Customer relationship management basics
Great customer relationship management will create customers and players for life. Remember, the best kind of customers for your business are “evangelists”—these are the customers who will sing your praises. And for you, that means free advertising.
Apple is generally credited with creating “evangelist” marketing, and that’s what allows the company to charge the prices it charges. Apple knows that people trust the opinions of people they know.
This is one of the reasons why the USTA is promoting “Tennis Ambassadors.”
These ambassadors are passionate players who recruit new and returning players for their facility, park or programs. They’re “tennis evangelists” who are helping facilities fill clinics, gain members and realize greater profits. (For more on the Tennis Ambassador program, contact Marilyn Sherman at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
To maintain great customer relationships—which means creating more and more evangelists for your business—your players and clients want consistency, capability and compassion.
To ensure consistency in customer/player interactions, you need to make sure everyone on the team is communicating with customers/players in the same way. The front office should understand and use your club’s brand voice. Marketing should also have an identifiable and consistent voice.
Is your facility able to communicate when members expect it? If your club is open, it should be reachable by phone, at a minimum. But in today’s world, you also need to consider using email and messaging tools, as well. If the facility is closed, automation technology can answer basic queries.
Do you keep your promises and stick to your scheduled appointments? Players may be a bit late to their lesson, but you—and your staff—can’t be. Inform clients as soon as possible if you can’t make a scheduled session. Remember, a schedule is a promise—people won’t trust you if you can’t keep your scheduled appointments, start and end lessons on time, and in general be there when you say you’ll be.
Communication with a member should never end with, “I don’t know.” Ensure everyone knows which teammate can best handle a given issue. If your club offers it, then someone needs to be able to explain it as an expert.
Coaches and trainers are on the front lines of any capability issues. A coach or trainer’s role is to be capable and knowledgeable. Try to learn how everything in the facility works, even if you don’t use it. Helping members with procedures and equipment can help sell lessons, clinics and training sessions later.
Politeness and professionalism need to be non-negotiable for front office staff. Remind staff that the customer is their boss—they’re the ones paying the salaries. Make sure you and your staff peak clearly and calmly, without cursing or excessive slang.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Things happen—it’s what you do after they happen that defines you. Be seen as a caring problem-solver, not as an indifferent jerk. Address issues as soon as possible, or refer them to someone who can address them.
Teaching pros, coaches and trainers have closer relationships with clients than many other professionals. You may see your players more often than you see some family members, so positive relationships are critical to sustaining a strong client roster.
Tim Bainton is the Managing Partner of Blue Chip Sports Management. This blog is adapted from the Blue Chip Learning Lab.
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