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The Surprising Impact of Wellness on Your CX with Sammy Courtright

Emma Waldron
17 Dec, 2018

This post is a transcript of S2 E19 of the Voices of Customer Experiences Podcast with Mary Drumond and James Conrad, featuring Sammy Courtright.

[00:06] Mary Drumond: You're listening to Voices of Customer Experience. I'm your host Mary Drumond, and on this podcast we shine the spotlight on individuals who are making a difference in customer experience. We also proudly bring you the very best of customer experience, behavior, economics, data analytics, and design. Make sure to subscribe or follow us on social for updates. Voices of customer experience is brought to you by war. Thinks, discover your worth at worthix.com.

[00:35] MD: Sammy Courtright is an attention-to-detail aficionado from the land down under who is COO at Fitspot Wellness. With a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Miami, she's a nationally certified pilates instructor who brings a blend of grit and imagination to the zillions of tasks that confront every startup. While she wears many hats at Fitspot, doing everything from sketching app screens to managing customer experience, She can't leave the house without her Akubra. We're so happy to have you on the show today. Sammy, and joining us once again is my co host, James Conrad. Thanks for coming on. James.

[01:13] James Conrad: Hey Mary. Great to be here.

[01:14] Sammy Courtright: Hey, how are you guys doing?

[01:16] JC: Excellent.

[01:17] MD: Thank you so much for being on today. To start off on the right foot and so everyone has a very clear idea of who you are and what you do, can you just give us a little rundown of your background and tell people about the awesome work you guys are doing over at Fitspot?

[01:32] SC: Sure. So I'm the cofounder and COO of Fitspot. I'm from Australia, the land down under. I moved to the US when I was 18 and then headed up to Los Angeles when I graduated college and I started working with my cofounder John at a company called Never Rest that he had started, and we were pairing personal trainers with clients in the Los Angeles area. And through a ton of customer interviews we started learning that one, wellness meant a lot more to individuals than just physical fitness. And two, we also learned that our clients wanted to bring this experience on site to their workplace for their employees to participate in. And that really led us to Fitspot and where we are today. We activate communities through onsite and virtual wellness experiences.

[02:22] MD: Well, that's awesome. You have zero Australian accent, like zero, like it's not there.

[02:27] SC: I can do the whole thing in an Australian accent and I totally know honestly, it's weird. My Dad's American, so I feel like I grew up kind of having that in my ear and then when I moved to the US it was like, goodbye. Yeah, I'm glad you can fake it so well. That's an amazing. If I get pulled over I'm like, oh my gosh. I had no idea what the speed limit is. Like I am fresh out of the outback. I have no idea. 

[02:59] JC: So we believe that great customer experience starts with a really engaged employees and that they're ultimately in the service industry, at least they're the ones that deliver the experience at the end of the day and how they feel, how engaged they are, how they're connected with the organization has a big impact on that. We've seen lots of examples of that, so I'd love to talk a little bit, Sammy, about how, how you at fits spot are working with employers to help get their teams energized. What are the sorts of things that you're doing to really drive a great employee engagement, wellness, etc.? 

[03:39] SC: Yeah, so typically when we're engaging with the prospect and talking about some of their needs and goals when it comes to a wellness program, of course one of the top factors is really engaging their employees. They want to have that productivity, that focus, that sense of community at work. But we work also with property groups, so this pertains to their entire property, corporate tenants, so on and so forth. So once we better understand what their goals would be, we'd like to survey all of the employees to be like, hey, if we were to bring wellness initiatives onsite, one, would you even participate. Two, what would you want from this wellness program? And three, what types of services would actually get you engaged? What time, what day, what type of instructor do you like, you know, the hardcore drill sergeant, or do you want more of an educational experience?

[04:25] SC: And then from that, we customize this program so each one of our programs for our clients is entirely customized based off of this survey feedback, so they feel like they have been listened to and we are bringing a program on site that they actually want. So we implement the program, we bring all of the equipment, we take all of the heavy lifting, no pun intended, off of his plate or the property manager's plate and we execute full wellness program for our clients. So throughout the feedback loop, and it's really important in this process to continue this feedback loop to hear what's working, what's not working, where are people really engaged in, were they not so engaged. And we iterate our programs monthly for clients to ensure that we're always optimizing that engagement. Yeah, it's a really, um, you know, it has to be an evolving process, right? Because people change, people's needs changed. And what's working one month for one person may not be working the next month. They may not align with their, you know, holistic wellness goals. And we really have to take that into consideration as we evolve that program and engage that feedback.

[05:33] JC: And Sammy is a wellness program, is it something that just runs on going or do you see it as, is there a particular, you know, timeframe that you go in and sort of get people energized, get something in place? Or is this something that really should run all the time and really never has an end point?

[05:51] SC: No. Well, of course I'm in the business at this, so I'm going to say it should never have an endpoint. However, I mean, of course data, all of the research out there shows that there is no longer this work life balance. People don't want this work life balance. They want work life harmony. So how are we bringing these two together? And it doesn't mean that they just want ping pong tables and beer pong and games and stuff like that. They actually want to enjoy what they're doing, feel like they have a purpose in their work and a place in this world as well as enjoying being at the office as much as you can. So I believe that it should be an ongoing initiative and it should be. It shouldn't actually even be an initiative. It should be woven into the fabric of every company, so it's not treated as like this, oh, perk, trendy, cool. We've got yoga. It should be, no, we have this because we know that it's effective and it will garner the results that we need to not only engage but retain our employee population.

[06:50] MD: No, that's actually really interesting. Do you find that this, I don't know, success or you've got more clients and in kind of startup businesses that are starting now and like you said, it's woven into their concept of what their company should be like or do you find that more conservative or longstanding or enterprise brands are also kind of adhering to this idea of having a culture of wellness within their organizations?

[07:17] SC: I would say a combination of both, to be honest, when you're dealing one with the startups that get it. I mean, we receive responses like, um, when it's vinyasa yoga, flow happening today, really understand what is wanted from, from a wellness program and that includes, you know, financial wellness, mental wellness, physical wellness, nutritional wellness, all those different pillars that we really like to focus on. It fits spot. However, where we were, we truly as a team feel a lot of gratitude is when we're walking into establishment that may have never even offered those types of experiences or so we do work with a lot of construction companies. We work with service based industries where these individuals are really labor intensive and going in and doing those stretch breaks, going in, giving a lunch and learn about, um, the better snacks they could have on, during their snack time. like any, anything that we can do that improves the wellness, teaching individuals how to lift up things and put them onto trucks effectively. Like that. Basic ergonomics is life changing and the type of feedback we receive from those individuals is of such gratitude and appreciation that it really makes you feel pretty kick ass to be honest. So I would say a combination of both people get it and then the people that don't understand that they need to get it and they're making the right steps in the right direction.

[08:39] MD: So maybe like the workforce, maybe younger workforce of startups, people who have worked mostly in startups or younger companies, they kind of expect that and it's, it's more of this, if you don't have it, then it's an issue versus oh wow, you have this great perks style is, did I get it right?

[09:01] SC: Yeah, definitely. I mean if you go into any, you know, relative startups website and you see their perks, what they offer, what you get when you work at this company. I mean the list does look similar across across many different businesses because they know what they need to incorporate in order to attract and retain and motivate individuals to come there. The reality is there's been a lot of disruption with that, right? Everyone has the next biggest thing, you know, they're giving out tesla's as their quarterly rewards. I mean, that's insane. So, so there is a common, um, right now if you do not offer some type of wellness amenity or wellness service, then you may not even be competitive and that's frightening. I feel like there really is this like amenities war going on not only with companies but also with properties of who can have the dog walking, the dry cleaning, the nail salon, the on demand, everything and, and you know, if you don't, well then you may, as, you may as well, you know, just crumble and not and not participate because this is 2018 and that's what people want.

[09:56] MD: You feel like there's a lack of qualified labor and companies are just fighting over people.

[10:04] SC: I'm not so sure about that. I just think it's expectations. I feel like there are really wonderful, qualified individuals that just wants to work at a place that they genuinely want to work at and people are really catching onto that quickly. so they're realizing that they have to change and modernize the workforce to retain and attract to those individuals. I mean, I hate saying I'm a millennial so I can kind of comment. Yeah, right, right. So you know what we want exactly, but that's the whole term, right? Wellness is typically such a gross term. when you say corporate wellness and when we're interviewing people being like, hey, let's talk about corporate wellness. Let's define it. Some people woUld be like flu shots. Other people would be like, you know that one time someone in hr talked a yoga class and it was really fun and then someone else would be like a biometric screening. We were like, whoa, whoa, whoa. One isn't this totally a fragmented market where you have to go to different vendors for different solutions and to this is so antiquated. Let's make it fun, let's make it relevant. Let's make it what people want today and that's where fits spot is today is, is really being that singular provider of all wellness needs for the modern workplace.

[11:19] MD: That's awesome. I wanted to start off talking about fitness, which is maybe where you started. Can you tell us some of the direct immediate benefits of having fitness programs inside the workplace and how that reflects on maybe increased productivity, etc.

[11:37] SC: Sure. I mean, teambuilding is the number one thing, you may never speak to someone that's in marketing or in customer support, wherever it may be, but if there is some type of community activity, like a physical workout group workout happening on site, you the ability to kind of cross pollinate with other departments that you may never speak with, and that's an incredible experience as well as obviously the known benefits of physical fitness. Like one, you have to get up and move around throughout your day if you're not that cemetery. I mean, sitting is the new smoking as everyone is saying. So that's, um, that's definitely obviously a perk. She also really increases creativity when people have the ability to step away from something and let their mind focused on something else. Your brain is always doing something in the background, right? It's problem solving. It's marinating on, on whatever's coming up next.

[12:25] SC: That escape is truly beneficial for productivity and increasing creativity and that obviously breaking a sweat endorphins, you, you enjoy it, you become happier. There's, there's a chemical reaction that comes from getting your heart rate up and into breathing. We forget how little we breathed throughout the day. Even now I feel like I'm doing, you know, shallow breaths. When was the last time I took that deep lung, you know, belly filling, breath that really just reminds you that be present, be in the moment, um, deal with deal with the now versus thinking about the past and you know, the future which a lot of employees get caught up with day to day.

[12:59] JC: Yeah. It's really, really interesting. And I wonder also there's been a lot of talk about mental health. It's been in the news, it seems like more and more these days and stress being one of the elements of that and people, you know, we've all worked with workplace that does have a lot of stress and, and then, or maybe we haven't. So what are you doing at Fitspot to help? And this I saw on your website it was one of the areas that you focused on, but how do you sort of tackle this and approach it and, and are there some things that you can share that you're doing around this space?

[13:32] SC: Sure. It's really nice to establish defining stress, right, so each person has different stresses. We actually learned that financial stress was a huge contributor to an employee's everyday stress, so that's why we did start adding in financial wellness is one of our offerings, so once you start dissecting what stress means for an individual, we actually worked with a really awesome partner, caldwell. They do mindfulness and resilience training and we are a partner of theirs, so when you access our wellness management tool, which is essentially like this ecosystem of digital offerings online, you can access will and participate in their audio and visual and visual practices from mindfulness and resilience and that's been really incredible. We also do onsite educational workshops on managing stress and what that means to you, so sitting down with individuals, we can either set it up as a one on one session so you get 15 minutes, half an hour with a professional to talk about managing the stress and techniques that you could incorporate.

[14:31] SC: Alternatively, we can do it in group setting. With the one on one-on-ones, people feel a little bit more comfortable. They can ask questions, you know, they don't feel like they're colleagues may be judging them for particular things as everyone stresses are different and you don't want to be viewed as, oh, that seems inadequate or not big enough to make a big deal, but it's something that you're thinking about every day that weighs on you, so we'd like to set that type of environment where you either it's a one on one or a group setting and continuous programs. I will say that again and again and again, this is not something that you can just offer one time and to hope that it goes away. It's something that must be ingrained in the fabric of your company. If you care about your employees putting in the effort, you have to put in the effort to them as well and leadership, always getting involved.

[15:16] SC: That's something that we talk about a ton here at Fitspot because we're so in the weeds everyday. My cofounder and I, but stepping away to participate in those services that we bring on site, including the stress management ones is is game changing. They see that it's okay to participate. They see that it's in fact encouraged to participate to talk about these stresses that come with the job. I think people are really appreciative that. But yes, stress management is a huge, I think that's going to really evolve in 2019 and as well in the coming years.

[15:49] MD: Do you offer any kind of a therapy as well? I'm a psychoanalyst, something of the sort or like a safe space where people can feel like they can discuss their mental health issues or is that even in the plans or something like that?

[16:06] SC: We refer. We do not solicit that directly through Fitspot services, but if we are instructors will note that, hey, I think this would be an awesome time to refer or recommend, you know, proper, I mean like professional medical help, right? And they will advise that way.

[16:31] MD: Voices of Customer Experience is brought to you by Worthix. if you're interested in customer experience, behavior economics, or data science, follow Worthix on social media or subscribe to our blog for the best content on the web.

[16:49] MD: And how about nutrition? Nutrition walks alongside fitness. I mean, I read recently that in America, obesity actually started going up after the whole idea of gym and fitness started because people felt like they had permission to eat more because I had gone to the gym, right? So, oh my, I walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes. Now I can reward myself with a big mac for my efforts. Right. So I know that you offer nutrition help. How does that play in to the whole idea of wellness and increase performance, maybe even increased brain functionalities, et cetera?

[17:33] SC: Oh, absolutely. I mean, what you put into your mouth is fueling your body. And I think we forget that. I certainly forget that when I have a slice of pizza and like, oh, that made me feel kind of crappy comparatively to how this fruit salad would have made me feel. Um, yeah. So, so feeling yourself is so important and I think that people are really recognizing that now, but they may not know how to start. They may not know, you know, define healthy. Some people feel that, okay, so this peanut butter and jelly sandwich is healthy because there's fruit from the jelly and then there's peanut butter which is a protein, right? And there's bread which is a carb. Little do they know that that type of bread, you know, you want more of the complex carbs versus simple carbohydrates. So there's a lot that goes into it.

[18:13] SC: Speaking of partners we actually do work with is apongo, which is nutritional platform that employees can access. It sends them recipes based on their goals. It also delivers groceries via Instacart to either their office or home. It really solves the problem of oh, I'm in a pinch, which most individuals experience all the time. I'm just going to grab whatever's closest available takeout delivery. And it kind of puts the control back in their hands. But nutrition is major. Talk about that 3:00 PM crash. I mean, we all feel it and it's like, how can we avoid that and stimulate a lot of that comes from food, what we're putting into our body. And do you help, um, maybe do some sort of consulting with companies and what sort of snacks to provide employees what to have in the kitchen and the fridge, etc.

[19:05] MD: Or do we deal only with direct employees?

[19:07] SC: You know, we definitely do. We actually do fridge takeovers, which has been really fun. So we'll, we'll go into someone's office and we'll totally take over their fridge and put in healthy snacks and talk about it. The most important thing is like, oh, sorry, we got rid of the gummy bears, but why did we get rid of the gummy bears? It's understanding, you know, the why behind these decisions. So we usually have a nutritionist come onsite at that, at that time and, and talk about, hey, this is why this is good and this is why this is a better option than what we have here. So nutrition, those lunch and learns as well. Establishing a, either you can do a build your own salad bar, we do also trail mix stations and we talk about the difference between say the trail mix that you can get at a gas station, which are delicious, but then we talk about what could we substitute that and why, what does it do for you?

[20:01] SC: Does it increase metabolism, increase brain functionality, all of those different things that you can discuss while you've got people's attention. Because we're talking about food. I mean when you start talking about food, everyone wants to participate. There's an option to get food. I'll be there, right? So usually we really try to engage people that way, actively allow them to ask questions and really start from the ground up of portion control, sizing, meal, prepping the fundamentals of understanding what you're putting into your body is, is really key. And then, you know, once again, consistency, bringing it on onsite, regularly talking about it. We even do cookings and tastings. We have a paleo chef that's incredible that travels around doing incredible cooking and tastings for individuals. They can see that, hey, this isn't gross green, you know, kale salad that I don't want to eat. This is delicious and this is how it's delicious.

[20:55] MD: I don't understand why people hate kale. Kale gets a really bad rap and it's delicious. Same size. I know, I know. It had a very big comeback. It was like brussels sprouts. Brussel sprouts has been huge that the biggest companies we were like, totally. And they're like, just add bacon. And I'm like, no, no, no, no, but also delicious.

[21:27] JC: Yeah. This sounds amazing,Sammy and I can see why you're excited about it and your clients are as well. I can see her being all over this. I can see employees. What's the pitch to the CFO or the guy that has to sign the check and you know, or the CEO even depending on how engaged he is, right with his staff. But what's the pitch to those guys around as they're thinking about ROI and productivity, and what sort of impact is this gonna have on our business beyond just, you know, making people feel better. I do. I'd love to hear what you'd say to a CFO as you go in and talk to him about it and why this is worth the investment.

[22:08] SC: Sure. Establishing what are your goals from this? So if it's A hard numbers individual, that ROI is going to be either a capping or reducing healthcare premiums. We can talk about that, you know, how can we reduce it? that means that we need to start tracking xyz in order to produce those results, to show to your broker, you know, that conversation can bring it that way. However, I truly encourage individuals during those conversations to start thinking not only about the hard ROI, those numbers and stats, but some of the squishy things that are intangible to numbers, like how do people simply feel and do they feel more positively. These are things that we can measure, but it's not going to be a hard number. weight loss and capping premiums and those things can be tracked. But let's start looking at those other factors that really, um, improve an employee's experience at work. And how can we start bringing that into the equation and helping change the conversation and think a little bit differently on defining ROI. We can give you numbers up the wazoo. Of course that's. We work with individuals that need that all the time and we respect that. We totally get it. We're a business to bottom line counts. However, it's changing that dialogue to to focus on other aspects that are not just the numbers and figures to to really help push the envelope on on how people are viewing workplace wellness.

[23:32] JC: What sort of feedback do you hear from the employees that you work with?

[23:36] SC: Yeah, so employees, it's. It's such an interesting sales process for us, right? Because we have to sell to hr or the CFOs at this stage or property managers, asset owners, but at the end of the day, they may not be the end users, so the end of the day, the end users are the employees, the individuals participating in our services. So that the feedback it's is really awesome. That's why that truly kind of gets me through the days on uncertain days that have been particularly tough is that they, they so enjoy these, these moments, these kind of daily doses of wellness that we can provide and uh, and that really, that really keeps me, keeps me moving through this. Of course, you know, we're a service based industry and you can bleep this out, but you know, shit happens. And, and we, we deal with that, whether that be a service that wasn't executed in the way that an individual, you know, wanted it to be and we have incredibly high standards and expectations of our services and experience. Um, so when that feedback is heard, we immediately address it, you know, it's all about how you recover from that. But most of the time it's positive and people are loving it. Yeah.

[24:43] MD: That's great. Well that's excellent because I wanted to talk about that really quick, which is like the feedback that you do get from people. So looping all the way back to customer experience and the the concept that especially frontline employees, people who work at call centers and the high stress environment when they feel better, when they have that sense of wellness, when they feel like they belong in a corporate environment and when, when they, when they feel like the company actually cares about their day to day experience in this reflects positively on the way they're treating customers on the way they interact with customers on a way they perform their tasks. So I mean you might not have concrete case studies or the actual numbers that prove return or increase in customer experience due to what the work that you do do with a employee experience. But one of the. What are some of the stuff that you've heard feedback from the employees themselves or from leadership about how this is reflecting positively on the way employees then interact with customers?

[25:51] Yeah. So What's great is that we do actually work with a lot of those remote offices because, you know, HQ tends to have all these perks and benefits. However, it's how are you getting this out to the remote employees that may not have access to those types of services regularly, so when we do work with those individuals similar to the service based industries into the construction industrial side, they're really grateful for the experiences that we can bring on site and receiving the emails and the testimonials from clients that say, you know, I feel more positively about my job since fifth spot has been implemented is exactly the type of feedback that we really enjoy hearing, especially from hr or office managers that are responsible for say those remote employees and call centers the energy. That's something that we consistently hear about. There's been a change of energy. People are bouncing into the office if they're excited for when people wait for the instructors to show up on site and when they get there, they're posting it on social media. They're high fiving. There's this sense of community and camaraderie that comes together and certainly that must be reflected in the performance of the work that they're doing. Therefore, the experience that they're delivering to their customers.

[27:08] MD: Do you feel like at any point leadership of corporations, especially large corporations, tend to overlook the front liners or people that deal directly with the customers or like you said, people in the industrial part are in that work inside of the plants, et cetera. Do you think they tend to be overlooked most of the time in wellness programs?

[27:31] SC: I think they do, however, the forward thinking companies like some of the clients that we do work with are well aware of what they need to do to acknowledge that and move forward and to maintain, you know, being current with the times. However, yeah, I do feel like it's overlooked and we forget that these individuals are really the cornerstone of, of America right there. They are doing literally working their butts off to deliver a service and experience that we expect on time effectively and you know, in the best condition, quality and all that good stuff. I think that...

[28:08] MD: and will actually change our perception of the company. Our interaction with these people is what's going to change or not or you know, or improve or, or worse than our perception of the company. Right?

[28:19] SC: Yeah, absolutely.

[28:20] MD: And do you feel like I'm in the day to day when you're pitching a fit spot to organizations and to decision makers, whether it's from a financial standpoint or from a leadership standpoint, do you feel like the people who do choose to move forward with you are very conscious of the importance of a amazing customer experience and how this will not only help in retention, but do you hear them discussing how this will also benefit customers?

[28:49] SC: You know what? Because our service, or not our service per se, but the idea of workplace wellness is still relatively new. Our entire sales process is a lot of educating along the way, so in fact we challenge individuals to think that way, to think beyond just the. Oh cool. So we're doing a yoga class once a week on site, but what will that bring you? What will the results spring, what is the value behind this? So, so I want to say actually no, but we are challenging individuals to start thinking that way because this is still a relatively new space. Like I said, I think that people are really excited about that, but they're not 100 percent sure of what the results will bring them until they experience it.

[29:36] MD: Oh, that's great. That's wonderful to hear. Sammy, this has been wonderful. This been very insightful and I really hope that this mentality spreads to other corporations as well and that this becomes a kind of a best practice that is normal and expected because I think it will make workplaces a better place. So thank you so much and I'm really glad that you could come before wrapping. Is there a way that people can contact you or follow fit spot and listen to the message that you guys are getting across?

[30:15] SC: Yeah, absolutely. We are live on all of the social media channels and into our handle is at fit spot wellness. Uh, you can reach me directly at email sammy@fifthspottowellness.com.

[30:28] MD: Wonderful. Thank you so much. Thank you, James for joining us once again. 

[30:38] MD: Thank you for listening to Voices of Customer Experience. If you'd like to hear more or get a full podcast summary, visit the episode details page or go to blog.worthix.com/podcasts. This episode of Voices of Customer Experience was hosted and produced by Mary Drumond. Co-hosted by James Conrad and edited by Nic Gomez. Blog copy and summary by Emma Waldron.

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