Many years ago, I was a 10-year-old ball boy for my tennis coach, Rick. For eight hours a day, six days a week, I carried a ball hopper and picked up balls so Rick’s lessons could go uninterrupted. At the end of each day, Rick would hit balls with me for an hour as payment. I did this for three summers.
During his lessons, Rick would sometimes have me demonstrate particular techniques to his students. One day, he was feeding me volleys to show his beginning player how they should look. After a few balls, the player looked at me, turned to Rick with a huge smile and said “Now, I get it.” At that moment, I knew that I wanted to teach tennis.
As corny as that story sounds, it is the absolute truth. Now, fifty years later, I’m happy to say that I’ve enjoyed a fabulous career in the tennis industry. Along the way, I learned many things. Among the most important is that, for us, tennis is a business, and the most important element of that business is customer service.
In today’s world, people have more options than ever as far as where to spend their recreational dollars. For them to come to (and stay with) you, you must do more than simply teach them how to hit the ball and play the game. You have to give them a great experience.
There’s an old saying which tells us that a “satisfied customer is a happy customer.” In these competitive times, “satisfied” won’t cut it. When a person leaves your lesson court or facility, you don’t want them to be merely satisfied with the experience. You want them to be excited. Satisfied they can get anywhere. Excited is special and makes them want more.
A person who is excited by their experience with you will not only become a loyal client, they’ll spread the word to their friends. We’ve all had players come to us because “Jane takes lessons from you and says you’re fantastic!”
If just one of your students recommends you to a friend, the snowball effect can be tremendous. Word of mouth is the strongest and most effective form of advertising--both positive and negative.
Studies have shown that a happy customer will tell 4-5 of their friends how wonderful you are while unhappy customers will tell 9-12 of their buddies how bad their experience with you was.
The key to building a successful following is to be able to turn your customers into clients, and the way to do that is with superb customer service—both on and off the court.
Kirk Anderson, an award winning-tennis professional and educator says “As tennis professionals, we must realize that we are on the front line of the service industry. We serve our members and students in many more ways than simply teaching tennis.”
I wrote the following pages as a short supplement to the course you’ve just completed. As you read, you’ll find reinforcement of the key points covered during the course as well as specific examples from my career which I hope will help you become a more effective customer service professional.
I’ve also included a few quotes from Kirk as well as Jack Mitchell and Lee Cockerell--three people who have taught me much about the Tennis and Customer Service industries.
If you have questions, or if I can be of help in any way, please feel free to contact me via email at Gmoran@4seasonstennis.com or give me a call at (203) 417-3845
Thank you very much and best of luck!