Empowered Employees Outshine "By the Book" Service

by Anne Reuss

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My mother, Jane Reuss, is a Member Engagement Advisor for Life Time Fitness. When visiting her at her office recently, I was befuddled when I saw a cute pyramid of water bottles wrapped in gym towels on the counter behind her desk.

I asked her, “Mom, what are those? Is that a new thing Life Time is having you guys do?”

“I saw some pictures online of these from other clubs. So I just bought a box of bottled water and did the same thing.”

“For whom?”

“For members, walk-ins, you know. Silly!”

I leaned back on the counter and marveled at my mom doing such an awesome thing. As the role is typically more sales-oriented, I haven’t seen any other Member Engagement Advisor do the same.

I recognized it right away as a micromoment, which is what we call the little things that can have a huge impact on the customer experience. Naturally, I took a photo right away and shared it with the rest of the team, who readily voted these ‘towel burritos’ as we now call them (thanks to our Ryan Cleek!) as our July 2014 micromoment of the Month.


 Budget-Friendly Ways to Engage Customers

The towel burritos are a creative way to engage members prior to and after their workouts, should they want a refreshing “care package.” They’re also a kind gesture to show members they are being thought of in a high traffic club.

Life Time is run by a large corporation which has high expectations of their Member Engagement Advisors, so chasing after their handsome quota can induce a high pressure environment. However, my mom recognizes the importance of keeping existing members happy. As we discuss often on our blog, it’s hard to admit how easy it is to forget about long-term customers.

“They’re Not Members. They’re People.”

When I told my mother we were going to feature the “towel burritos” on our blog, she insisted, “It’s not really a big deal, Anne.” I reminded her that not every customer service rep would think of such little things, and I asked how she balances the need to acquire new members with the need to nurture current customer relationships. She shrugged as if she couldn’t grasp the idea that some people would neglect to find the time to pay attention to members.

“They’re people. They’re humans with reasons, needs and wants unique to each of them for joining a gym. It is so much more than a membership. I want them to feel as comfortable as possible throughout their wellness journey,” she said.


She naturally views the members as more than numbers on her tally sheet. My mom has an innate quality many salespeople lack: empathy.

Don’t Underestimate the Value of Empowered Employees: That’s a Comcast Move.

Isn’t it interesting how Life Time calls them “Member Engagement Advisors” rather than sales representatives? The job title demonstrates a winning strategy. When the MEA’s go through training, they are taught to understand that each member is unique, and that there should be no cookie-cutter approach.

Confining service representatives to a manual is a foolish move. Comcast’s recent fiasco, which their COO admitted was a result of standard training, demonstrates how NOT to be uniquely attentive to customer needs.

At Life Time, my mom approaches every prospect, walk-in, new and former member with an open mind and a strong service orientation. She has a genuine interest in their needs and concerns. She assesses each situation with questions in order to determine the optimal solution and provide relevant advice.

Bottom line: Customer-facing employees should be empowered to create a unique and memorable customer experience that’s not always outlined in a standard training manual. The towel burritos are a perfect reminder that it can be as simple as addressing customers’ needs and doesn’t have to break the bank.

What simple things can you do to create memorable experiences for your long-term customers?
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