Innovations in customer experience have always been driven by speed and convenience.
If you look at the evolution of customer communication from face-to-face, to phone, to fax, then email, now messaging and live chat, businesses are always looking for ways to create a customer experience that is fast and easy, while still trying to maintain a personal touch.
In this case study, we will highlight Weight Watchers Las Vegas and how they transformed their communication strategy to improve retention while building stronger relationships with members.
About Weight Watchers
As a pioneer in the health and fitness industry focusing on weight management, Weight Watchers has evolved over the years from friends getting together to discuss weight-loss strategies in the early 1960s to now having millions of members all over the world.
The core of what makes Weight Watchers so successful is the meetings and workshops that help coaches motivate members as well as members motivating each other.
Changes in the Fitness Industry
As a third generation franchise owner of Weight Watchers in Las Vegas and also a member, Chief of Operations Heather Avila has seen it all when it comes to the evolution of the fitness and weight loss industry.
“The industry landscape has changed dramatically,” she said in a recent webinar. “While we had a few competitors in the past, there are a sea of competitors out there with the biggest one being people who try to do it on their own. And logical things are available like apps, different trackers and social media tools. But we are trying to communicate that it’s really about the human connection and those relationships are built in our workshops.”
“We like to say that we’re the original social network because we are people coming together to help each other on their weight-loss journeys.”
Much of Weight Watchers’ success, Heather said, relied on members actively attending meetings and workshops to support each other in their weight-loss journeys. In recent years though, attendance had been falling as new competition grew and it became harder to reach members through traditional phone calls and emails. The personal connection was being lost.
A New Way to Engage Members
In an effort to help retain members and keep them motivated to attend workshops, an advertising agency that Heather was working with proposed the idea of sending out weekly motivational text messages to members.
This idea was a good first step to improving communication but was limited in that there was no data on who viewed the message and it was only a one-way push message, meaning members couldn’t respond to those messages.
Heather quickly realized she needed a more robust solution that would enable her to create more personal conversations with members and also be available to answer their questions whenever they needed.
After partnering with Zingle and deploying its messaging-based customer engagement platform, Heather started introducing more text communications to new members as well as existing ones. By collecting key information like name, location and meeting ID, Heather and her staff were able to personalize meeting and workshop reminders to all her members in an automated way.
“We continued with messaging the way we were doing it before and then so much more,” Heather said. “I could have never imagined what text messaging was capable of and the relationships that could be built with it.”
“Zingle has truly revolutionized how we communicate with members.”
The Impact of Messaging on Member Retention
Before having a texting service, members would often forget to attend classes and Weight Watchers had spots open they could otherwise be filling. With real-time text notifications sent directly to each member, Weight Watchers Las Vegas has seen far fewer missed appointments and been able to retain more members.
Texting has also provided a quick and easy way for members to ask questions and get immediate support, which helps build that personal relationship so important to the brand and with coaches.
“Those messages are being sent directly to many of our members, but they don’t realize it is a mass message going out to everyone in that particular workshop because it really does feel personalized,” Heather said, adding that they also use it for staff communications. “It’s a quick and efficient way for us to also communicate with our staff whether it’s a quick change on a promotion or a reminder for a staff call.”
Weight Watchers hasn’t just used messaging to send informational reminders. With the customer support team headquartered in Las Vegas and members spread across Nevada and Utah, Heather said it was hard to have natural conversations with members on a daily basis like they do now with texting. Members can text to say they are struggling or to celebrate a milestone.
“We’ve never had that before,” she said. “People don’t want to call into a phone number and sit through a dial prompt and wait for someone to pick up to say, ‘Hey, I just lost two pounds.’ It has really deepened our relationship with members in a profound way.”
Due to the success she saw with texting, Heather replaced all of the phone numbers listed on marketing materials, signs and even the company van to show the texting number to non-members who might be interested in joining. Heather gets more leads now and is able to better nurture those potential members in a fast and more personalized way.
Overall, the use of texting has opened up a whole new communication channel that supported Weight Watchers members and helped add new ones in a way that was not possible with phone calls or emails.
“It’s developing that deeper relationship with our members so that they can be more loyal to our brand and find more success with us because they know we’re there for them,” Heather said.
Now is the time for businesses to rethink the way they communicate with customers to provide an elevated level of convenience and personalization that they expect. Messaging is the only channel that enables real-time communication tailored to each person and can help businesses build lifelong relationships with their customers.