“The gym was packed with the resolution crowd last night,” one of my friends posted on Facebook earlier this week. “I hope they stick it out, especially the dude who smelled like a turkey dinner. The gym has never smelled so good.”
This, in a nutshell, is why Equinox seemingly threw customer experience management best practices out the window when it recently said it would not accept new memberships in January.
As part of a marketing campaign with the tagline, “We don’t do Januarys,” the fitness club giant said it expected customers to make a true commitment to getting in shape. Most gyms often seem happy to pick up some extra revenue on the backs of hopeful New Year’s resolutions. Equinox suggested the cost of customer churn is too high.
Could this actually be construed as customer-centric? Maybe.
Equinox is obviously catering to an upscale, even elite brand of wellness customer (as its membership prices show).
What does it mean for the experience of their existing customers to suddenly find themselves unable to use their favorite machines or a space for their yoga mat at the start of each year?
How does allowing an influx of fitness tire kickers possibly risk having some of Equinox’s most loyal customers just staying away until February or March?
In that sense, the marketing campaign is not just about saying no to new business. It’s outlining the customer journey people can expect if they are willing to stick it out, week after week. Equinox is promising the best possible fitness studios and classes, for the people who deserve nothing less.
The social media outcry Equinox faced in the wake of the campaign only helped the brand differentiate itself from every other competitor in its category. It’s a way of reinforcing the perception of value Equinox is offering in exchange for an expensive membership.
According to an interview with Equinox’s CMO Jeff De Korte on Fortune, Equinox is also ensuring it continues to build upon the value for those who sign up next month and beyond:
“A direction I see us moving in is the intersection between digital and in-club experience. We have our Equinox+ app which offers our members a variety of content from classes to performance tracking or connecting when they’re in the clubs. Personalization has also always been at the core of our experience whether that’s through your personal trainer, pilates instructor or group classes. You’ll see us lean in on that.”
This is not unlike what brands in almost every sector say about their CX plans, of course. Should Equinox deliver on them in any meaningful way, however, it could provide members the kind of return on investment (ROI) that cements their trust and confidence.
Turning away business during an economic downturn may be bold, but let’s not forget that another CX best practice is prioritizing your most valuable customers.
It’s also worth remembering that old joke attributed to Groucho Marx, who reportedly said he never wanted to belong to a club that would have someone like him as a member. You can almost imagine him standing longingly outside his local Equinox.
Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate, and to manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and is the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.