Some time ago I wrote about my road to recovery after a back injury and indicated that yoga was on my list of things to try. Well, I finally went to my first yoga class, and as of this writing I’ve been to five. Trust me when I say that yoga isn’t a great look on me. I have no balance, I’m inflexible, and I sweat so much that my yoga mat is more like a slide ‘n slide than a yoga mat by the end of class. Add onto that the fact that exercising with a bunch of strangers isn’t necessarily an environment I thrive in.
But here’s the deal. After each class I’m relaxed, refreshed, and that little twinge of back pain that’s still hanging on dissipates for a bit. For that and a few other reasons I’ll keep going back. Whether you realize it or not, there are customer experience insights to be gained from a yoga class. Here are five that I have observed in my short time there.
A friendly smile and warm welcome puts visitors at ease
How often have we called customer service or walked into a store and were greeted with an insincere, monotone, “Hello, thanks for visiting.”? Too many times to count, right? On my first visit to the yoga class I couldn’t have been more awkward. I stood there trying to figure out where to sit and observed my classmates practicing all sorts or stretches and poses. That’s when Jenn, the instructor entered the room and introduced herself with a warm welcome and a smile. She then helped me get situated and put me at ease before class started.
Listening builds connections
Next, Jenn asked me a bit about myself and why I came to yoga. I told her that I was a beginner and talked about my back injury and the fact that I was excited to do something that could help me gain strength and flexibility. Her response to this was interesting. She asked if it would be alright to share my story with the class. And when she did so, she used it as an opportunity to bring the class back to some of the basics of yoga.
Zero pressure to be who I’m not
If you’re worried about feeling out of place or being shamed at yoga, stop right there. Sure, when you see people doing headstands and hanging out on one leg for extended periods of time, it can be easy to feel like you don’t measure up. But Jenn is always quick to emphasize that, while we’re in community, this is a personal practice and we’re all at different stages in our journey. So rather than focusing on how I compare to the person next to me, I feel at ease focusing on how I’m progressing in my personal practice.
Gentle correction is appreciated
Besides lacking the motivation to consistently do yoga at home, one of the great things about the class is the gentle correction, encouragement, and coaching from the instructor. Perhaps I need to raise an arm or a leg higher or I’m simply doing the whole thing wrong, the coaching is always delivered with an air of, “I’m just helping you along in your journey. Try it this way.”
It’s not just Jenn. It’s the whole gym
You might think that Jenn, the instructor is the star. Actually, it’s everyone at Grotto Climbing where I practice yoga. It started with my first email to ask for information about yoga classes and where I was greeted with an incredibly helpful response.
It continued when I walked into class the other night and saw that the name of the class had changed. Immediately panicking and fearing inadequacy, I asked the guy at the front desk if I was good enough to join that class. He again put me at ease saying, “This class is for everyone. Jenn is a great instructor. We’re just so glad you’re here to be a part of it.” I’ve had several conversations like this to reassure me that I’m right where I should be.
As I conclude, I hope you can tell that I’m totally geeked up on yoga right now — and for good reason. Sure, it has a lot to do with the fact that my back feels the best it has felt in well over a year. But it also has a lot to do with the incredible customer experience that starts with the fact that I’m consistently accepted for who I am.
What can you do in your organization to create a similarly welcoming and accepting experience for your customers? Leave us a comment with your thoughts.