What Planet Fitness Did to Improve Their Customer Experience

by Sean Boyce

You’ve been building your product business for a while now, but something is missing.  

Has your product experienced either of the following?

  • Is adoption for your product OK, but at some point in the cycle, users are dropping off?
  • Has your product been sticky for customers, but getting them onto your platform is a heavy lift?

If so, you may be lacking in user experience (UX), customer experience (CX) or both.

Many product companies don’t build their business to provide an experience – they do it to solve a problem.  While this is a great start, it’s merely the tip of the iceberg. To really build a great product, you need a complete customer experience lifecycle.  

Customer experience is a journey, it’s NOT a milestone.  If you build your product in a very transactional way, that will lead to a very mechanical customer experience that will not translate well to the product success you are looking for.

Your user and customer experience is likely lacking for one of the following reasons:

  • You are missing pieces of the puzzle (big picture)
  • You’re lacking customer feedback at every step of the journey
  • The plan you are following is based only on the destination 

One of my favorite case studies in customer experience done right is Planet Fitness.  If you haven’t been, Planet Fitness is one of the most successful franchises in the US.  It’s a gym that promises no judgement. All our welcome to come exercise as much (or as little) as they want.  

So what lessons can we learn from Planet Fitness about creating a great user and customer experience?

Know who your customer is (and is not)

No one knows their customers better than Planet Fitness. Their gym isn’t for fitness junkies. Their gym is for regular people that just want the opportunity to get in shape.

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They’ve doubled down here with their incredibly effective marketing efforts.  From messages all over the gym walls to hilarious commercials poking fun at extreme bodybuilders, you know what kind of experience you are going to get at Planet Fitness.  

Know your customers needs and wants

Planet Fitness knows their members don’t want to be judged.  Plastered all over the walls of their gyms is the fact that it’s a ‘Judgement Free Zone’.  So what do they do to maintain this? Well for one, they have something called a ‘lunk alarm’ that they will set off in the gym if someone is being too loud and obnoxious.  It’s all in an effort to maintain the judgement free zone and despite how the lunks may feel – it works.  

Free pizza and bagel day

At one point in building their company, Planet Fitness realized they had a problem.  People were signing up, but for those that rarely went to the gym, they would eventually cancel their membership.  They knew they had to do something to fix this problem.  

Welcome to free pizza and bagel day.  Each Planet Fitness gym is typically oversubscribed by 4-5X and they count on that as part of their business model.  It’s how they are able to offer their membership at such a low rate (starts at $10/month). However, being this oversubscribed only works out because most of their members are infrequent gym goers.  With one exception – free pizza and bagel day.

The Planet Fitness team figured out if they offered free pizza and bagels once a month, people would maintain those members ships because it would draw them back to the gym.  This led to a dramatic drop in membership cancellations. Problem solved.

Want to know more about how to improve your product’s customer experience journey?  Let’s talk it through, email me at sean@nxtstep.io or visit us on the web at NxtStep.

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