Donna Hutchinson is the owner of On The Edge Fitness Educators, which offers fitness education courses, workshops and seminars focused on assisting fitness professionals in building their careers. She is the president and founder of the International Fitness Network Association, serving to unite fitness professionals from around the world. She has worked in corporate wellness centers, community recreation facilities, private health clubs and as an independent personal trainer. Hutchinson is a media personality in Vancouver, British Columbia, and has become one of Canada's leading speaker in the area of business development. Hutchinson can be reached at edgefit@shaw.ca.

Have you ever experienced such terrible customer service that you can't believe it? Are you frustrated by businesses that just don't seem to get it? Why does there seem to be such a dichotomy of experiences with respect to customer service? Don't businesses want us to purchase their products or services? Where have all the good service people gone, and when did this aspect of business become so eroded?

Although we may occasionally encounter good service, more often than not, customer service is quite dreadful. Think about the last time you received such outstanding service that you actually gasped, wow, that was incredible. The good news is that with a little bit of thought, implementation, positioning and structure, your business can easily set itself apart from the ordinary. You can create a "wow" factor experience that customers will never forget, just by using four "TIPS" on how to create blow-their-mind, out-of-this-world customer service.

T: Think about the experience you wish to provide.
For your customer service to reach the pinnacle of success, keep in mind what you can do to make the customer feel extra special. Brainstorming with others can help you come up with ideas. Staff and management can work together by sharing their personal experiences about receiving out-of-this-world customer service. Use the ideas generated through the brainstorming sessions and the sharing of stories to pick out ideas that you can implement in your facility.

I: Implement your customer service plan.
Once you have thought about the level of service you would like to provide, create systems to support its implementation. Consistency is paramount to its success. Whatever you decide your new level of customer service will be, you need to ensure that you have the resources available to support its on-going implementation. When you take your customer service to the next level, people will come to appreciate it and then expect it. If you are inconsistent, they will notice, and it will be worse than if you had just provided adequate customer service all along. So when thinking about your new strategy, make sure that staff can actually follow through.

P: Position the right people in the right job.
You need service-oriented management, but where do you find these service-minded individuals? Keep your eyes and ears open when you visit other businesses. If you think the person helping you is doing a fantastic job and they are clearly service oriented, give them a business card. Let them know that if they are considering making a change, you may have an opportunity within your organization. You can also ask your star service people if they know someone who possesses similar skills. Often, like-minded people are attracted to each other. Chances are they have friends who are equally as adept at customer service.

S: Structure a system of feedback and evaluation.
Once you have all your systems in place and the right people to carry them out, it is time to ascertain their effect. You want to understand what impact your customer service plan is having on your bottom line. Accumulate as much feedback as you can from staff and members. Design surveys, post a blog or have a "give us your feedback" contest. Once you have collected enough information, analyze which strategies were a success and why. Drop those initiatives that weren't as well received.

You can benefit a lot when people put their best foot forward and care enough about other people to make their experiences at your club positive. When your facility commits to excellence in customer service, you can change lives. Great service can be achieved throughout an organization if everyone commits to the same vision of excellence.