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Dealing With a Difficult Client
By: Jay A. Shorr
Posted: February 28, 2013, from the March 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
You can please some of the people some of the time … but not all of the people all of the time. Every business that provides a service will encounter a few disgruntled personalities along the way. It is impossible to please everyone, but certainly you want them to be extremely satisfied more often than not. Unfortunately, the remote few seem to spoil the day.
By understanding the issue and resolving complaints, you not only can keep clients after a difficult situation, but also make them advocates for your skin care facility.
Following are common complaints and ways they can be addressed.
Long wait. A client may experience a long wait after she has arrived at your facility for an appointment. Apologize for the inconvenience and consider adding another less expensive treatment to her next or current appointment to make the client feel like her voice was heard. At this point, make sure to schedule the client’s next appointment right away.
Clients also may be stuck in the waiting area when the previous client runs late or asks for an additional service during her visit. When you know this has created a problem—and if it was truly the spa’s fault—it is best to offer something in return to make her feel you are sympathetic to her concerns.
High price tag. Clients should be aware of the price of the product or service beforehand, but in the event you did not really have a mutual understanding of the fees, it may be in your best interest to slightly reduce the price, or offer a skin care product or service in return. It may cost a little, but it is usually worth it in the end.
Unmet expectations. Results not meeting expectations is the most difficult situation because it is subjective. After all, your goal is to exceed the client’s expectations. She spent her hard-earned money for results that did not meet her personal goals for the service. Avoid this by discussing expectations beforehand. You also can compare results by taking before-and-after pictures. If a situation does arise and you believe that it is a reasonable complaint, express appreciation for constructive feedback, explain your goal, and offer a repeat service or credit toward another service.
The best way to avoid escalating difficult situations is to ensure that team members are trained to handle them. Staff members always should be consultative, and proactive versus reactive. Remind them to remain calm, and always be informative about the possibilities of negative interactions and results.
Hold mock client encounters and discuss responses. Because each personality will react differently, there is no one answer for all situations. There is always a solution, but the journey of how you get there may vary. Unless the client is totally unreasonable, always put yourself in her place, and you will usually make the right decision. However, if all else fails and a client is unreasonable, it may be best to cut your losses and move on to the more productive part of your business.
Document the encounters that you have with a client, even if it was on the phone. If a refund is given, have the client sign a release that indicates this is strictly a refund for services rendered and that there is no admission of guilt on either party. The refund constitutes the agreement and no further action can be taken.
When difficult situations do arise, always handle them with a positive attitude. Your client is your lifeline and needs to be treated as such. Never place fault, but rather, find solutions.
Jay A. Shorr is the founder and managing partner of The Best Medical Business Solutions, a professional motivational speaker, an advisor to the Certified Aesthetic Consultant program and a certified medical business manager from Florida Atlantic University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.