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Reading Your Client

By: Steven H. Dayan, MD and Terri A. Wojak
Posted: September 25, 2008, from the October 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Do you want to know the big secret behind being successful in medical esthetics and cosmetic medicine? It’s more important to make your clients feel good than it is to make them look good. Although it is true that physical appearance does matter to a point, there is also evidence that how a person feels is even more important. Studies have proven that women who believe that they are viewed as attractive are more animated and more confident.1 Therefore, it is apparent that physical appearance and attractiveness do make a difference, but only if they are accompanied by concurrent feelings of greater self-esteem and self-worth.

Common personality traits

Intently listening during consultations is the key to defining the best treatments for clients. If you get the best possible outcome from a treatment procedure but your client is dissatisfied, you have failed to achieve your goal: client satisfaction. Conversely, if your outcome is a little less than you would have liked, but the client is thrilled with the result, then you have succeeded both with your consultation and with your job performance. Your client is happy, and that’s the secret to your success.

By recognizing some common personality types, you may better meet the needs of your clients and, in turn, grow your business. Following are common personality types seen in a medical esthetic office. Clearly, many clients won’t fall into one specific category; however, these can be used as a teaching tool or a pneumonic reference designed to highlight common client motivations.

Satisfied Sally. This client will most likely come in and be happy with whatever treatment she receives. She loves facials, she loves the practice, she loves you—everything is wonderful. This doesn’t mean that you should upsell Sally, but offer whatever treatment you think is the best, and make sure she feels relaxed. The client is likely coming into your facility to escape—she feels the spa or medical office is more like a social event than a necessity. Make sure she feels welcome and appreciated, and remember that you are not only treating the skin, but also the spirit. Sally is also likely to be an advocate, resulting in multiple referrals.

Know-it-all Nancy. This client has researched the Internet exhaustively and has read many articles on cosmetic procedures. She will tell you what she wants done and why—she saw it on a talk show and is convinced it is the best treatment. Nancy will give you a puzzled look if you tell her otherwise. Frequently, her information is outdated or incomplete. This client comes to you not so much for your expert opinion and diagnostic skills, but for your technical services. Try to understand her ultimate goal, and then explain how to best achieve it. Realize that if you give Nancy the treatment she wants and it doesn’t meet her expectations, she will believe that it is your fault. On the other hand, if you give her a different treatment and it doesn’t meet her outcome, she will fault you even more. If you think another treatment is more suited than the one Nancy requests, explain the pros and cons with detailed specifics. Be sure the client makes the final decision, unless of course the particular treatment that she wants is not beneficial or is potentially harmful.