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Relationships = Retention

By: Steven H. Dayan, MD and Terri Wojak
Posted: June 1, 2009, from the June 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

It's crucial to excel in and provide your clients with exceptional customer service to survive in an economic downturn. Excellent customer service is the most important benefit a business or provider can offer its customers to ensure success. It may be an old adage, but it remains true: “The customer is always right.” Service providers without customers have no business, so it is crucial to make sure they feel important. From the esthetician, to the receptionist, to the physician—if clients aren’t happy, success is impossible. Many spas are competing for clients, so you must set your business apart from the rest. Remember that however many clients you see, you need to treat each one as if they are your one and only when they are with you, and the best way to do this is to build relationships with them.

The initial call

A client’s very first contact with the business is the most important. This is most often the initial phone call, which is a make-it-or-break-it situation. The client may have been referred from an advertisement, Internet search or word-of-mouth, so you have already succeeded in getting the client to pick up the phone and call you, and now is your time to shine. The first rule is to answer the telephone within two rings. Personally answering the phone—as opposed to automated services—will help clients build relationships with staff.

There is no guarantee of an appointment being made, or even kept, just because the client took the time to call. All staff members who answer the phone must be fully knowledgeable about every service your business offers, and the best way to achieve this is by allowing them to experience the services at your spa. This provides the opportunity for them to talk about a treatment from their perspective, and potential clients will likely take the advice more seriously.

Foster enthusiasm

The appointment has been made, but there is still no guarantee that the client will actually come in, so foster enthusiasm by sending out a packet that includes information about the available services and, in particular, the treatment that was booked. Attach a simple card or letter that says, “We look forward to meeting you. Here is some information we thought you might find helpful to read before your appointment.” This will help to secure the appointment and portray professionalism, as well as get clients excited. Many have questions that they forget to ask on the phone, and they will appreciate having the information to peruse. If the appointment is for a chemical peel, send information about what the treatment entails, how they can prepare for the appointment and what they will experience after the service. You can also add before-and-after pictures and testimonials to the information. Face it, the cosmetic industry is booming and there are new day spas, medical spas and physician offices that offer skin care treatments popping up every day. You must go above and beyond to set yourself apart from your competition.

An inviting atmosphere

In order to show your clients that they are important, ensure that everything looks and feels as though you prepared it as a treat for them. The moment they walk in, there should be a warm, inviting feeling throughout the entire spa or office. This includes the décor, as well as the staff members’ appearances.The reception area, as well as the treatment rooms, should be clean and have an overall ambiance of the vision you’ve created.