In an interview with CustomerService.ae, Dimitri Koutsoubakis, Chief Operations Officer at Fit Republik, one of UAE’s leading fitness center, touches upon various factors that combine to provide a customer centric experience dedicated to helping customers become “better versions of themselves.”
Q: In what ways does Fit Republik offer a customer-centric environment to its visitors and club members?
Dimitri Koutsoubakis: Member Experience is at the heart of Fit Republik’s business model, and is reflected in every process and operating procedure. We have a dedicated Customer Experience Manager and a Member Experience Team, tasked with the responsibility of maintaining feedback flow from members to FR management, following through on remedial actions, and proactively executing continuous improvement interventions.
Q: In terms of customer experience, what does Fit Republik offer which other gyms in the region don’t?
Dimitri Koutsoubakis: At Fit Republik, customer experience is “owned” by a manager with the explicit responsibility to drive improvements in service quality, on the basis of objective and measurable KPIs. Customer experience is dealt with on the basis of budgeted targets and proactive management, rather than as a reactive “troubleshooting” matter.
Q: What kind of memberships, loyalty and rewards programs do you offer to get visitors to sign up? Please describe some key benefits of being a Fit Republik customer?
Dimitri Koutsoubakis: Fit Republik doesn’t believe in deploying the typical “gimmicky” array of loyalty and rewards programs. Instead, we include our members in micro-communities of peers who share the same values, objectives, and mindset, giving our people the legitimate sense of belonging to an extended family dedicated to lifelong improvement of oneself.
Q: What are your processes for handling crowd management during peak hours?
Dimitri Koutsoubakis:Fit Republik employs a sophisticated booking system to ensure our members have access to the services they desire. Members access a booking portal and book themselves into specific classes as desired; once they arrive to participate in a pre-booked class, they are required to validate the booking.
Q: What kind of customer oriented trainings do your staff and trainers receive, and what customer care elements do you emphasize upon?
Dimitri Koutsoubakis: Customer care and service quality training is ongoing across all departments and the entire organizational structure. This includes a broad range of items, from telephone manner to complaint handling, salesmanship to negotiation skills.
Q: What kind of soft skills, other than fitness expertise, should a trainer possess, in order to be an effective trainer?
Dimitri Koutsoubakis: Strong interpersonal skills, time management, capability to mentor and motivate, empathy and emotional intelligence.
Q: What varied methodologies do you employ to cater to different customer mindsets?
Dimitri Koutsoubakis: This is virtually impossible to answer – at Fit Republik, we have members as young as 6 months, and as old as 76 years. We have professional athletes. We have ordinary people. We have amateur enthusiasts. We have triathletes, martial artists, CrossFitters, Olympic weightlifters, yogis, and so many more. Our strength is our coaches – no matter the discipline, we employ experts, and they match the methodology to the community.
Q: What digital platforms does Fit Republik use to connect with online visitors, and address inquiries and concerns?
Dimitri Koutsoubakis: All the usual social media platforms under the “ownership” of a dedicated social media specialist.
Q: How do you measure customer satisfaction of members with their overall experience?
Dimitri Koutsoubakis:Our Customer Experience Manager plans and deploys an annual program of service quality surveys and F2F focus groups, converting responses into a dashboard comprising service quality KPIs.
About Dimitri Koutsoubakis
Dr. Dimitri Koutsoubakis left an academic and executive career (most recently with Microsoft), to join the team that founded Fit Republik at Dubai Sports City in 2015, as its Chief Operations Officer.
In his own words, it may have taken a lifetime, but Fit Republik is the destination his whole life’s journey has led to. Everything – from his academic training as a mathematician to his academic career in decision sciences; his entrepreneurial ventures in Marketing Research & Business Intelligence to his corporate roles with Lenovo and Microsoft; his lifelong passion for fitness and training – has culminated in Fit Republik, a large-scale Sports Center that is unprecedented in terms of scope and innovation.