When designing and planning verbal and non-verbal communications with clients and prospects, messaging must be shaped so that the newest client will comprehend and not be overwhelmed and the oldest client will stay interested and pay attention to what is being conveyed. And, all this must be one while ensuring that the words, either written or spoken, are considered organic and personal.
Communication with clients can happen in many forms, including over the telephone, website visits, e-mail, in person, social media, branding, and other forms of communication, before, during, and after the client’s visit. It is important to remember and to teach staff that communication is not one-sided, and it is crucial to take time to listen to clients in order to understand their needs, concerns, and to ensure that their questions are answered.
Breaking down some best practices on how to communicate and what to take into consideration, let’s look at some common opportunities in which information is conveyed to clients and prospective clients.
Communication with clients and prospects starts well before they walk through the doors of the spa. Most often, the first interaction with a client will be one that the professional is not aware of. Clients and prospects typically experience their first communication with the business by visiting its website and social media pages. It could also come from their first impression of an advertisement, either digital or print. It is important to ensure that the messaging used on all external communications is appropriate and cohesive. If a client does an internet search and the search engine shows that the spa is open from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M., but the website shows 10:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M., and social media pages show other hours, the communication to the client regarding business hours will likely confuse them.
An online “communication audit” is a great idea. Start by ensuring that all social media pages, online review websites, and the spa’s website have the same information regarding hours, days of operation, services, and staffing. It is also a good idea to ensure that the information displayed online matches the information on any printed materials in the business. Make sure the photos used on the spa’s website and social media pages portray the image and branding for business. Make sure product and service pricing is the same on the spa’s website menu, online booking portal, and printed menu.
If using an online booking service that sends clients an e-mail when they book, confirm, and after the appointment, ensure that the language and marketing messages in the e-mails are current and that the pre-appointment information makes sense.
If there are multiple locations for the business, make sure that details about specials specify which locations or providers the special is redeemable with.
It is best not to overload information to the client in an e-mail, as they are likely to skip over most of it. Rather, host the bulk of the information regarding preparation and after care for their visit on the spa’s website and use hyperlinks in various e-mails to direct them to the website.
Ensure that cancellation and rebooking policies have the same verbiage and can be easily found online and in e-mail confirmations.
When making changes to pricing, services, hours, policies, and more, make those changes across the board wherever they appear, including printed materials, social media, the spa’s website, or e-mails. It is a good idea to make regular audits of these communication portals to ensure that everything matches and is cohesive.
GREETING THE CLIENT
When a client walks through the doors of the spa, what does the reception area communicate to them? If it is cluttered, dusty, or overwhelmingly busy, it is going to communicate to them the opposite of the spa’s intended message. If it is clean, de-cluttered, and peaceful, it is going to set the tone for a relaxing and rejuvenating visit.
When welcoming a new client in the spa, reception staff should introduce themselves first, and, then, ask the client’s name as if meeting someone new at a party or an event, instead of with the intention of getting their name so that the client can be checked in for their treatment. Continuing to use their name three times during their reception experience will make them feel that they are thought of as an individual and not a stranger. Using a person’s name three times in an interaction will establish a feeling of connection.
All staff in the business should do this. If it is a new client, make sure that they are welcomed to the spa and shown around so they know where the bathroom is, where they can find water, where the locker room is and so forth. If it is a regular client, take the opportunity when greeting them to show or tell them something new (product or service) since the last time they were in.
Because in this day and age face-to-face communication is limited in individuals’ daily lives due to the ever-increasing use of cell phone applications and e-mails, staff might not be comfortable with client interactions. Practice role-playing with staff and find creative ways to incorporate a client’s name into a conversation. Doing this will help staff feel more at-ease when welcoming clients into the spa and will ensure that the welcome feels organic and not rehearsed.
Depending on the spa and the treatment, consultations can be very informal or they can be a sit-down conversation. When an existing client is trying a new service or a new client is trying a service for the first time, it is important to ensure that they understand the treatment that is being provided, what exactly it will accomplish, and what they can expect during the treatment.
It is also important to determine that the client selected the right treatment for the results that they want to achieve. If they picked an antiaging facial, but are most concerned with breakouts, advise them of a different facial than the one they originally booked or take the opportunity to upsell an add-on treatment that will help address their skin care concerns.
Take this time to learn about the concerns with their skin, body, and other areas. While it is important to disclose any pertinent information regarding any complex after care (like staying out of the sun for a few days or something else that might impede on daily life), it is also important not to overwhelm them with information during the consultation process. The goal is for clients to retain the information they need at every stage of the appointment and not be overwhelmed. Handing a client a list of 25 do’s and don’ts for after their spray tan appointment might not be the best way to start the treatment off.
It is also very possible that the client has simply come to the spa to relax and is not concerned with doing anything else, in which case it may be a good idea to shorten or eliminate a consultation altogether and move right into their appointment.
When showing a client into the room that their treatment will be in (or even into the locker room prior to their treatment), make sure they know where they can put their belongings. Show them where they can find their robe, ensure that they do not need to use the restroom, remind them to turn their cell phone off, and let them know how long they should expect to wait before their provider comes in for the treatment. It is important to ensure that the client is comfortable. Check the room temperature and see if they need a magazine, glass of water, or something else. Get them settled in and let them know where they need to sit or lie down.
DURING THE TREATMENT
The two ends of the spectrum for treatments in the spa world range from a typical lights out treatment that has minimal verbal communication, relying on touch and soft-spoken words for cues when necessary, and working treatments, when the lights are on or there is constant communication between the client and the provider. Treatments can fall in either of these categories or somewhere between the two. The type of treatment can dictate what communication will be used and, sometimes, the client will naturally lead the way based on their desire to relax or be inquisitive.
It is up to the treatment provider to find a natural balance based on the client’s cues and the treatment protocols. If a client has questions during the treatment, make sure to answer them, but do not necessarily take that as a cue to continue conversation throughout the treatment. If they answer questions as minimally as possibly, that may be a sign that they just want to relax during the treatment. If in the latter category with a client, make some mental notes with them to discuss after the treatment.
POST-PROCEDURE AND AFTER CARE QUESTIONS
After the treatment is finished, it is important to give the client their space and not bombard them with too much information. Let them know that the treatment is finished and that you are stepping out to give them their privacy. Ask them if they want some water or tea and have that ready when they are finished getting their bearings. It is important to remember, especially after a quiet treatment like a massage or relaxing facial, that the client might have gotten to a near sleep-like state. If they are not going to be in a position to receive post-treatment information, wait until you come back into the room.
Let the client know what occurred during the treatment, anything abnormal that may have been found (possible skin cancer spots or changes in skin), and what was done to specifically address the concerns that they had. Offer any potential after care instructions or suggestions for what they can do at home.
The last thing a client wants to see is a pre-filled basket of products totaling hundreds of dollars at the front desk for them. It is impersonal and communicates to them that the focus is on getting them to spend money. And, as a spa owner or manager, precious employee time is wasted filling the basket, as well as time putting the items back on the shelf, and probably caused some wear and tear may be caused to the packaging in the process.
The retail sale starts during the consultation when learning about what the client’s skin, body, and hair concerns are and continues into the treatment room. Afterwards, when discussing what occurred during the treatment and what they can do at home, is where the sale or introduction to the retail products should happen. When the provider is communicating with the client about the products that they can take home with them, it is important to fill a need.
Did the client mention they are leaving for vacation? Show them different sun care products to try or introduce them to the travel-friendly sizes of their tried and true favorites. If keeping records of what clients purchase, review past products that they have taken home and bring them up in conversation, inquiring about how they worked for them, if they are still using them, and if they need to purchase more.
At checkout, the reception staff has the chance, once again, to connect with clients. Addressing them by name and asking them about their treatment can go a long way, especially if there were issues. If a client had a bad experience with a treatment or a provider, addressing it at checkout and rectifying the situation can help to retain them as a customer and derail them from walking out of the spa and posting a negative online review. It is important that every client leave satisfied and that the conversations with them at the time they leave include what they thought about their experience.
If the spa uses a digital receipt program (or it is incorporated into the online booking program), ensure that aftercare instructions are emailed to them with their receipt and that they know that they can find them on the website if they have further questions.
Calling a new client after their visit, or an old client after they got a new treatment, to ensure that they are satisfied and that they do not have any after care questions is also important. This is a great chance to have further communications with clients and show them that they are cared about as a customer.
When planned properly, communication that is clear, concise, and effective will assist with client retention and will elevate the customer experience for everyone that visits the spa.
After 10 years as a CEO and international expert in the sunless tanning industry, Kelly Richardson, founder of Venone PR and B.Bronz Sunless, took what she loved the most from her time running Sonoma Tanning and developing B.Bronz Sunles and kept that close to her heart as she launched Venone Public Relations. Her work is now focused on helping others market and run their businesses and she has a personal passion for working with start-ups and supporting businesses that are in need of crisis communication support.