How BlueFit's new CXO is planning to act on the voice of customer

Former Next Gen marketer and now CX chief at BlueFit talks through her priorities for the growing fitness brand

Refining the customer journey, embedding a new marketing cloud platform and elevating voice of customer and Net Promoter Score programs are top priorities for the new chief experience officer at BlueFit gyms.  

Jo Dawson joined the BlueFit Group in May as its first CXO, responsible for delivering the gym network’s brand experience across the customer lifecycle. The remit incorporate marketing, sales, customer engagement and retention, and is about supporting the business as it looks to expand its portfolio and drive growth.

Jo DawsonCredit: BlueFit
Jo Dawson


She reports directly to BlueFit Group CEO, Todd McHardy and indirectly replaces co-owned, Otua McHardy, who is taking on another leadership role to spearhead growth of a new business under the BlueFit umbrella.  

Dawson was previously group marketing manager of Next Gen Health and Lifestyle Clubs for more than four years. Prior to this, she spent nearly four years with Fitness First Australia, working her way up to national marketing manager.    

“With a long career in the health and fitness industry, I’ve watched BlueFit make significant waves in the community recreation sector, growing from an energetic start up to a strong and trusted player in the space,” Dawson told CMO. “No longer the new kid on the block, BlueFit is winning coveted contracts over well-established competitors, and proudly, has never lost one.”  

Dawson said the business is at a point now where to enable further growth, it needs to be scalable.  

“Management appreciates this requires growing the BlueFit team. For me, to be a part of this chapter of growth and enablement for BlueFit is incredibly exciting,” she said. “There’s a great deal of opportunity here and it’s a privilege to work with such a forward thinking and progressive team who are committed to putting the customer at the forefront.”  

Initially, that means refining the BlueFit customer journey and leveraging new and existing systems. Dawson said the first steps are well underway, with the central support team already using the Freshdesk CX platform. This is now being rolled out across all BlueFit sites, elevating frontline teams capability.  

In addition, BlueFit has gone live with Salesforce Marketing Cloud to help with marketing automation tasks. Dawson said she’s now establishing a new team whose sole focus is customer success. She’s also investigating several additional platforms to help elevate voice of customer (VoC) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) programs.  

“Everyone is interested in the voice of the customer these days, which is great. Everyone is listening, but it’s what you do in response that makes the difference,” Dawson commented. “Empowering your entire team to take action to enhance the customer experience is the game changer. Some might be small one-to-one actions, and some might drive organisational change. But we need to make it easy for all team members, from executives to the frontline, to understand and play their part in the overall experience.”  

Building customer credentials

Dawson is no stranger to building value-based customer programs. During her time at Next Gen Clubs, she helped develop a suite of digital member offerings under the ‘Next Gen Life’ branding. Next Gen Life included a mobile fitness app, a monthly online health and wellness magazine and an online portal with on-demand classes and interactive content.

“Next Gen Life extended the group’s health club member experience from something that mostly lived within the four walls of the club, to something that could impact and integrate seamlessly into the lives of members whenever and wherever they were in the world,” Dawson said. “Initially, this was developed with our affluent members in mind, people who would travel and often be away from the club for extended periods. We wanted to be able to engage and retain them, sometimes from a distance.”  

This became incredibly important when Covid-19 hit. “Members weren’t abroad, but with different states and countries in and out of lockdown the ability to engage and provide programs, content and services remotely was invaluable,” Dawson explained.  

Another milestone was introducing Qualtrics’ CX feedback platform, which Dawson described as a great leap for Next Gen in stepping up its VoC game.  

“On a micro level, the closed loop ticketing system meant we were able to listen to individual customer feedback in real time and take appropriate action, ensuring any problems were handled on the ground quickly and transparently,” she said. “On a macro level, real-time dashboards and reporting enabled us to understand themes and trends in our business as they emerged and make any course adjustments along the way.  

“There was also a tonne of value from an EX [employee engagement] perspective, and also as a tool to help manage and grow our people leaders.”  

During her time at Next Gen, Dawson was also responsible for flipping an acquisition-oriented strategy by increasing resources dedicated to brand building. The shift in messaging enabled the business to reduce reliance on retail offers and discounting and increase yield, while reengineering new member integration and retention programs.  

“I can’t take all the credit of course; I was lucky to work with an amazing team and supportive business owners,” Dawson said.  

It’s this team thinking she’s now keen to foster and be part of at BlueFit.  

“The decision to accept the role as CXO for BlueFit Group was made easier by already knowing Otua professionally through industry circles. Leaving a great team behind is always hard but understanding and aligning with the culture of the team you’ll be moving into certainly helps,” she added. “The BlueFit crew are a great bunch of people to work with and while, the pace is fast, the work is really rewarding.”  

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