Make potential customers as comfortable as you can and you’ll turn them into regulars.
When should customer service become important to you? As soon as your players pull into your parking lot? When they first step into your building or onto your courts? Or when they call on the phone to verify program information?
How about before they officially become your customers?
Charlie Ruddy, a longtime customer-service specialist and developer of the TennisConnect.org software, believes you should prepare your potential customers with enough information to make them feel welcome and want to visit your facility. “Really, all your marketing efforts and promotions provide your customers with a window into what your company’s customer-service philosophy is,” says Ruddy. “Why not make the experience a smooth, easy ride for them?”
In other words, any fliers, FAQ sheets, website publishing, etc. should all be created with the idea of making your potential customers feel comfortable and welcomed into your tennis center. The line between customer service and marketing just got thinner.
“The more thorough you are here, the more at-ease your potential customer is, the more you increase the likelihood of a visit from them,” says Ruddy. To illustrate his point, he relates a story about his first golf lesson.
For his 30th birthday, Ruddy’s wife gave him golf lessons. He’d never played before, but he wanted to learn. On the appointed day, he shows up for his first lesson.
“Where are your clubs?” the golf instructor asks. Ruddy, feeling uncomfortable because he doesn’t have any clubs, stammers, “Um … yeah … well …”
“Don’t worry. Not a problem,” the instructor says while he rustles up some spare clubs. Then, he looks down at Charlie’s feet, “Where are your shoes?”
“Shoes?” The uncomfortable feeling grows into full-blown embarrassment.
The truth is, the facility is — at least partially — responsible for Ruddy’s embarrassment. They easily could have prepared him by providing his wife with some simple information when she purchased the lessons. Why would Ruddy show up without golf clubs or shoes if he knew in advance it was his responsibility?
If you could prevent such embarrassment at your tennis facility, would you? Of course you would.
Working in the industry, it’s easy to make assumptions. Why not take your cues from your customer’s questions and adjust your information accordingly. Macon (Ga.) Tennis Connect Tournament Director Bonnie Smith offers this rule of thumb. “If I get asked the same question three times by three different people, then it’s time for me to provide this information to the public.”
No matter how you choose to communicate with customers and potential customers (whether through email or your website, fliers, advertisements, etc.), you still have to provide answers to basic questions: who, what, where, when, why, how. Remember to include the following:
- Calendar information: dates, times, length of classes and sessions. In today’s world where people have most of their free time scheduled, this is key information.
- Attire: It may seem silly, but a novice player might think he or she needs to go out and buy “real” tennis clothes before stepping onto the court. Also, list rules, like “all men must wear shirts,” etc.
- Equipment: Does your club provide racquets for use during classes? Is there a rental fee? Should a player bring his own equipment?
- Requirements: For instance, age, skill level, any prior instruction necessary.
- Money: What’s the cost? Any additional amount needed? How embarrassing to arrive without your checkbook when additional fees will be applied.
- Policies: What happens if the weather’s bad? What is the make-up or cancellation policy?
- Rules and Regulations: It’s better to post these than to assume everyone already knows them.
- Goals/Objectives: Players want to know what they will get out of taking your classes. Tell them and don’t be afraid to get specific, for instance, “The emphasis on this class is doubles strategy,” etc.
- Benefits: Providing customers with an objective for each of your programs gives the player a picture of what your goals are. It’s also a great idea to list any and all benefits here. Doing so may hook a middle-of-the-roader.
- Quotes: Adding testimonials from players or parents gives your program more credibility.
No one wants to show up unprepared. With a little thought and effort on your part, your players will walk onto your tennis courts ready to swing their racquets, have a great time, and more importantly, come back for more.
Get the FAQs
Make sure you have an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page posted on your website for different types of programs you offer. Print these pages out and post them behind the counter so all your employees are kept up to date and are able to field telephone or walk-in inquiries.
See all articles by Robin Bateman
About the Author
Robin Bateman is the site coordinator for the Tattnall Tennis Center in Macon, Ga., where she coordinates tennis program and leagues, is a tournament director, serves as a team captain, and assists junior teams competing at district, regional, and section events.
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