Abbeycroft Leisure has a vision to inspire healthier, active communities through excellent facilities, cutting-edge experiences and strong partnerships.
The social enterprise serves 13 Suffolk communities, managing 18 facilities, including West Suffolk Council and Babergh District Council leisure provision, while being a trusted partner to NHS West Suffolk CCG, Suffolk Mind and Allied Health Professionals Suffolk.
In line with its strategic vision, the trust launched an innovative customer experience-focused self-service model, at the Haverhill Leisure Centre. The goal was to transform the site to self-service, implement automated payments and a near-cashless reception, plus introduce customer hosts to focus on high quality customer engagement around health and wellbeing. The site would act as the trust’s exemplar site; an aspirational model that Abbeycroft could roll out across its other centres.
Karen Points, strategic director, Abbeycroft Leisure, comments: “As a not-for-profit social enterprise, financial surplus is re-invested into our services.
“We have a strong commitment to our communities, so it’s vital that our services reflect their needs. We recognised our facilities needed to become even more intrinsic to communities by bringing together elements of their health, fitness and wellbeing journeys under one roof. This involved a re-engineering of how people could engage with us and technology was the enabler.”
Abbeycroft turned to long-standing partner, Legend Club Management Systems, to implement changes in three phases:
Phase 1: Introducing the New Customer Operating Model
In January 2019, Haverhill Leisure Centre re-opened to customers, sporting a remodelled reception area featuring Legend’s self-service Fast-Pay Kiosks instead of traditional reception desks. On these kiosks, customers can buy activities, courts, swims and ticket-based transactions using the touchscreen, which enables contactless, automated payment.
Abbeycroft then extended its use of the Legend ‘One System, One Solution’ platform to increase e-bookings and take payments by implementing a centralised Customer Service Call Centre.
“Our aim is to make it easy for customers to access our sites and services,” says Points. “Removing barriers and inefficiencies from the customer journey by introducing automation and deploying the right technology is key.
“We also want to give staff the skills and capabilities to create more interesting roles, as this will enhance our community offer.”
Abbeycroft and Legend’s team worked with Haverhill staff to plan how to realise the new service, focusing on becoming customer hosts and evolving their roles into advisors, facilitating NHS studio appointments, physiotherapy and Atrial Fibrillation testing.
Phase 2: Building the Exemplar
Over eight weeks, the team honed experiences at Haverhill, improving customer digital interactions to 68 per cent; halving the number of ‘clicks’ on the kiosks; improving call answering by 60 per cent; halving the number of missed calls; as well as developing and implementing a training programme for call agents and customer hosts to increase confidence.
“Getting our first site working as seamlessly as possible was key to the successful roll-out of the new customer operating model across the whole organisation,” Points says. “Our aim is to achieve a channel shift to ‘digital-first’ for class bookings, online joining, automated payments, and to increase efficiency and productivity. This will allow us to focus efforts on enriching community health and wellbeing.”
Abbeycroft trained Haverhill staff to test customers and identify signs of Atrial Fibrillation (AF) requiring investigation. Points says. “Public Health England supported us, as statistics indicate 1,700 people in West Suffolk have undiagnosed AF. It’s a simple test, which reaches more people when conducted in a leisure facility versus a medical centre.”
“152 people were tested in the first week, with five referred to their GPs after showing signs of AF – a potential five strokes avoided, the co-ordinator of West Suffolk CCG has said. A tangible example of our staff having more meaningful interaction with people and adding community value.”
Phase 3: Broadening the Reach
Abbeycroft Leisure is now rolling out its new customer operating model across other sites, starting with the largest centre: Bury St Edmunds.
Call centre technology went live in December 2019, and agents were trained on sites they were not familiar with. Legend Kiosks go live this month (Feb 2020).
“Haverhill showed a direct correlation between increased kiosk use and decreased reliance on reception. We're extremely excited by this initiative,“ says Points. “Increasingly, leisure operators have an opportunity and duty of care to improve the health of their communities beyond the traditional ‘gym’ setting. This is a partnership between us, our public health bodies and Legend. It’s a model that's fit for the future and which we can replicate across the UK.”