Since 1991, the Customer Service Group has sponsored Customer Service Week. This year it’s being held from October 3-7. Customer Service Week is an international event devoted to recognizing the importance of customer service and honoring the people on the front lines of the service revolution.
Richard Shapiro, founder and president of The Center For Client Retention and author of the book, The Welcomer Edge: Unlocking the Secrets to Repeat Business (Vantage Point, 2012), states that, in most cases, a company’s frontline associates can be an organization’s best competitive advantage and the secret to securing repeat business.
Shapiro has several suggestions for improving customer satisfaction and gaining repeat customers for owners and managers of spas and skin care facilities. Shapiro states, “There is no dispute that the industry makes customers feel good about themselves through their services and products, which is a great first step.” But, he feels that spas and skin care facilities could dramatically increase their revenues and boost their profits by implementing some of his suggestions. Shapiro says that it costs five to six times as much to bring in a new customer than it does to keep the ones you have, so retention is the key to any business. Shapiro also believes that two key positions in any spa or skin care facility are the associates who make appointments or field questions from prospective clients and the receptionist who first greets potential and existing clients.
1. Make sure that every one of your frontline associates is capable of making a good first impression. First impressions are made within the first 10 seconds. You never have a second opportunity to make a warm and welcoming first impression. He suggests that owners and managers call into their places of business and see how the people sound on the phone. What kind of first impression do they make? Do they sound welcoming? Do they sound friendly? Do they try to obtain the person’s name and use it during the conversation?
2. Show appreciation to your clients. Thanking clients in a meaningful and thoughtful manner on every customer/frontline encounter shows clients that you care about them and appreciate their business. In addition to the skin care professionals thanking clients in a sincere manner, make sure that the receptionist also thanks clients as they are leaving your place of business.
3. Review your letters and e-mail communications. Make sure that they sound welcoming and make your clients feel important and appreciated.
4. Create a strong culture. Create a culture in which your team members are treated as family and neighbors and they will, in turn, treat your clients the same way. Clients notice and appreciate when a company notices and appreciates their employees. Make sure that clients understand how much you value your associates. Let them know that you have internal meetings where you discuss complimentary letters that have been received. Display recent letters and e-mails that show clients how others feel about your skin care facility.
5. Answer client questions. By not only responding to their direct inquiry, but also by providing them with additional useful information, clients often enjoy learning more about a potential purchase than what’s written on tag or in a brochure. Most likely, skin care professionals are trained to inform clients about product ingredients, possible side- effects, and more, but make sure your receptionist and appointment staff relay information that might be useful to clients as well, such as a change in hours, new services and special customer appreciation week discounts.
6. Help is No. 1. Understand that the underlying ingredient of customer service is helping people. Make sure that every frontline associate has a history of helping people. It will almost guarantee a great customer service experience.
7. Say hello and smile. In this era of technology, people are more stressed than ever. Getting a big, warm hello can go a long way in giving a customer the feeling of “Hey, the people at this spa is really happy to see me.”
8. Use the customer’s name in conversation appropriately. In the skin care industry, there are many repeat customers. Show your clients you recognize them by using their names: "Mrs. Jones, it’s wonderful to see you today."
9. Listen to customer comments. Comments such as, “This is the first time I used your website,” “I just moved into the neighborhood,” “I just happened to stop by” are opportunities to engage the client to build a relationship and lifetime of loyalty. There are so many of these magic phrases that potential clients use when they either call or stop in for the first time. Don’t just tell them about your services, find out about them, too. Ask them how they heard about your skin care facility. Find out how they like the new neighborhood if they recently moved in. People like to engage with others who are interested in them as another person and not just a customer walking through the door.
10. The first hello. The last tip for almost guaranteeing repeat business, generating positive social media posts and making customers feel the spa cares, all starts with the first hello in person, over the phone or through the click of the mouse. A company’s frontline associates are the voice of the spa. When you find frontline associates who can make every customer feel welcomed and important, make sure you continually thank those special folks and reward them appropriately.
Customer Service Week is only seven days a year. Remember to make sure that your clients know that your skin care facility cares about them as a person first and customer second 365 days a year!