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Barry’s: how to grow your customer service ‘gains’

Susanne Axelsson
Susanne Axelsson
December 27, 2021
Barry’s: how to grow your customer service ‘gains’

Devin spoke at our Global Frontline Experience Summit 2022 in an insightful Q&A session. Listen in above. If you missed the summit, don't worry! All of the powerful sessions are available right here.

“Workout hard and be nice” is the simple yet powerful mantra of leading fitness brand Barry’s (fitness studio), encapsulating the culture and reinforcing the values that have made this global business as successful as it is today with more than 82 locations around the world. 

Devin Murphy, the company’s Senior Vice President of Operations, started her journey with the brand as a diehard client in New York City when she was training with them as a former competitive swimmer. She’s spent the past seven years working for the business at the intersection of her strengths and passion and it’s this attitude that’s contagious and influential throughout the business.

We spoke to her to find out more about how she ensures ‘Barry’s’ continues to ‘flex’ its customer success muscles. 

Using values as a cornerstone of your business

Devin is a big believer in the power of using values to formulate and sharpen a company’s mission and decisions. At Barry’s, three integral values are upheld at all times: family, fun and innovation. 

“Our values are the way we do business. They show up throughout our culture, filtering down to even our annual review process which formulated around them”

says Devin.  

She goes on to explain the power of each of these…

Value One: Family  

“To us, Barry’s is a family and we focus on how we treat and trust one another on an ongoing basis - from the atmosphere in studios, to celebrating the small things”

To do this, Barry’s gives every studio a monthly budget devoted to staff and client experience with the sole purpose of ‘making someone’s day’. “We send flowers, toast a lot of champagne and eat a lot of cupcakes and donuts for a fitness company. It’s about celebrating individuals and communities.” 

Value Two: Fun 

“If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong,” believes Devin. 

Barry’s wants customers to look forward to coming to a workout; to inspire them to get off the couch and get into the studio. The best way of doing that is to make fun happen in as many different ways as possible. 

“We find things to celebrate! It starts with someone being brave enough to come for their first time - a lot of people are terrified to go to a gym.The next moment that we honor is 10 classes; we know that someone is building a habit with us, and that's really exciting for us as a company.” 

Tailored celebrating is important too, says Devin. Some people might want to shout their achievements out from the rooftops, while others may prefer something a little more private. 

“We recently had a client celebrate 3000 classes with us. We took one of our studio benches that people do the floor exercise portion of their workout on, and we spray painted it and had the client’s initials painted on it. When she went to take her spot that day, she had a custom piece of studio equipment waiting for her, which of course we hand delivered to her home afterwards.” 

Value Three: Innovation  

“A good idea really can come from anywhere” believed Devin who is a big advocate of  encouraging team members to share ideas and then empowering them to give the idea a try - sometimes with surprising results. 

She adds that innovation is sorely needed in the current global climate. 

“One of our team members in California came up with the idea to use lightboxes in the studio as a way of celebrating client achievements. This was a fun, retro way to get a message across quickly and it felt like ‘us’. From there, we started to scale it across the country and now the lightbox is something systematically built into our milestone programme and part of our studio life - something we do every year for our customers.”

Problems met with innovation result in improvement 

Even if everyone does their job perfectly from now until the end of time, stuff will still go wrong, cautions Devin who adds that it’s always possible to make someone feel good while delivering bad news.

Barry’s is well-known for taking advantage of potentially ‘bad’ scenarios and tipping them on their head. One very early morning in New York, a team member opened the gym at 4.30am, right before a 5am class, to discover the power was out. “The only thing on our mind was: how are we going to make this right for clients? No one gets up and checks their email before coming to a 5am class… and we can’t turn clients away when they’s braved the cold at that time of the day. So we did our first weight workout by candlelight!” 

For those booked into later classes, the team booked slots at a nearby studio in Park Avenue. “We had a line of Uber SUVs parked outside the front door and when clients came for their class, we apologised, then offered them a ride and alternative workout, on us. Every single person who showed up was still given the opportunity to work out. It became this nice little community builder - groups of people having Uber rides together. That was us putting our collective innovative minds to work.” 

Remember what it's like to be the consumer  

Devin says that Barry’s always encourages its frontline team members to remember what it feels like to be a consumer - and to tap into that knowledge and understanding around what makes an experience a great, or not-so-great one. 

She shares her own experiences of excellent customer - a recent flight from LA to Miami with American Airlines flight attendant Jeffrey - as an example of standout service. 

“How he took care of people really stuck with me. He came around before the flight started and introduced himself, asking ‘Can I call you Devin?’ At the end of the flight, he came past and thanked me for my loyalty. We realized through the course of our conversation that we would be on the same return flight together. Sure enough, two days later, he remembered me and asked ‘How was your week Devin?’ I know how many people they see day in and day out. The fact that he had remembered our interaction and was able to continue to build the relationship two days later was remarkable. Now, I really look forward to seeing him on more flights.” That is the benchmark. 

“Live out your values as a company. Innovate. Focus on your customer. They aren’t difficult things; but they’re important things and if you can get them right, your customer service muscles will keep on growing,” concludes Devin.

Susanne Axelsson

About the Author

Susanne Axelsson
Susanne is the Frontline Community Evangelist as well as the author and researcher for Frontline Magic Handbook. She believes happy customers are born out of great experiences. Great experiences are delivered by motivated frontline people.
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