The check-in desk is the first encounter of any visitor to your rec center, so it’s key to know the best practices surrounding the experience.
To make a positive and welcoming front desk environment for all, the campus rec team at the University of North Florida (UNF) employs a number of tools, beginning with customer service training.
“All fitness staff go through an extensive amount of training during the on-boarding process as well as throughout the semester,” said Kacie Smith, the fitness coordinator at UNF. “Trainings not only focus on basic concepts – such as policies and procedures, and facility rules and safety – but excellent customer service is a key component.”
Additionally, during the customer service trainings throughout the semester, staff focus on how to engage with patrons and be purposeful in their actions and interactions. “We make sure our staff have the awareness that although we love this environment, we need to be cognizant that not everyone does,” said Jim Baur, the associate director at UNF. “It’s our job to help them find a way to enjoy it, too, and ensure they learn about and enjoy exercise and healthy living.”
With adequate training and attentive staff, you can more easily ensure a smooth check-in process from the beginning. UNF also uses an ID management system that allows students to swipe in with their student ID card. This limits wait time as staff members can verify identities when their photo appears on the screen.
Other than customer service, wait time can make or break a patron’s experience. This is why UNF relies on a few practices to enhance the process:
“If someone is in line as a first-timer and needs to fill out a waiver, or for any other reason other than swiping in such as purchasing a membership or asking questions, we ask them to step over to another area of the desk in order to keep the check-in line moving,” said Baur.
“The number of check-in desk staff is important to meet facility demands. We staff two at all times to allow for guest check-in and transactions to occur at the same time. Busier times of the semester, when we anticipate more first-time guests, we increase staff during peak hours and stock up on schedules and waivers,” said Ashley Ballard, the RecWell director at UNF.
“Lines can form, causing patrons to become agitated, and we want every visit to be a positive experience. Communicating to those waiting to check in is a must to keep any agitation to a minimum, especially in the times of pre-workout,” said Danny Nutt of member services at UNF.
The results of a great check-in experience not only result in retention and happy patrons, but can also aid in attracting new visitors. “If the customers are satisfied with their experience, they automatically become marketing agents for your area,” said Heather Kite, the associate director at UNF.
Free marketing agents are those patrons your staff members leave a great impression on, and often you only get one chance to employ them. “You never receive a second chance to make a first impression,” said Nutt. “Therefore, it’s important to make sure every attendee is greeted upon arriving and leaving – our staff should care about the job they are doing and in turn care about making every guest know they are going to see a friendly face every time they visit.”
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