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How Peloton pivoted the business in 36 hours

A story of reinvention in a crisis. Peloton had to react and adapt to preserve the member experience, the foundation on which their business was built. Brad Olson, Chief Membership Officer, Peloton, explains how they did it.

One of Peloton’s core values is to put their members first, and it’s something that's taken very seriously. In normal times (remember those?) Peloton would listen to their members in several ways, and use that information to ensure that the member experience met, and exceeded, expectations.

Like a song in class? Automatically sync it to your Apple music or Spotify account. Hit a new PB? Virtually high-five in a live or recorded class. All new features, taken directly from member feedback. Experience Management (XM) in action.

But when the pandemic hit, being able to deliver the world-class experience members had come to expect from Peloton became “complicated” according to Brad Olson, Chief Membership Officer.

In fact, the entire member experience from delivery to installation to classes was in jeopardy. Peloton needed to act, and quickly.

36 hours later...

New delivery system, same seamless experience

Normally, as part of the experience Peloton bikes would be custom built in the member’s home. However, with restrictions and safety fears, this wasn’t possible. Maintaining the world-class, in-home Peloton experience was at risk of falling at the first hurdle unless they could find a way of ensuring equipment could be delivered safely - for both members and employees.

So, one of the first actions was to minimize contact by stopping the delivery of Peloton bikes to the member’s room of choice and stopping delivery of other equipment, like the Tread, altogether.

Constantly learning and adapting, the experience soon evolved and “threshold delivery” was introduced, where bikes were delivered fully assembled to the threshold of the member’s house, and all social distancing measures observed. A big transition, but “critical to ensure we kept our members and our team members safe,” says Brad.

New job role, same purpose

Within 36 hours, Peloton had made major shifts in strategy, employees were retrained on the new standard operating procedures, and website and marketing communications were all updated.

The shift in strategy meant the production studios and retail showrooms were closed, leading to “a couple of hundred retail and studio employees being repurposed and retrained to support phone and chat sales, or the member support team,” says Brad.

This pivot proved to be hugely helpful to the business, because with a surge in demand and change in SOP’s came a rise in sales and support volume. All employees were retained, paid in full, and redeployed to the right places to make sure members were taken care of.

“We believe if we create a world class employee experience, they will deliver a world class member experience.”

Brad Olson Chief Membership Officer, Peloton

No studio? No problem.

With concerns over employee safety and lockdown measures in place, the pandemic meant, for the first time in Peloton’s history, they weren’t streaming live classes — a pretty big deal considering these classes are central to the member experience.

So Peloton got creative:

  • Introducing Dance Cardio — Peloton released new, pre-recorded content that was based on member feedback and kept things fresh
  • Lights, camera, action — When ready, Peloton pivoted to live in-home production. Instructors were sent top-of-the-line equipment, and just two weeks after shutting down their studios were able to stream daily live classes around the world, from home. The first class had 23,000 live riders and has been taken by nearly 200,000 people to date

Despite growing rapidly over the past 4 years, Peloton has managed to retain its agility, respond and react quickly to the threats that COVID-19 posed to its business.

With these threats came a change in consumer expectations. By being honest and transparent - through the CEO, email, SMS, and website updates - Peloton was able to ensure the experience the company prides itself on could match expectations in these circumstances.

These expectations will continue to change, and business conditions will too. With XM, Peloton is well set to continue working differently in this new reality.

Find out how other big brands pivoted during the pandemic in our on-demand WorkDifferent video sessions