In my coaching practice and in speaking with other professionals, I’ve noticed lately that many aestheticians seem to be struggling with how to respond appropriately when problems or difficult situations arise with their clients. It has been my experience that, although there are many issues in the industry that have laid the groundwork for these problems, almost all flow from what I would call “The lost art of customer service.” To rediscover the art of customer service, there are three foundational values we all need to have that will allow us to turn unhappy clients into not only happy clients but raving fans. Let’s explore these together.
TRANSACTIONAL MINDSET VERSUS A SERVICE MINDESET
Mindset affects everything we do in life, and this is certainly true in business, as well. First, we need to determine what exactly our mindset is and then look at how it might be affecting the way we respond to client problems and difficulties. Let’s look at two general mindset types: a transactional mindset and a service mindset.
The transactional mindset, in business, is one that is focused inwardly, primarily on the needs of the business above all others. Every client is seen as a transaction which represents the flow of money into our business. If the client becomes a problem for our business or makes the transaction we are trying to facilitate difficult, we simply remove the problem and move along to the next transaction. Of course, when we remove the problem by firing our client and blocking them on social media and our booking systems, we may have made our life a little easier, but we’ve now created a potential review nightmare for ourselves and our business. We will have not only lost the revenue from that client but also any potential revenue from the referrals they might have given us in the future.
The service mindset is one that is focused outwardly on the needs of clients above all else. This mindset recognizes that by placing the primary focus of our business on meeting the needs of clients, we will in turn grow our business exponentially. When problems arise, we have an attitude that motivates us to innovate, to figure out the best possible solution for our clients’ needs. Raving fans are not only repeat customers but referring customers, and there is no better way to grow a thriving business than by customer referrals.
We have all heard the term “communication is key,” but I believe our ability to communicate effectively has been hindered by communicating solely through social media. Many of us have lost the ability to deal with real people, as we have begun to live more and more of our lives on social media. The make-believe land of social media offers very little, if any, accountability for what we say or do or for how we treat others. In the land of social media, we quickly learn that the easiest way to resolve conflict is to block the offender. For us to be both personally and professionally successful in a society of varied opinions, viewpoints, and conflicting ideas, we are required daily to be able to navigate difficult situations with others, in a way that allows us to achieve successful outcomes.
Truly successful business owners do not take negative interactions with clients personally, but instead see them as opportunities to shine in their clients’ eyes by offering exemplary customer service. Understand there are a million things that could have caused the problem with the client – most of which probably have nothing to do with you (bad day, difficult morning with kids, lost job, illness, death, spouse, and so forth). When problems arise, this is now our chance to breathe life into clients’ lives rather than just apply products or, worse yet, fire them. It is our chance to possibly lift them up emotionally and mentally, and, hopefully, send them off feeling better than when they originally walked through the door. We are in the service industry, so let’s learn to serve the needs of clients in the best and most professional way possible. Statistically speaking, dissatisfied clients are much more likely to give a bad review on social media than a happy client is to give a positive review, so make sure clients leave the spa happy.
EXTREME OWNERSHIP OF YOUR BUSINESS
I love the concept of extreme ownership with regard to how we view and operate our businesses. Simply put, extreme ownership means “Own your crap! No excuses!” We are the business owner and it all comes down to us. If something goes wrong or is not working out right, it ultimately falls on us. If we have chronic “no shows” and are angry about the lost time and money, it is our fault, not the client’s fault. Chronic anything means we have an ongoing problem we have yet to face and deal with – we’ve procrastinated. If we have chronic “no shows,” it’s because we’ve not yet set up, communicated, or enforced a well thought out cancellation policy; if we had, we wouldn’t have had the problem in the first place. It’s our job to train and explain to clients how our business operates and the boundaries (policies and procedures) we might have set for the practices.
If you run your business by only using online booking to set appointments, don’t get angry when clients text or call to make appointments. That is simply your opportunity to educate them on how and why you operate your business the way you do, so they can have the best possible experience with you. If you only do online booking, and clients are texting or calling to set an appointment, extreme ownership challenges you to look at what’s not working right in your business. Does your website properly explain to clients how appointments are set? Have you explained to new clients after their initial call and appointment with you that they need to schedule their appointments online? I personally like to schedule my client’s next appointment with them at the end of their current appointment, so I make sure to dial them in completely for their next visit. I choose to close the deal on their next service right away, as opposed to waiting on them to get around to it, as this keeps them on schedule with their treatments and avoids procrastination issues.
Regardless of the policies we choose to adopt, we all need to take time to develop well thought out responses for the questions we know clients are going to be asking, so we don’t stumble or stammer when pressed on these issues or, even worse, argue with clients and then give into their demands. You get the picture. Instead of getting angry and firing clients, implement a simple procedure to train clients on policies and procedures, so they can be happy paying clients that become your raving fans.
In parting, here are a few more suggestions to help improve the level of customer service you deliver to clients:
- Client complaints are really a client’s cry for help. This is a time for innovation and problem solving, so in the end, you will become the client’s hero.
- Business owners that complain are broadcasting their failure to be innovative and find solutions to problems they are presented with.
- Be slow to react: E (event) plus R (reaction) equals O (outcome). You cannot control a client’s complaints – that’s their decision, but you can control your reaction to them. Your outcome (O) will differ based on your reaction (R) to the client’s complaint (E).
- A soft answer turns away wrath. The phrases, “I’m so sorry to hear that, how can I help?” or “I understand how that must make you feel, how can I help?” are music to an upset client’s ears.
- Have a growth mindset. Always look for ways to learn and improve and create a better customer experience.
- Always have a smile on your face, especially when speaking to clients on the phone, as it projects through your voice to them.
- Have a “can do” attitude and practice saying “yes” to people.
- Be positive. A positive attitude and infectious and so is a negative one.
- Choose an attitude of joy. Emotions, especially happiness and anger, are reactions to outside influence. Joy is a decision – something that comes from inside and is not affected by outside influences or circumstances. Others are drawn to joyful people.
- Follow up with clients after treatments, especially with new clients. A text, e-mail, or phone call checking up on clients to see how they are doing or reacting to their treatments goes a long way.
- Send handwritten “thank you” cards. This may seem old school, but when I send a handwritten Christmas card or thank you note, I get “thank you” phone calls for taking the time out of my day to think of that person.
- Know your clients on a personal level – keep notes of things like children, pets, spouse, problems, vacations, events, and other items.
All of these items can help you become a customer service expert who clients adore and will return to again and again.
Darcy Debernarde, voted Favorite Licensed Aesthetician in DERMASCOPE Magazine’s 2019 Aestheticians’ Choice Awards, is a renown paramedical skin therapist and owner of Skin by D in Orange County, California. She is an educator in advanced skin needling, as well as a highly sought after aesthetics business performance coach. Debernarde is also the owner of Pink Door Cancer Spa, a donation only, non-profit spa for those undergoing cancer therapies.