LO2 of Unit 2 – Understand customer engagement in a gym environment

Understand customer engagement in a gym environment

Learning outcomes
By the end of this section, you will be able to:

2.1 Describe different methods to engage with customers

2.2 Describe different methods to build rapport to maximise the customer experience and retention

2.3 Describe ways to support a safe and enjoyable fitness environment

2.4 List ways to present oneself in a professional and approachable manner

2.5 Identify different types of customer conflict and how to manage them

2.6 Describe the importance of customer retention

Different methods to engage with customers

What is customer engagement?

Customer engagement is the interaction between the customer and the company and the company’s brand. Interactions provide opportunities to share experiences, gain feedback, strengthen brand values and consolidate relationships. A good customer engagement strategy fosters brand growth and encourages customer loyalty.

There are many methods or channels to engage with customers. Social media, a website blog or vlog, are but a few examples providing customers access to information and at the same time help strengthen the customer, company bond.

Customer engagement strategy benefits:

  • Creates a deep, personal relationship with the brand
  • Customers feel appreciated and valued rather than a take your money and run approach
  • Encourage repeat business and word of mouth

Customer engagement tools

There are several ways — many of which are already at a business owner’s disposal – to boost customer engagement.

These methods include:

  • Live chat: Live website chat can be an excellent tool for reaching out to customers. When customers visit your website, have a chat box appear, inviting customers to chat with a service representative. Once the conversation starts, the opportunity is there to build trust and rapport. Live chat is great because it’s in real-time.
  • Social networks: As mentioned previously, social media is a superb customer engagement tool. An excellent social media presence keeps you relevant and connected to your audience in the here and now. Set up discussion forums and FAQ pages. Allow members to post queries either through direct message or on community boards and to answer their questions. Have a conversation with the member and personalise your support to suit their requirements.
  • Messaging platforms: Apps like Facebook Messenger, and even SMS messaging, are great investments, as they ensure that your customers can reach you if they need assistance.
  • Chatbots: Chatbots offer guidance when a human customer service representative cannot. Offering a chatbot will increase your professionalism and show customers you value their time and concerns.
  • Create a Community –All members have an innate desire to belong to a group, as it creates a close-knit gym community where members feel a sense of belonging, part of a tribe.
  • Build Group Exercise Programs- Group exercise programs help connect like-minded people and create a sense of community.
  • The relationship between you and the client continues outside of the gym, whether on social media, group conservations or a Facebook group. Contact members via email, phone calls, and social media to stay in touch and update members with offers, events, and news.
  • Get Feedback – Encourage regular feedback from your members, whether it’s verbally through face-to-face interviews or an email survey. Feedback provides insight into the mind of your customers.
  • Email: Email is essential for both marketing purposes and customer service concerns.

Different methods to build rapport to maximise the customer experience and retention

What is rapport?

Rapport is a relationship built by mutual understanding and trust. In fitness, rapport is the connection a fitness professional and a client or participant seek to establish during their time working together.

Rapport involves forming a close connection with a person. It is an authentic expression of acceptance without personal bias (Rogers, 1995). Fitness professionals who create rapport with their clients help shape a relationship of mutual respect and honesty.

Effective customer service is essential as it impacts the customers, staff, and reputation of any facility. A good reputation for excellent customer service can be invaluable. The key to having a successful fitness facility is loyal customers who come back time after time and spread your good reputation by word of mouth.

Effective customer service impacts the staff who work within the organisation, the customers who visit it, and the business itself. It will improve your reputation and standing within an organisation:

  • It will increase the number of clients and bookings.
  • Clients and individuals will be more likely to recommend you to colleagues
  • It will help gym members adhere to their goals, training plan and help with changes in their health-related behaviours.
  • Work will be more enjoyable when you have good relationships with the people around you.
  • It will help develop and advance your career and open up new opportunities
  • It will help manage workplace conflict and difficult situations
  • It will breed collaboration, synergy, and cooperation with others


An issue with fitness professionals’ ability to communicate effectively and appropriately with special population groups within the fitness facility is a significant barrier to delivering quality health and fitness programmes. The information below provides communication rapport building strategies to increase your comfort level, communication and rapport building skills.

How to build rapport with Disabled Clients

  • Talk to persons with disabilities in the same way and with a normal tone of voice (not shouting) as you would talk to anyone else.
  • Avoid being self-conscious about using wording such as “Do you see what I mean?” when talking to someone with vision impairment.
  • Talk to people with disabilities as adults and talk to them directly rather than to an accompanying person.
  • Ask the person with a disability if assistance is needed; do not assume that help is needed until you ask.
  • Use “people-first language”: refer to “a person with a disability” rather than “the disabled person” or “the disabled”.
  • When communicating with a person with a disability, it is essential to ensure that effective communication strategies are used. Communication strategies include changing body position to make appropriate eye contact, such as sitting or standing.

How to build rapport with Antenatal and Postnatal Clients

  • Welcome the woman and ask her to sit near you and to face you.
  • Smile and make good eye contact with her.
  • Reassure her that you will always maintain her privacy and confidentiality
  • Without her permission, do not include a third person in the meeting.
  • Use simple language and terminologies throughout that she can understand and check frequently that she has understood.
  • Actively listen to her, using gestures and verbal communication to show her that you are paying attention to what she says.
  • Encourage her to ask questions, express her needs and concerns, and seek clarification of any information that she does not understand.
  • Ideally, she should talk for about two-thirds of the time, and you talk for only one-third. Research has shown that health professionals often talk too much and do not allow enough time for the client to express their views and needs.

How to build rapport with Young People (14-16)

  • Meet and greet youth daily by name at the door to make a personal connection. “Hi Jonny, good to see you today. How did your math test go?” “Jordan, hello. I saw you playing outside earlier. It looked like you were having fun!”
  • Talk with youth at their level, both physically and developmentally, to convey respect. You may need to change your body position to bring your eyes to the same level as the child. A 7-year-old has different developmental needs than a 12-year-old.
  • Ask open-ended questions and listen to learn more about where youth are coming from and their backgrounds, interests, and feelings. “How did that make you feel?” “What was that like?
  • Encourage youth by asking questions and providing specific comments to convey interest in what the youth is saying. “What happened next?” “How did you come up with your idea?”
  • Reflect or paraphrase during conversations with youth to show that you are listening and that you understand. “So, you feel that …”
  • Watch for communication roadblocks such as lecturing, judging, and preaching to ensure that you keep doors open for dialogue.
  • Remember context and details from past conversations and experiences with students to show that you are paying attention and interested in their lives. “How did the baseball game go last weekend?” “I know that you had a test today. How do you think it went?” “We have string cheese with our snack today. I remember a couple of weeks ago you told me it was your favourite.”
  • Participate alongside youth to show that you are interested and model risk-taking, planning, and reflecting. “How do you think we should prepare?” “How would you like to start?” “What did you think of that activity?” “What should we do differently next time?”
  • Support opportunities for youth input, shared responsibility, and leadership to help youth develop positive self-efficacy and essential life skills. “Your ideas on how we should approach this are important. What do you think we should do?” “How would you feel about leading the group meeting tomorrow?” “What do you think you could do to help?” “What do you think we could do to make it better?”

How to build rapport with Older Adults

  • Use Proper Form of Address – Establish respect right away by using formal language. Use Mr., Mrs., Ms., and so on. Or you might ask your client about preferred forms of address and how she or he would like to address you.
  • Make Older Clients Comfortable – Ask staff to make sure clients have a comfortable seat in the waiting room and help with filling out forms if necessary. Be aware that older clients may need to be escorted to and from the consultation room, restrooms, and the waiting area.
  • Take a Few Moments to Establish Rapport – Introduce yourself clearly and do not speak too quickly. Show from the start that you accept the client and want to hear his or her concerns.
  • Try Not to Rush – Older people may have trouble following rapid-fire questioning or torrents of information. By speaking more slowly, you will give them time to process what is being asked or said. Avoid hurrying older clients. Time spent discussing concerns will allow you to gather important information and improve cooperation and programming adherence.
  • Avoid Interrupting – Once interrupted, a client is less likely to reveal all his or her concerns.
  • Use Active Listening Skills – Face the client, maintain eye contact, and use frequent, brief responses when he or she is talking. Active listening keeps the discussion focused and lets clients know you understand their concerns.
  • Demonstrate Empathy – Watch for opportunities to respond to clients’ emotions. Studies show that clinical empathy can be learned and practised and adds less than a minute to the client interview. It also has rewards in terms of client satisfaction, understanding, and adherence to the programme.

Ways to support a safe and enjoyable fitness environment

Gyms and fitness facilities areas can be hazardous places. Although designed to encourage physical exercise and healthier lifestyles, every leisure activity comes with its own set of hazards and risks. These dangers are exacerbated when facility managers are unable to implement adequate health and safety procedures.

From carrying out risk assessments to guiding using equipment correctly, ensuring safety in a fitness centre can seem like an incredibly daunting task at times. After all, such an environment will always pose a severe risk of injury or accident. Many employers invest in health and safety training courses to train staff and help minimise those dangers.

Follow health and safety laws.

Although you might consider your health and safety policy to be something of a secondary concern, the employer has a legal obligation to draw up a written policy and provide thorough training to employees. Due to the Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974, all employers must keep staff, visitors, and customers as safe as possible.

Owners of gyms and leisure centres certainly are not exempt from these laws and must be able to prove they have done everything “reasonably practical” to ensure the health and safety of those on their premises. Essentially, this involves identifying any hazards and then taking the necessary steps to either control or eradicate those risks.

Identify hazards and reduce risks.

Every organisation’s legal obligation is to have a risk assessment strategy to identify potential hazards and risks to members while using the premises and its services. Risk assessment and the potential to cause harm is minimised, but only if all staff follows it.

A typical assessment will involve a thorough examination of the premises, equipment, and procedures, followed by evaluating the risks involved and then implementing sensible control measures. It is always a good idea to prioritise the biggest dangers first, but eventually, all apparent risks need to be reduced to a satisfactory level.

A risk assessment strategy as part of the organisation’s health and safety policy helps keep staff and members safe by identifying the possible hazards that may cause harm. If an accident does occur, companies without an adequate policy or have not been followed can receive a hefty fine or criminal prosecution if found to be negligent.

Protect staff members and customers

Enforcing health and safety policy helps safeguard staff, members and customers. Companies are legally required to ensure a safe environment or service so, therefore, need to implement adequate health and safety policy and procedures to follow:

Maintain Equipment

Whether you run an international gym chain or a local children’s play centre, neglected equipment can always prove incredibly dangerous to those using it. It is essential for staff members to regularly check for faulty or unsafe equipment and take the necessary steps to remove it or have equipment repaired. Most checks involve an inspection of the equipment’s condition, but a safe area working area with plenty of room for use should also be part of the check.

Health and Safety Training

Providing your employees with adequate health and safety training should be an essential part of your policy. In a fitness environment, staff members will be expected to provide visitors with adequate equipment training and deliver first aid when required. At the same time, they will also be required to respond to any emergencies. Without the proper training, this just would not be possible.

Supervise Gym Members and Activity Participants

Members using equipment or participating in an activity for the first time may require supervision to ensure safe and effective exercise participation. For new users, an induction session is a perfect opportunity to view the facility features and to be able to set up and safely use a range of gym equipment. Induction programmes allow centre staff to instruct the participants while allowing them the opportunity to ask questions. Also, the induction session is an ideal time to discuss and explain the centre’s policies and procedures that participants must know.

Respond quickly to emergencies

The risk of an emergency in a fitness environment will always be high since the sheer physical exertion could result in a nasty injury or severe health problem, and accidents can always happen when equipment and machinery are involved.

Effective health and safety policies will ensure that staff members can respond quickly to emergencies, whether it be a customer or employee that requires urgent attention. Quick communication is vital and can be encouraged using lone worker radio devices.

Of course, every business also needs to have fire safety procedures in place so that everyone on the premises can be ushered to a safe location in the event of an alarm being triggered.

Without the required safety measures in place, staff members simply will not be able to handle an emergency, which could have incredibly damaging consequences for both your business and everyone on the premises.


It is essential to ensure that maintenance and cleaning of all equipment are carried out regularly. Cleaning and maintenance are usually scheduled using a staff Rota system. It goes with saying that clean equipment reduces the spread of germ and disease.

Clients should be encouraged to wipe down equipment after use for hygiene reasons (i.e., to reduce the spread of germs and disease) and safety reasons (e.g., prevent another client from slipping and hurting themselves on wet or slippery equipment).

All floors should be kept clean and dry, especially after group classes, to prevent another participant from slipping and hurting themselves on a wet floor. Clients should be encouraged to clean up the areas they used, and the fitness instructor should check the area afterwards to ensure that it is dry and no longer a hazard.

There must be adequate facilities for clients to clean the equipment after use, and fitness instructors should regularly check any towel dispensers to ensure they are well maintained and stocked. If there are no towels available for members to use, then it is likely that the hazards above will be more prevalent.

In preventing germs and bacteria from spreading, fitness instructors must start with their hygiene, especially as you will make contact with gym members.

Footwear should be worn on the gym floor, especially in any free weight areas, to reduce the degree of injury if, by any chance, a weight lands on foot—also, wear footwear in wet facilities, such as sliders. Floor surface water increases the risk of slipping and falling.

List ways to present oneself in a professional and approachable manner

Quite simply, you should consider presenting yourself and your organisation positively to members because the advantages to the organisation – member retention, increased sales (and therefore profitability) and advancement of your career, dramatically outweigh the disadvantages of not doing so.

Maintaining a positive attitude when communicating with clients can be achieved in the following ways:

  • Be professional – employees should demonstrate their knowledge or ability and show how skilful they are, for example, when dealing with customers.
  • Appearance and Presentation – clothing and grooming should be appropriate to the organisation’s expectations, and you should maintain the highest level of personal hygiene. Employees must always wear their uniform and name badge. Uniforms must be clean, ironed and worn in line with the organisational requirements. The centre may have guidelines about jewellery, clothing, and hygiene.
  • Be polite and personable – it costs nothing.
  • Upskilling: employers should provide training for their employees, including an induction, to ensure continuing professional development (CPD).
  • Walk the talk – do what you expect of others today. To understand gym exercise, you must work out or at least play sport regularly. Avoid negative health behaviours like smoking, drugs, and poor eating patterns.
  • Positive Attitude: a good attitude towards each other and customers can give an excellent first impression. All employees need to demonstrate a positive and helpful attitude towards others working in and using the facilities.
  • Be enthusiastic and show a sense of humour.
  • Communication skills – all employees must be able to communicate effectively with colleagues and customers. Communication skills are how we can convey information to people. There are two basic categories of communication: Verbal and visual.
  • Know the organisation – employees should demonstrate their knowledge or ability and show how skilful they are, for example, when dealing with customers.
  • Accountability – all employees are responsible for their actions and outcomes. For example, poor customer service could lead to a customer making a formal complaint about a staff member.
  • Act with integrity and maintain customer/client confidentiality
  • Be adaptable Time Management- employees need to be punctual and meet deadlines.
  • Respect differences and diversity
  • Respond to queries promptly.
  • Follow Organisational Standards – there must be straightforward reporting methods to managers, particularly for issues that may require urgent attention – for example, safety issues.

Code of ethics and conduct

A code of ethics and conduct is a set of standards deemed expected of individuals within their respective skill sector. In the UK fitness industry, we have the fitness code of ethics and conduct set by the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPS). It aims to help you provide a high quality, safe and professional service to the clients and gym members who use fitness instruction. It outlines the behaviours and attitudes that people who use your service should rightly expect.

There are five fundamental principles to the Code of Ethics and Conduct:

  1. Rights – As an exercise professional, you should deal with your clients openly and transparently. You should always adopt the highest degree of professionalism in dealing with your client’s needs.
  2. Relationships – As an exercise professional, you should develop a healthy relationship with your customers and other health professionals.
  3. Personal responsibilities – As an exercise professional, you will demonstrate and promote a responsible lifestyle and professional conduct.
  4. Professional standards – As an exercise professional, you will seek to adopt the highest level of professional standards in your work and your career development.
  5. Safe working practice – As an exercise professional, you should thoroughly prepare for all activities, ensuring the safety of your clients is a priority.

Different types of customer conflict and how to manage them

No organisation is immune to conflict between services, staff and its members. Client conflict occurs when the trainer, company or organisation and client disagree due to different ways of doing things, miscommunication, varying priorities, misaligned expectations, confusion, and unexpected changes.

The types of conflict that can occur in customer service are:

Customer vs agent
This scenario commonly comes to mind when discussing customer service conflicts. A customer is upset that something is not working the way they believe it should be. In this instance, it is crucial that the agent set aside personal interests and adopt an empathetic negotiator’s role.

Peer vs Peer
This conflict occurs within the customer service team or between customer service and other departments. While finding a resolution without intervention is possible, both parties need to commit to working through their differences.

Agent vs manager
This tricky situation happens when an agent and a supervisor have a difference of opinion—typically overwork output, growth opportunities, or unfair treatment. Both the manager and agent should show empathy and use negotiation tactics to resolve the issue. It also may be necessary to bring in a third party to clear the air equitably.

Customer Service Conflict Resolution Strategies

  1. Listen: Give your client time to speak their mind, share their story, and explain their frustrations uninterrupted and listen to what they have to say. Often clients that leave one agency for another do so because they did not feel heard.
  2. Acknowledge: When the client is done explaining the situation to you, take time to acknowledge their feelings. Repeat back the critical points raised to demonstrate listening and that you understand. If you need to, probe further with non-judgmental questions to gather more information.
  3. Show empathy: Empathy is the understanding of others and their viewpoint and potential issues. Members want to have listened to and that you take their concerns or issues seriously. An empathetic instructor can consider the perspective from the member’s point of view and why they may be upset, and how the situation affects them. Let them know that you are sorry, you care, and you are doing everything you can to reach a positive solution.
  4. State the facts: So far, the conversation around the conflict has been focused on the client, their concerns, their needs, and making them feel heard, acknowledged, and understood—and you have done so without defending you or your team or arguing with the client in any way. Now you need to state the facts objectively and clearly about the situation. Communicate the who, what, where, when, why, and how and leave emotion out of it.
  5. Explain the solution: With a clear understanding of the issue and the objective facts, it is time to explain the solution to your client. In some cases, you have an on the spot ready solution. Alternatively, not an immediate solution, then explain what will happen next and the steps to finding a suitable solution.
  6. Remain firm: You must remain firm, fair, and friendly always and once a solution is reached, you stick to it. Do not waiver or let the client push you around if they decide the solution is not good enough. If the client is still unhappy, be prepared to take the steps as outlined in your contract.

When You Made A Mistake

No one is perfect, and you cannot guarantee that your work will be one hundred percent error-free, especially when writing hundreds of thousands of lines of code. If you do happen to make a mistake on a client project or do something wrong during a client engagement, follow these three steps:

  1. Own the mistake: Admit to mistake as soon as possible by taking ownership. Start by apologising straight away. Avoid making excuses or assigning blame as this will be of no concern to the client.
  2. Communicate the Fix: Share the solution or the fix with the client. Often, if you have a viable solution to present, the client will not be as upset about the initial mistake. If you are not sure of the solution or what will make the client happy, ask them.
  3. Explain the Plan: Demonstrate your professionalism and re-establish your expertise by explaining the plan of action step-by-step to the client so they know exactly what to expect and what comes next.

What to do with a Client

So far, we have only addressed conflicts where the client is unhappy or where you have made a mistake, but occasionally, the conflict will stem from you. There will be times when the agency has a problem with the client, and the concerns are from the service provider, not the client.

In this case, you need to decide how significant the problem or concern is and whether it is worth presenting the problem to the client and creating conflict in the relationship. If the problem is severe enough to mention:

  1. Explain the situation and problem to the client clearly, objectively, and without emotion.
  2. Follow steps 1-6 above to reach a successful conflict resolution.

Positive conflict resolution builds trust.

As discussed, experiencing problems, hitting obstacles, and dealing with conflicts is a normal part of owning an agency and working in client services.

While you hope to minimise and avoid conflicts with clients, clear communication, and effective systems, at some point, conflicts will arise. The key is being prepared to manage conflicts effectively so you can reach a positive solution quickly. In this way, you can transform a conflict situation into a positive experience that demonstrates empathy, builds trust, reinforces your professionalism, and improves your client relationship.

The importance of customer retention

What is customer retention?

Customer retention is a company’s ability to retain its customers over time. It is a percentage that measures how many customers are retained by the end of a given period.

Why is customer retention necessary?

Customer retention is vital to a company or organisational growth. Retention measures how successful a company is at attracting new customers and retaining existing customers or repeat purchases.

It is also easier and more cost-effective to retain customers than to acquire new ones. Returning customers spend more and buy more often and refer friends and family. Only a 5% increase in customer retention can increase company revenue by 25-95%.

  • Loyalty: Retained customers buy more often and spend more than newer customers. They have learned the value of a product or service and keep coming back, again and again.
  • Referrals: Satisfied, loyal customers are more likely to sing a company’s praises and refer their friends and family — bringing in new customers, free of charge.
  • Increases Revenue: Customer retention has a direct influence on increasing the revenue of the business. It enables the business to retain its customers for the long term and develop a sense of loyalty. Customers become loyal to the business and make repetitive purchases with the business.
  • Reduce promotional expenses: It is one of the essential advantages of the customer retention process. Customer retention cuts down the advertisement and marketing cost of companies. If companies can retain sufficient customers for the long term, targeting new customers can become slightly less aggressive.
  • Valuable Feedback from Customers: It helps the companies in acquiring valuable feedback from their customers. Through customer retention programs, a business can connect with its customers in a better way. They develop a better level of understanding with their customers. Customers also develop a sense of belongingness with them and provide them with valuable suggestions and feedback.
  • Enhances Brand Image: It enhances the overall business in the market and creates goodwill. Customer retention helps in serving customers better and holds them for the long term. It focuses on the specific needs of customers and attempts to make them happy and feel satisfied.
  • Reduces Competition: Competition from rival companies is one of the significant challenges faced by every company. Customer retention helps in lowering the competition effect in the market on business. Businesses can develop more loyal customers through their customer retention programs.


These loyal customers do not switch to other brands quickly, no matter what offers the rivalries provide to their customers.