Think back to the last time you wanted to a buy a product or service you’d never used before. You had questions, right? 

Most people have a few queries they need to be answered before they decide to part with their hard-earned cash. Whether or not they decide to choose your business or go somewhere else, depends upon how quickly and how well you answer those queries. 

It’s easy to assume that customer care via the online world is easier for stores, e.g. those selling their goods and services online, without any face to face contact with their customers. However, gyms and clubs can still use online methods to entice new customers and to ensure that their current clients remain happy and loyal to the company.

Facebook Messenger is one way you can do that. 

Why Facebook Messenger?

The majority of millennials use messaging apps to communicate these days. Gone are the days of picking up the phone and having a conversation! It’s far easier to tap out a message, send it, and go about your day, without sitting there and waiting for someone to answer the phone and discuss a problem or query you have. 

When looking to buy something, or in this case, when looking to join a particular gym or club, it’s good to feel like you can speak to someone on a personal level. This helps to build trust and as a result, the potential customer is more likely to choose you, over one of your competitors.

The human to human relationship is vital for customer service, even before a decision to purchase or use that service has been made. 

Of course, people are more likely to have questions or queries about services such as gyms and clubs. There are million things someone might want to ask, and being able to tap out a message and receive a quick response is very beneficial. 

By mid-April 2017, Facebook Messenger had around 1.2 billion monthly users. The chances that one of your customers, or someone looking to join your gym or club, uses the app is extremely high.

Messenger is very quick and effective to use, and because most people use apps on their smartphones, it’s the most convenient way to stay in touch. 

For instance, the airline KLM uses Messenger to help their customers receive confirmation of their booking and their boarding passes. No need to print out papers or download documents it’s all there waiting in the app, ready to be scanned when they arrive at the airport. 

In terms of how you might be able to use Messenger, you can allow your customers or prospective customers to ask questions directly, rather than call or send an email. Simply ensure the ‘message’ button is clear on your business page and customers can contact you with ease. You can even sent confirmation of booked classes or event participation via Messenger. If your customers want to tell you that they’re not able to attend a class, they can use Messenger to do so, cancelling their place. Of course, there is also the question of chatbots.

What About Chatbots?

One way in which gyms and different clubs can use Facebook Messenger is to use an integrated chatbot. This gives your customers an instant answer to their question, and if the chatbot can’t help, it will redirect to a customer service agent. This is very useful for common questions, such as price of membership, opening hours, special events, etc. 

Of course, chatbots also give 24/7 access to information, which is extremely useful when you consider that most people want an almost instant answer to their question these days!

For the questions that chatbots can’t answer, e.g. problems which need a personalized answer, or someone who just prefers to speak to an actual person, there are a few things you need to bear in mind when using Facebook Messenger as a customer service tool. 

How to Use Facebook Messenger as a Customer Service Tool 

Staying in touch with your customers is vital if you want to keep them happy and keep them walking through your doors, rather than someone else’s. We know that social media marketing is effective and we know how to use sites such as Facebook itself and Instagram, Twitter, etc, but how can you utilize Messenger in other ways, apart from allowing customers to message you directly?

You don’t have to wait for your customers to reach out to you. Millennials want to communicate, but they want to do it via apps, rather than calls, as we’ve already established. 

  • Send automated messages to your followers about new events or new posts on your website

    If you have an event coming up, send out an automated message to everyone on your follower list. This can be events at the gym or club itself, or you can highlight when a new blog post has been posted on your website. Anything that you think your followers might be interested in, you can give them a head’s up via Messenger and it helps to keep that positive connection going. It’s also possible to have virtual classes which users can take part in, with Messenger allowing you to send a quick notification just before the class begins. 

  • Talk about current events

    At the time of writing, the world is going through the Covid-19 pandemic. At times like this we need to pull together, but even in times which are less life-changing, any event is an opportunity to connect with your customers. This helps to build trust. So, when an event happens, reach out to your customers via an automated message. It’s almost like saying “we’re here for you if you need anything”. 

  • Do some market research and send messages about classes/events they might enjoy

    We’ve already mentioned about sending automated messages about events, but when a new customer signs up, why not ask them to fill in a questionnaire about what they enjoy? Then, you can send a message highlighting any classes or events which fit the bill. This is a jogging of the memory almost, and it helps to keep that customer service connection alive. Customer experience platforms are also a good option here. These types of platforms monitor the behavior of your users, based on the collected data. As a result, you can send messages to users about classes which suit their needs and habits. 

  • Celebrate special events

    You’re sure to have people’s birthdays on file and you’ll definitely be able to see them on Facebook, so send a quick ‘happy birthday’ message to your followers on their big day! You could also send a ‘happy anniversary’ message and offer a money off voucher on the anniversary of them signing up. This helps to boost customer loyalty. 

  • Ask for opinions via surveys

    You can send a message with a link to an online survey, asking your customers for their views on how you’re doing and what could be improved. This helps customers to feel valued because they feel you’re listening to them and you’re reaching out to them in a convenient and fast way. You can also use Messenger to encourage your users to trigger a customer support case, if they need advice or help on a specific issue. This encourages your users to ask questions via this particular channel, optimizing it’s effectiveness. 

The Major Do’s & Don’ts

So, you want to allow your gym and club members to contact you via Facebook Messenger, and you also want prospective customers to be able to reach out to you before you join. Here are a few things you need to remember when using the app in this way. 

Be sure to research Facebook’s rules and regulations to ensure that you’re not overstepping any boundaries. However, the points we’ve mentioned so far are all within these guidelines. Facebook’s anti-spam policy prevents you from sending endless messages, so this is something to bear in mind in terms of how many automated messages you send per day.  

  • Don’t wait to respond

    Most people want a response within an hour, so make sure that you have notifications set up on a dedicated laptop or smartphone, and check these regularly. 

  • Do always respond

    In addition, never ignore a message, even if you’re not sure what to say! Answering and seeking out more information is a far better option than simply not answering at all. 

  • Do remember to be polite at all times

    Everyone values manners, so always use them and be polite to anyone who messages you, regardless of the tone in which they message you first. 

  • Do communicate using the customer’s name

    In the gym and club hospitality industry, it’s a good idea to connect with users by their first name. This gives a more personalized approach and creates a more low-key atmosphere. Gyms and clubs are social places and you want your customers to feel comfortable. Using their first name will help with this. 

  • Don’t forget to use your own first name too

    Equally, using your first name makes it far more personalized and less ‘business and customer’. Of course, that’s what you are, but using first names on both sides helps the customer to feel at ease and as a result, they’re more likely to either join or stick with you. 

Conclusion

Facebook Messenger gives you nowhere to hide. Messages are instant, the sender can see if it’s been delivered and read, so when you receive a message you need to be focused on replying to it as quickly as possible. If you can ensure you have a system in place to do this, you’ll find that creating a more personalized and virtually ‘face to face’ approach will help you to maintain your current customer base, whilst attracting more along the way.