Bally's CIO Pumps Up Customer Experience With iPads, QR Codes and Video

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The health club chain deploys customer-friendly technologies to change an intimidating culture and save a failing business model.

After two bankruptcies, multiple lawsuits from customers and the sale of 225 gyms over the last decade, Bally Total Fitness was in trouble.

The gym chain had become known mostly for its binding contracts and unwelcoming atmosphere, says CIO Guy Thier, who launched several IT initiatives in 2011 to transform the way Bally's dealt with customers.

When he joined Bally's in 2003, Thier says the atmosphere at one of the company's gyms was like that of a used-car dealership. "When [customers] walked in, they would end up right in a salesperson's office. Once you bought the membership, you never heard from us again." That intimidating culture and process had to change, Thier says, starting with the front desk.

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