What is front desk software?
AI-powered front desk software is designed to help businesses save time, generate leads, automate client engagement and maximize revenue. In this post, we’ll focus on how it’s used by businesses in the fitness industry. This includes gyms, health clubs, yoga studios and specialty providers.
Whether your business is membership- or class-based, there’s never been a better time to take advantage of this powerful technology. There are three main reasons it’s particularly timely in 2023:
- Artificial Intelligence providers have advanced the technology to the point where it can achieve a significant level of automation
- Platforms are now affordable for any size fitness business
- The majority of consumers are comfortable with AI automation and prefer 24/7 self-service over waiting for a call back from a staff member
Before we continue, it’s important to understand that the label “front desk software” is a broad term that applies to a variety of front desk-related tasks. The foundational function, however, is a Virtual Receptionist. When a member (or potential member) calls your business and a staff member doesn’t pick up the call, an AI-powered Virtual Receptionist answers the call and offers the caller the opportunity to opt into SMS communication. Similarly, a website visitor that engages with a chatbot can elect to move the conversation to texting.
This Virtual Receptionist function is the portal through which clients opt into your AI-led front desk system. Once you’ve established that link, you can take advantage of dozens of features. These include appointment booking, class signups, waiver submission, payment system access, business inquiries and membership renewals.
How does the software converse with members?
Now, let’s break down an SMS exchange between AI-led front desk software and a member or prospect. Once the caller opts in, they immediately receive a text message which kicks off the conversation.
Here is a real-life example:
(AI Front Desk Software) What can I assist you with today?
- Book a new appointment
- Reschedule an appointment
- Cancel an appointment
- Register for a class
- Something else
Please choose from above.
(AI Front Desk Software) The appointment I’m seeing on Mon, Mar 13 at 5:45 p.m. for [Customer Name] is a Personal Training Session – 60 Minutes with [Service Provider Name]. Is this the one you want to reschedule?
(AI Front Desk Software) Thanks for confirming the details. Here are some times we have available for a Personal Training Session 60 Minutes with [Service Provider Name] on Mar 13:
- 11:15 a.m. (earliest availability)
- 1:30 a.m.
- 4:15 p.m. (last availability)
- Suggest other days or times
Please choose from the above
(Member) Do you have anything on March 20?
Here are some times we have available on Mon, March 20 for Personal Training Session 60 Minutes with [Service Provider Name]:
- 1:45 p.m. (earliest availability)
- 4:30 p.m.
- 7:45 p.m (last availability)
- Suggest other days or times
Please choose from the above
(AI Front Desk Software) Ok, you are all set! Your updated appointment details:
Mon. Mar 20 at 4:30 p.m. for Personal Training Session with [Service Provider Name]
As you can see, advanced AI can converse in natural language and perform complex transactions.
How many callers opt into texting?
Our clients see a high rate of participation as consumers increasingly appreciate around-the-clock self-service. 2020 research by Simply Texting found that 41.3% of businesses had seen an increase in opt-in messages.
Consider that a large percentage of consumers have been favoring human-less customer service for decades. Think ATMs, pay-at-the-pump, and online flight booking. During the pandemic, people who had previously used traditional methods started doing things like ordering groceries online from their local market and shopping on Amazon, further expanding its use. For the most part, these later adopters discovered that automation can be fast and convenient.
Business texting has gained traction in the past five years as channels like email have become more crowded, and the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically accelerated adoption. Out of all businesses that started texting in 2020, 34% did so as a direct result of the pandemic and 77% of those businesses say they’ll keep texting after it’s through. ZipWhip
A key advantage of an AI system for the fitness industry is that you can program it to converse about multiple topics. For example:
- Services available
- Class schedules
- Business hours, address, parking info
- Membership details
- Cancellation policies
- Online bookings
In addition, the AI provider will work with you to program the engine to use language and phrasing consistent with your brand voice.
Can AI-led front desk software provide good customer service?
Successful gym owners understand the importance of customer service and member culture. The gym down the street may have similar equipment and classes but the quality of member service is one of the ways you can differentiate your business. With that in mind, consider what your AI engine can do when conversing with a member:
- Greet the member by name just as you would in person
- Thank them for calling
- Ask them what they want to do (book an appointment, sign up for a class, renew their membership, etc.)
- Complete the request
- Confirm the transaction
Front desk software can provide consistent, on-brand service around the clock. In addition, just as an employee improves their skills over time as they get to know the business and members, the AI engine learns from its interactions and is able to perform increasingly complex tasks. Moreover, AI prevents human error inherent with day to day tasks and manual processes. For example, it prevents double bookings and answers questions accurately.
Increase Revenue Without Hiring or Working Longer Hours
Automated guest and member management helps businesses in the fitness industry gain new members without hiring additional staff. With automated guest engagement, personalized customer service, and AI-powered analytics, reception software can help gyms and other fitness businesses stay competitive in an increasingly digital landscape.
For example, managers can quickly identify which clients are at risk of dropping out and take action to keep them engaged. You can also use the software to promote special offers, share class schedules, send out customer surveys, and more. Consistent guest satisfaction is critical for retention and scaling your business.
Automate Social Engagement
AI-powered management also helps businesses stay connected with their members on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. The system can quickly respond to messages and comments, helping you build stronger relationships with your members. Remember, every interaction in any channel is a lead and should be handled with care.
The fact that platforms centralize communications provides additional benefits. Your entire team can access a front desk module from anywhere with an internet connection, simplifying collaboration for hybrid teams and businesses with a reception-less model. This can also be an important part of your disaster preparedness plan.
Integrating with payment software and an online booking engine creates a comprehensive platform. This eliminates the need for multiple systems and further streamlines administrative tasks.
Additionally, integrated reception software allows owners and managers to track customer data and gain insights into their guest experience and customer preferences.
Let’s recap the key features and benefits:
- AI-led scheduling
- Automated renewal reminders
- Immediate lead follow-up
- 24/7 customer service
- Centralize guest communications for multi-locations
- Consolidate web chat, text and phone communications in one smart inbox
- User-friendly dashboard updated in real-time
- Access to guest profiles
- Automated guest messaging
What about the callers who don’t opt into SMS?
There will always be a minority of people who only want to interact with a member of your desk staff. By providing automation to the majority, your team has the time to engage personally with the 10-20 percent of guests who prefer human interaction. This allows you to provide exceptional service to all members regardless of communication preferences.
For more information, schedule a demo of our front desk software for fitness businesses.