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Personal Training Client Complaints – A Step-by-Step Process to Address Them

No one likes to see their personal training clients unhappy. You may not know how to proceed when personal training client complaints come in. What should you do first when taking on the issue?

Remember that most customer and client complaints occur because of a disconnect between what the client expected and what they received. This can be due to their assumptions, miscommunication, or hundreds of other things. Ultimately, you still need to handle the complaint gracefully, no matter the cause. It’s important to keep in mind that you are running a business and building a brand.

Here are some steps to follow when handling client complaints.

Step 1: Listen, Ask, Understand

Personal training client complaints may come to you directly, through an email, or in a review posted publicly. Once you receive the complaint, it’s essential that you first focus on listening and understanding the client.

Read the complaint multiple times to get an idea of the issue. Empathize with the client as best you can, and keep calm as you work towards a response. If you aren’t clear about the problem, don’t hesitate to ask questions.

Asking questions can look like this:

  • What was the issue with X?
  • What do you mean when you say Y?
  • Could you give me an example of Z?

In addition to asking the client questions, ask yourself these questions before you proceed:

  • What are they upset about?
  • Why is this complaint happening?
  • What information do I need from the client to address this complaint?
  • What information do I need from any other parties to address this complaint?
  • Am I making assumptions about the client or complaint?

These questions will help you sort out the problem. They can help you understand what can solve it, and how you can help. You must be calm as you work through this process. Getting upset and confrontational makes it more difficult to find common ground and understanding.

Step 2: Own Your Mistakes

Succeeding as a fitness coach means you will make mistakes from time to time. Unintentional as they may be, it’s important to own up to these mistakes when they happen. Take ownership of the problem, and be prepared to apologize when a customer complaint identifies a genuine error.

That doesn’t mean you need to take ownership of personal training client complaints that are not your responsibility. Avoid confrontation, but it is OK to show that you disagree while empathetically understanding where a personal training client complaint is coming from. 

However, if you didn’t deliver on what you promised to your client, it’s imperative to own up to that problem and make it right to show that you are serious about providing a great experience.

personal training client complaint

Step 3: Find a Solution

When building a blog for your business or setting up your business plan, you work through several steps to generate a quality product. The same should apply when finding a solution for a client complaint.

Once you know why the client is upset, consider what you can do to make it right If they were unhappy with the amount of time given at certain sessions, offering free sessions to balance the mistake may be a good solution. The solution should replace the perceived value lost to the client in the original situation.

Be sure to ask the client if they are satisfied with the solution and if there is anything else that they are wanting you to do. Reaching back out to them to ensure their satisfaction is critical, and it will show that you genuinely care to correct the issue which caused their complaint.

If the client is unhappy with their results, is it because you could have done something differently, or is it due to them not adhering to the program you designed for them? For unhappiness due to something you did or didn’t do, you can offer them discounted sessions and ensure that you do those things you should have done. If the unhappiness is due to the client’s lack of program adherence, show them the data on what they didn’t do. FitSW tracks client compliance so that you have this data. You could advise them that they can continue training with better results if they raise their compliance. Maybe even give bonus sessions for hitting certain compliance rates.

Step 4: Keep a Record

If you don’t already, set up a system where you can log client complaints. Something as simple as a folder on your computer or you can use FitSW’s profile notes feature. Use these notes to save details of each complaint and how you handled it.

These records will allow you to revisit past problems to understand how they were addressed and to make future improvements to your system. Having a record log in place ensures that your experience with every client serves to improve what you provide to prospective clients.

Step 5: Escalating Your Response

After addressing client complaints, you may come across issues with outstanding invoices. Some clients believe that if they complain about your services, then they do not need to pay their bills. However, that is not always the case.

The client should still pay off their outstanding invoice promptly once you have addressed their complaint. If the client is prepaying for sessions or is on a subscription plan, this won’t be a problem. However, if they are not, you will need to address this.

Contact the client and gently remind them about the outstanding invoice. Ensure that you have handled their complaint to their satisfaction. If they still do not pay off the invoice, it might be time to write a demand letter.

This can get tricky. Sometimes, you may forgive a client’s bill due to the complaint and move forward without payment. In most cases, however, your solution to their problem will not need to include such a drastic step and will instead involve finding a middle ground.

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