Resource round-up 2: Customer engagement

As the professional body CIMSPA are here to support the sector, we aim to provide an overview of how businesses can engage with their customers through sharing sector case studies, helpful tips and tricks and useful resources.

Know your market - social engagement
COVID-19 will have changed the customer landscape in more ways than one. Customer needs will have changed, customer behaviours will look very different and customer expectations will have a very different focus.

But what does this mean?

Now, more than ever is a great time to listen to your customers to assess how well you understand them and what changes have occurred.

How to do this:

  • Surveys: Consider targeting engaged customers who are already accessing your COVID-19 relevant content with a short survey to allow collection of feedback relating to your efforts during these times. Keep this survey short and to the point with a quick turnaround time so that you are able to be reactive in your support. 
  • Live chats: Interactive platforms will allow live engagement with your customers, an opportunity to understand their concerns and promote social connectivity. Platforms such as Intercom and Zendesk chat can be used.
  • Reach out to your customers before they need to reach out to you: it's important to keep your customers informed with how COVID-19 is affecting your business and actions you are taking to continue to service them. This can be done via social media or email or utilising phone calls to promote social interaction.
  • Platforms: During closures it is so important to still provide content to your customers to support engagement. From discussions platforms that have been used to do this successfully are Instagram, facebook, zoom, tiktok, podcasts and Mentimeter.
  • Engage beyond the workout: To ensure member retention it is important to use different measures to create a healthy community beyond the workout. Successful examples so far have included virtual coffee hours, fitness challenges for members, daily workout videos, setting goals and timeframe challenges.
Useful resources - adaptation
Recent Leisure Opportunities article has highlighted 25% of people now regularly undertake home fitness workouts above the UK's previously recorded 15.6% gym membership penetration.

An in-depth explanation of elements to consider when moving your focus to online platforms.

Europe Active have put together a checklist to ensure you are supporting your customers during closures and preparing for continued support in the reopening period.

Dan Jacklin shares his advice and knowledge in a webinar around support to leisure businesses during the curret challenges.
Reaching customers - case studies MAGNIFYING GLASS
We have compiled a list of different case studies for businesses of all types from self-employed to training provider. Check them out below.
Training providers

Institute of Swimming (IOS)

Reaching customers: IOS are delivering lots of open ‘coffee chat’ style sessions online to allow customers to speak to them directly, answer any questions and sharing updates from their organisation.

Social engagement: IOS have been using social channels e.g. Facebook, Twitter, working through their partner organisations and mailing lists. They are trying to communicate using traditional methods whereever possible.

Adaptation: New online workshops and CPD webinars launched!
Employer partners


As a business, the steps Sweat have taken are as follows:
  • Filming, shooting and getting content live which is available free of charge to everyone through their website and social channels.
  • Different types of customers have been offered different types of memberships holds, discounts and incentives.
  • This has assisted their cash flow and has meant that they have paid their staff 100% so far. All but one of their team are furloughed and they are now waiting on the 80% support and grant for small businesses.
  • They negotiated with their commercial landlord to pay one third of their quarterly rent as and when they can.
  • They have built a marketing strategy for relaunch which includes 50% off personal training for new clients simply by registering interest at this stage.

"All of this, has so far I think put us in a strong position. Having a strong sense of community, being open and honest with members who are so heavily invested etc has really helped. But they also know that we look after our staff and we’re linking in daily with private community workouts via Zoom." - Luke Newton Co-founder of Sweat Southsea
Barnsley Premier Leisure
  • Reaching customers: They have utilised a home workout hub available to members. Which provides three daily workouts (easy, medium and hard) delivered by their regular instructors and available on an app. Members are able to access classes, connect with instructors and engage socially, with over 1600 workouts completed so far.
  • Membership Payment: When the UK Government decided to shut all gyms the decision was made to blanket freeze all membershps to ensure they would not be affected financially by the crisis.
  • Social Engagement: They have ensured that all of their brand leaders at sites are posting fun, friendly posts on all social media platforms to engage with members throughout this period, such as sharing workout, nutrition and mental health tips.

What Next? Their aim is for their customers to take away how much they prioritise the social connection and how this will continue to be a priority when sites reopen.
Reena, a yoga teacher from Loughborough has offered trial online lessons for her existing customers at a fee of £5 per session. This has enabled Reena to engage with her customers, obtain feedback and plan for online yoga training and her next steps.

Incorporated by Royal Charter Charity registration number 1144545

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