The fitness industry has a very unique relationship with customers as compared to any other industry. Even within the industry as a whole, there are many different expectations from customers based on the type of studio, gym, or class they’re choosing in an increasingly diverse market. In the spirit of our upcoming best practices benchmark and finding out what makes customers tick, we put together some valuable industry-specific data to get you thinking about retention and customer experience. 

We analyzed 9,900 member responses to NPS surveys at 66 randomly selected fitness brands over a 6 month period. Our goal was to find out what sorts of things were dissatisfying members as well as those that would increase customer retention. We broke the findings down into 3 categories: barriers, delighters, and drivers.

  1. Barriers

These are the minimum expectations of members. Barriers will irritate members if they are performed poorly, but they don’t have any positive effects if performed well. For example, members expect bathrooms to be clean, but they’ll only notice when the facilities are dirty. Basically, you’d better get these right no matter what.

Notice that barriers vary based on the type of business, but similar themes run throughout the industry. For the more intimate fitness experiences, space seems to be a big issue, so it pays to monitor class size and equipment availability. Price is obviously an issue to every customer, but you can mitigate that by adding value to your service or location. Pay attention to our next two categories for ideas on how to increase value.

  1. Delighters

These are the “wow” factors that your members didn’t expect. These show your members you’ve gone above and beyond. Delighters improve retention when performed well, but there is no negative impact if they’re absent or performed poorly. For example, if you do something like a special member appreciation event with a free class, members will be very impressed. If you don’t, they won’t notice; they weren’t expecting it anyway.

A friendly attitude seems to go a long way here, so collecting feedback and training employees on interactions could be a booster. Cultivating an inviting space with helpful, happy employees will be most important when it comes to surprising your members with excellence.

  1. Drivers

These factors go both ways. If you miss the mark with drivers, customers will notice in a negative way. If you perform drivers well, retention increases. For example, if the staff is rude or inattentive, members may not return. If your staff provides exceptional service, they will notice and retention will increase.

Instructors, coaches, and staff are big factors in this category. Getting feedback from your members can help improve training and reveal which sorts of workouts and classes are most effective at increasing retention and member engagement.

If you found this helpful and want to learn more about improving your CX and retention, look out for our upcoming benchmark report on best practices from top brands in your industry.

CLICK HERE to be added to the list to receive the benchmark as soon as it is published!


If you do even a slight amount of online business, you know by now that Google and your business are pretty firmly linked. With over 90% of online experiences starting on a search engine, SEO and PPC have become much more than buzzwords. They’re ingrained in how we do business. In a recent effort to make information more accessible, though, Google has changed the game. It’s becoming more difficult for customers to find your business organically. Here are the reasons why and how you can prepare for them.

Zero-Click Searches

If you search for something like “weather in Atlanta” or even the term “SEO,” you’ll notice the Google shift I’m talking about. Rather than immediately offering you links to other sites, Google scrapes that information and displays it directly on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This format is starkly different from the Google of years past, and it’s unintentionally killing clicks. When someone finds all or at least enough displayed at the top of the page and stops there, it’s a zero-click search.

This new face of Google’s SERP is extremely convenient for the casual searcher cutting down on clicks. But for those of us who rely on those clicks, it’s a major speedbump. In 2018, over 34% of desktop searches resulted in zero clicks, and mobile zero-click searches were above 60%. As Google becomes more of a portal than a search engine, businesses are going to need to improve their approach to SEO to keep getting clicks that drive purchases. There are 3 relatively easy things you can start doing to boost your efforts.

1. Write Long Tail Content

This exercise will not only help you get more valuable clicks, but it will help you understand how to set your brand apart from others in your space in general. “The Long Tail” refers to more specific keywords or phrases that go beyond the generics of your product or service. In other words, you want to think about the small things that distinguish you from your competitors. 

For example, if you own a salon, you don’t want every title or keyphrase to be generically about salons and hair. It helps to branch out a bit to appeal to a wider variety of searches. People who search more specifically are much more likely to make a purchase, so it helps to target those people with more finely-tuned language. A good SEO practice to remember is to link your long tail material to your mainstream content to help Google crawlers make sense of your site.

2. Analyze Customer Responses 

If you’re doing any type of surveying or customer feedback, take a look at the language your customers are using. If you can establish a pattern of what customers are looking for in your experience and even what they searched for when they found your business, you can tailor your content accordingly. You will discover the features and specific language you can highlight in your content that will appeal to the searches of your most likely customers.

3. Educate Your Team

SEO vocabulary and practices, at least on a rudimentary level, should be commonplace among your staff. Present your findings and best practices to team members to ensure that everyone is writing authoritative content that stands a chance of showing up on SERPs. The more clarity and authority your copy has, the more likely Google is to pick it up or at least scrape from your site and feature at the top of the page. 

Game theory is a fascinating corner of mathematics that is used for everything from predicting social behavior to geopolitics and to, of course, business. It deals with the strategies and outcomes of individuals when faced with certain scenarios or dilemmas. As predicting outcomes and weighing risks are integral to economics, it’s no surprise that game theory plays a role in business and helps in decision making. We recently saw an example of how these mathematical scenarios affect people’s decisions while working on a survey for a benchmark report. Let’s dig into the findings and what they could mean for your business.

The Dilemma

While researching for our benchmark report, we contacted and surveyed hundreds of businesses across a wide variety of industries. The biggest speed bump with surveys, of course, is getting people to actually respond.

The questionnaires are naturally anonymous,  but we encountered some hesitation when it came to the idea of sharing best practices to be published. Why should you put your tricks of the trade out there for your competitors to see? There’s a good reason why you should, and it brings us to our theoretical game: the stag hunt.

The Game

The game starts with a simple choice for the two players: will you hunt for stag or hare? The two hunters have to work together to get a stag, but one hunter alone can get a hare. Neither hunter knows which the other will choose, so there is a risk of getting nothing if a player chooses stag and the other chooses hare. It seems obvious to protect your own interests and choose hare, but a small hare will yield much less meat than a stag. So which should you pick?

The stag in our situation is a comprehensive benchmark report with valuable data. If you’re familiar with the power of benchmarking, you know that loads of businesses use them to improve their practices and jumpstart innovation. The only way we can get a complete report here, though, is if the players cooperate. The act of choosing the stag is like agreeing to respond to a survey about best practices. The hare, for us, is not participating in benchmarking and going it alone to figure out the best way to do things. While it seems less risky, not participating decreases the potential reward for everyone.

The Outcome

As an exercise, this game is played with both hunters oblivious to the choice of the other. While an excellent demonstration, it doesn’t necessarily reflect how things work in the business world. We don’t operate in a closed system, and by forming relationships and acquiring knowledge, we literally change the game.

You may remember the film A Beautiful Mind in which Russell Crowe portrays brilliant mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. In the Oscar-winning biopic, a young Nash finds himself in a juvenile barroom dilemma with his classmates: who gets to go for the prettiest girl? In a moment of dramatized inspiration, Nash realizes that by competing for just one girl the friends will block each other and scare off the rest of the girls.

It dawns on him that the best outcome will happen when each individual does what’s best for himself and the group. Not just himself. You may want to refresh yourself on the iconic scene for the full effect, but it lends itself to our benchmark situation. When we all consider the strategies of our opponents, collaborate, and act accordingly in an open system, we are much more likely to get the proverbial stag. Closed-mindedness and failure to consider others’ strategies will get only a hare or two if anything at all. It’s up to you to change the game.

The Benchmark

As I mentioned above, we are working on a comprehensive benchmark about best practices in customer experience to be released this summer! It covers tons of industries and includes info from hundreds of businesses. Follow our blog and stay tuned to see how you can get your hands on the report. Reach out to us if you’d like to know more about best practices and strategizing for your customer experience.

A customer feedback system is an important tool to have for any growing business, but the search for the right one can be difficult. There are many bells and whistles as far as software features go, but when it comes down to it, you just need to remember the 5 A’s.

It’s difficult to listen and respond to all of your customers while you’re focused on growing your business. Less-sophisticated applications might work for a while, but the task becomes a bit overwhelming as you start to scale. Automating feedback requests and collection will ensure consistency across your network and allow you to get responses in real-time. Following up with customers quickly and efficiently is paramount.

Compiling the data from your feedback efforts will allow you to see how your customer base as a whole feels about your brand. This is the premise of the Net Promoter System, a research-driven invention of Bain & Company that has become the golden standard of customer engagement. Distilling your feedback into a score for one and all locations helps set benchmarks, goals, and action plans.

These days, online presence is everything. If a customer feedback system isn’t rolling up to your online reviews, it isn’t worth considering. You want to be able to share the good things customers are saying with your employees and prospective customers. Studies show that internally sharing the praise from your customers will improve morale and productivity of your employees. This boosts their interactions with customers and contributes to better company culture. Amplifying great feedback forms a cycle of positivity that generates better online reviews, more referrals, and attracts better talent during your hiring process.

Data is undeniably a driving force behind many markets. Tracking and understanding the data behind your business gives you a significant leg up on your competition. A customer feedback system that uses features like text analysis to establish patterns in customers’ responses can help pinpoint best practices and areas for improvement. Brands like Orangetheory Fitness and Sport Clips incorporate these findings into their operations at a managerial level and have improved training and customer-facing behaviors as a result.

One of the most important things about capitalizing on customer feedback is making sure it’s distributed throughout your entire network. Owners, managers, or team members at different locations should be able to access dashboards so they can monitor their specific customer bases. Having access to this vital information creates a sense of accountability and empowerment on the front lines. Those who interact with customers have all the power to shape the relationship your brand has with those customers, so they should be armed with this powerful resource.

If you stick with this list and check all the boxes, you can’t go wrong. If you’re interested in learning more about customer feedback systems and how they can help your business, click here.

In marketing, existing customer feedback isn’t always top of mind. Priorities are typically around finding ways to get new business. After all, there are ops teams, support reps, & managers that focus on retention.

Customers are not afraid to voice their feelings. Their voice has an impact on nearly every single one of your marketing initiatives. From the moment you decide to put your customers at the center of your marketing strategy, your business will be transformed.

Watch this short video to learn 3 ways you can make customers a part of your marketing strategy to do just that.


We see them everyday without ever looking up at the sky. Those little stars on a webpage often make or break everything from an Amazon cart to a restaurant reservation or even a roof repair service. They influence how we buy and where we look on our screens, but they’re not always top of mind when it comes to AdWords campaigns. It may seem like a subtle difference, but if you use those twinkling little stars to your advantage, they can make your ads stand out from the competition and your bottom line shine.

Customers cost money. Before they ever make a purchase, we spend upsetting amounts on simply getting their attention. Pay-per-click, SEO, and digital advertising have become a nearly universal necessity for growing businesses and consume sizable chunks of budgets. The price tag can be painful, but these methods work. You’ll get clicks and generate leads, but if you don’t continue to optimize your ads to drive CPC down and traffic up, it’s not a sustainable gameplan. One of the answers to this problem, of course, is written in the stars.

Adding stars to your PPC campaign can push all the right numbers in all the right directions. On average, ads with what Google calls “Seller Ratings” get a 10% higher click-through rate than those with none. In some cases, the boost can get up to 30% or higher. Seller Ratings also improve a business’ Quality Score which is a number that Google factors into CPC. An increase in Quality Score via Seller Ratings lowers CPC by roughly 14%, making them much more cost-effective. Cheaper ads and more clicks. Sounds pretty good, right? Buckle up, because we’re just getting started.

A whopping 90% of customers say that their buying decisions depend heavily on customer feedback. An impressive 88% consider online feedback as good as a personal recommendation from a friend or colleague. Your rating status online simply can’t be ignored, and it’s now made its way to AdWords campaigns. At least 77% of shoppers will compare yours with your competitors before making a purchase. Ads with Seller Ratings stand out, build trust, and increase qualified traffic to your site.

So, now you know how effective Seller Ratings can be, but how do you get started on your own? The reason star ratings appear on only a handful of search results is that search engines like Google have several requirements that regulate the process. Listen360’s AdStars® uses the feedback that we’re already receiving from your customers to meet the requirements of Google, Bing, and Yahoo for displaying a star rating next to your paid search ads. In other words, we automate the process by pushing your feedback through the hoops so you don’t have to jump through them yourself.

You’re already doing a great job of delighting your customers to get great feedback, why not show it off? Stars sell, and if you’ve got that little light, you’ve got to let it shine. To learn more about AdStars® and how Listen360 can help you optimize your ad dollars, click here.

Have your AdWords stats handy? Check out the AdStars® ROI calculator to see how much you can start saving today.

Lessons Learned From an Industry Veteran

In the health and fitness industry, a new member costs 5 times more to keep than an existing one. Wouldn’t you like to know exactly why your members are coming through the door or never coming back?

Learn how American Family Fitness incorporated member feedback into their daily practice to improve retention, enhance employee performance, and boost online reviews. Watch now to learn how to:

• Gather actionable feedback to ensure you’re consistently delivering a superior member experience
• Put feedback to work in your club or studio to make effective and impactful operational improvements
• Turn positive feedback into glowing online reviews and testimonials to drive new business

Facebook has retired the star rating system. Rather than giving users a 1-5 scale to leave a review, Facebook is now simply asking whether or not users would recommend a business.

Facebook hopes this change will push people to write more extensively about their experiences and leave authentic feedback; they believe these richer reviews are designed to help businesses be more visible in their local communities and attract more customers.

With over 1.6 billion people connected to small businesses on the platform, it’s no surprise that Facebook is testing out new ideas and working to make strides in the world of local business marketing.

So, what exactly has changed? Here’s the skinny:


  • Facebook users can easily indicate if they recommend your business with a simple “yes” or “no” (in place of the 1-5 star rating)
  • Users can explain why they would or would not recommend your business with tags, text, and photos. The minimum character count for the text is 25 characters.
  • Previous review data will still appear on local business pages. The reviews section, however, now features a numeric rating that is a combination of old star ratings and new yes/no recommendations.
  • It’s easier for your business to report fraudulent reviews, spam, or paid content in recommendations.
  • Unlike Facebook reviews, recommendations are not limited to a business’s page. Recommendations appear on user profiles and are discoverable across Facebook when people search or talk about your business, making it easier for people to find you.
  • Facebook realizes that people trust recommendations from their network of friends; recommendations from the people closest to a user will display more prominently.

As Facebook continues to help people connect with local businesses, it’s important to build internal processes that adapt and capitalize on these changes. If you are currently leveraging the Net Promoter System to determine how likely your customers are to recommend your business, you’re in great shape. By proactively asking your customers how likely they are to recommend your business, you will end up with more and better recommendations on Facebook and other platforms. NPS gives you a chance to identify detractors (those who score 0-6) and follow up with them before they go to Facebook to drive your recommendation rating down with a simple “no”. It also affords you the opportunity to turn passives (those who score 7-8) into promoters, and give your 9s and 10s the ability to share their wonderful experiences with their social network.

Two-thirds of all users visit the page of a local business at least once a week and Facebook expects to increase as they continue to identify new ways to connect users to local businesses within their communities.

Local business marketing is ever evolving, but customer referrals and recommendations remain at the heart of winning business strategies. Check out how brands like Orangetheory fitness, Orkin, and Fastsigns leverage NPS to win and retain customers, here.

When you sign a check, you’re sure to know where it’s going. When you invest, you monitor the markets. As a business, you can’t afford to treat your brand any differently.

Every time a customer chooses to spend with your brand, you’re putting your signature on the experience that customer receives. In the early days of franchising, the business embodies your vision and passion for exemplary customer service. As you grow and entrust your brand to more franchisees and locations, it becomes increasingly difficult to ensure the same quality across the expanse of your organization. Your dedication to your customers got you to where you are today; it’s time you saw that in action all over your network.

Meet the Net Promoter System. A product of years of research at Bain and Company, NPS is the pinnacle of customer feedback tools. The system reveals exactly how your customers feel about your brand. You can see which practices are working and which are causing friction on a regional, individual location, or even team member level.

Giants like Apple and Amazon use these proven metrics to understand how their customers are feelingestablish accountability for the customer experience, and confidently predict future profits. With more than two-thirds of the Fortune 1000 behind it, the NPS formula is certainly worth examining.

We’ve watched franchises use NPS in various ways to create ecstatic customer bases over the years. While each industry naturally has nuances, the general application and strategy around customer feedback remains very similar and very effective. We put these observations into an eBook that can guide you through the ins and outs of customer engagement through NPS. Don’t miss out; give it a read here.

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And Why NPS Adopters Are 2 Steps Ahead

Google recently updated their policies around what’s commonly known as review gating.

Review gating is a process where businesses first find out if a customer’s experience was positive or negative. When businesses only ask those who report having a positive experience to leave a review, this is known as “gating.”

According to one of the key changes in Google’s terms of service, businesses should not “discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.”

Google realizes that consumers use their reviews to make purchasing decisions. They also realize that, in order to continue to be a reliable source, they’ll need to make adjustments to their ecosystem, as we’ve also seen in their recent removal of anonymous reviews.

What does this mean for companies that only ask for reviews from their happiest customers? Right now, with very little info coming from Google, it is unclear. Many businesses are choosing the “wait and see” approach as there haven’t been any reports of companies being penalized for continuing business as usual. Others are taking a more proactive stance and asking all their customers for reviews, regardless of sentiment.

At Listen360, we believe it’s important to look beyond reviews when making decisions about running your business. Negative reviews stem from negative experiences. When great experiences and loyal customers are a priority, stellar reviews follow. This is the essence of the Net Promoter System (NPS) and is the reason that businesses who’ve adopted the NPS methodology are two steps ahead.

Businesses that ask for reviews in tandem with NPS are less likely to be impacted by this Google policy change. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Customers want to be heard. NPS gives detractors a way to express their concerns privately. By giving them an outlet, they’re less likely to follow it up with public negativity, even if given the option.
  • Finding out who is dissatisfied and looking for ways to make it right affords businesses the opportunity to generate positive reviews that would have otherwise been nonexistent.
  • By looking for trends in customer feedback, businesses can prioritize and tackle larger issues that impact more people which, in turn, influence more reviews.

If you love your customers, they’ll love you right back. Adopting customer-centric strategies like NPS helps drive repeat business and increases the quantity and quality of reviews organically.

Whether or not your organization chooses to ask some customers or all customers for reviews thereafter, nothing beats knowing the true drivers of customer loyalty at your organization.

If you’re curious about how Listen360 can help you build a brand that customers adore, give us a shout.