Relationships = Retention

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.

Most often, the client called because of your brand, so it must be consistent throughout. If you are trying to come across as a high-end skin care center, then everything should look high end. That doesn’t mean that you have to spend a lot of money, just make sure it looks as if you did. If you are promoting your facials as the ultimate in relaxation, then every part of the spa should have a relaxing feel, from the reception area to the bathroom to the treatment rooms. Play soft music, light candles, and make sure the room is neat and clean. Staff members should be dressed according to the established brand you’ve created. For example, in a medical office, treatment providers should wear clean lab coats and office staff must look professional.

Consider your reception area to act as your concierge. Clients should be treated as if they are the most important people who have ever walked through the door. Designated team members should take coats, ask if clients would like something to drink and if there is anything that they can provide for clients to make them more comfortable while waiting for services. It is the same premise if you go to a high-end hotel or restaurant. People tend to have higher expectations when they are paying for luxury treatments. Have beverages and snacks readily available. You can try to tie these in with current promotions you are offering: chocolate-covered cherries to promote a cherry peel.

The treatment

During the treatment, clients should have every minute of the allotted time dedicated specifically to them. Take the time for a proper consultation to ensure you are providing exactly what they want. The consultation stage is vital to starting a strong relationship. You can’t make clients happy until you identify their exact expectations. When these are discussed, you must always under-promise and over-deliver. Answer any of the clients’ questions. Don’t ever let them feel rushed, even if they were late. This is their time, and they are paying for your services. Try to be understanding when clients are running a little behind schedule. Be compassionate, but if it keeps happening, make it known that you will have to cut services short so you don’t ruin another client’s experience. If you are running late, politely explain, and if clients seem upset, do what you can to make it up to them. You could always add something in that would usually cost extra to demonstrate that you are respectful of their time.

The service should not end as soon as the treatment does. Touching up clients’ makeup greatly adds to the customer service you are providing. Many don’t like walking around without makeup, and some come in before or during work hours and will appreciate the fact that they can return to work without others knowing they had a treatment. Giving clients proper after-care instructions and educating them about how to care for their skin is also part of good customer service. If you are recommending products, it shouldn’t feel like selling. Clients are coming to you for your knowledge, and they appreciate learning how to care for their skin. If they are not prepared to purchase products, give them samples so they can experience the difference it can make on their skin. Have articles, newsletters or other information readily available for the products and services you offer. Clients love to have something that they can review when they return home.

Nurture the client

You must nurture clients every step of the way. Walk them to the front desk to check out, and have a small gift waiting for them, such as samples, lip balm featuring the spa’s logo or candy. This will give them something positive to help counteract the negative—the bill. Again, the receptionist should try to further build a relationship with clients by addressing them by their first names and asking how their experience was and if there is anything else they need before checking out. It is extremely important at this time that clients do not feel rushed out of the office.

After they leave, the customer service aspect is still not complete. Remember, you are trying to set your spa apart and make sure clients feel special, so you need to ensure they come back. When they return for another service, chances of them continuing to come back for future treatments are limitless. At this time, send a personalized thank-you note letting them know how much you appreciated them choosing your business. Also, consider adding in a gift card or discount toward a future appointment because, especially in these economic times, it will give them an extra incentive to return.

Now that you have established a relationship, you need to continue to develop it. Send holiday and birthday cards, and include a gift, such as a gift card for a dollar amount off a treatment. These cards should be personalized to further secure the relationship. Every staff member that has any contact with clients should sign the cards, and the service provider can even write a personalized note inside. It shouldn’t take a lot of time or effort to provide clients with the best customer service. To be a successful spa professional, you must have your clients’ best interests at heart, and this extra attention to detail will help to show that you do.

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