and education on how to operate the software and, 2) “a clear understanding of what specifically they want the software to do.”
One reality we need to keep in mind in the digital club era that software isn’t intended to do everything. The challenge for club operators is how to pair new physical tracking devices and software with their club management software to enhance their member experience.
One training solution Motionsoft is just beginning to role out is based on an analysis of how our customers are using our club management software. It started by asking ourselves a simple question: are our customer getting the most value out from our software solutions? The answer was a resounding no. Over the next few months, we’ll be holding individual and group training session on using core features that help our customer grow and sustain their businesses. It’s one way we are trying to manage our own “members” experience.
Digital skills, training and member experience management is a topic Dr. Bedford is likely to address at the year’s upcoming Motionsoft Technology Summit.
If you haven’t signed up for Dr. Bedford’s email newsletter, you can learn more by visiting his site.
Dr. Bedford’s original article is provided below.
The other SaaS Model – Software as a Solution
The last five years has seen a proliferation of membership software systems, with cloud-based systems gaining ground. We’ve also seen an increase in software solutions such as personalised exercise data, nutritional coaching, virtual personal training platforms and staff-to-member engagement systems.
While this extra support can produce extraordinary results when implemented well, some lay dormant, costing money and producing nothing. It’s at this stage that the software is accused of not being effective, when it may well be a lack of operator focus that’s the issue.
For example, whilst CV equipment has become more sophisticated, most operators haven’t considered adapting the induction process to incorporate these advances. Apps, websites and wearables provide additional information to all parties, but also require explaining and teaching to maximise their effectiveness. It appears that very little time is given to training staff or even update training with each new iteration of the software, app or wearable.
When developing member experience programs for operators, I have pride in my ability to maximise the software solutions operators already have, rather than just recommending a new software solution, and, over time, I’ve realised that all too frequently operators have bought software on the promise all their problems will go away. By now many have realised this just isn’t so and that to truly maximise the software there must be a clear set of key performance indicators to keep front-line staff and managers focused on their objective.
Club management software developers continue to add features, irrespective of whether they contribute to the experience of the member, the actions of the staff or the profitability of the business. Many software systems have now become more complex than is required to deliver the services.
So operators need a clear understanding of what specifically they want the software to do. They also need to understand how it will do that and what level of day-to-day management is needed to ensure staff are using the applications in the most efficient way.
Companhia Athletica, Sao Paulo
As the industry continues to integrate technology and newer business practices,
performance management of group exercise teachers, gym staff, personal trainers and managers will become the norm, and taking advantage of advancements in predictive analytics and artificial intelligence will place staff under even more scrutiny, requiring them to prove their worth and identify what they actually contribute to the member experience.
Would you like to learn more about the challenges and benefits of going digital?
Then you’d do well to attend the Retention Convention on 19-20th May, where Tiffeny Gould, formerly from SLM/Everyone Active, will discuss what works and what doesn’t as she describes how to use digital intervention to support your retention strategy and member experience.