Spas and salons will do anything to attract new customers – promotions, coupons, new exquisite services… you name it! However, once the customers are through the door, the task is not complete. If you want to catch, keep, and build your customers so they value you above all others in the spa marketplace, you must pay attention to the three Cs of customer service: Communication, courtesy, and criticism.
Your clients are bombarded with advertisements, offers, and discounts from competing spas and salons. To reel them in and keep them, you must offer extra value and communicate that value effectively. It's more than just regular advertisements. You could (and should!) write articles for trade magazines or send out press releases with a good story or news based around your spa. It lets your existing customers know what's going on and provides something eye-catching for new clients. Pitching ideas to your local television and radio stations also does not hurt. Yes, getting through to those channels is a challenge. However, one successful radio placement is worth thousands of dollars in free publicity and (hopefully) new business.
It's in the Details
Today's clients are educated consumers, so you should stay on your toes in order to market to them. There are many ways of communicating: face-to-face, letters, e-mail, website updates, and phone calls. You should make it a point to touch base with your clients at least once a month. This may sound simple, but it requires maintaining an up-to-date and accurate database of clients' contact details (with the correct spelling of their names). Just imaging how impersonal it is to receive repeated mail or e-mail promotions from a spa that can't spell your name right. In the customer's mind, they're thinking, "Well, if they can't spell my name, I'm clearly not that important to them." It's all about the small details. A gift certificate for a client's birthday goes a long way by letting the customer know that you remember them, you thought of them, and you appreciate them. If a customer of yours got married (and hopefully visited your facility to get ready for the big day), send them a note saying you hope the event went well and you look forward to seeing them after the honeymoon. Small gestures have great rewards.
Say Thank You
Take steps to show clients that they mean everything to you. Doing this creates an environment where customers want to come again and again. Some companies do it with a beautifully presented note, thanking the client for their support. Others simply send the client a thank you e-mail. Regardless of your method, letting the customer know that you appreciate their business is a great step to making sure this customer remains with you for many years to come.
Another reason to say thanks: thanking the customer for a great referral! Never forget to show your appreciation if a client has brought his/her friends and family to your spa. Referrals are the best way to build a business, no question. No advertisement or direct mail will do what a good referral can do for your bottom line. So if your customer has referred someone to your facility, be sure to thank the customer with a small coupon, a gift certificate, or just a thank you card.
Install a good feedback mechanism, as customers must be able to communicate freely with you. It's a fantastic way to develop the relationship, as it allows you to respond to their needs and makes them feel special. You can place a box by your front desk, with small pieces of paper on which clients can write notes to you. You can also dedicate a portion of your website to feedback, allowing visitors to make a comment regarding your spa services and experience.
Stand by Your Word
When you make a promise to a customer, you must keep it. If you say that either you or a staff member will call a customer back by noon, you must move mountains if you have to, but make sure to follow through. If you promise to give a client a complimentary foot massage with their pedicure, you must ensure that it is done. (That means informing the nail technician of your promise.) Customers need to be able to trust that you'll do what you said. It's not only your products that have to be reliable – your word must be too.
Use the Power of the Internet
Many customers now prefer going to the Internet to research spas and skin care products before buying. Make sure your website is inviting and informative. Use client-friendly language that is easy to understand. Utilize the words "you" and "we" in order to create an easy-going tone. The power of the Internet is ever-reaching now, and if you're not utilizing it to its full capacity, you're missing out.
Put coupons on your website. Allow clients to sign up for an e-newsletter through your site. Link your site to a blog where you share your thoughts on skin care, beauty, and wellness. (A blog is like an online diary where you can be less formal, and speak to clients on issues that may concern them: Botox, skin cancer, masking a pimple, you name it!) Link your website to informative articles and how-tos. In other words, your site should be a must-go-to place for anyone who wants to know about skin care/beauty/nail care, etc. It should not be just a listing of your services and prices. Use the Internet to offer more to your clients.
Courtesy works and never goes out of style. Being polite to people at all times makes them feel special and loved – those are the feelings you want clients to experience when they visit your spa. When a client calls, they want to feel like they are the center of your universe and that you value them as much as their credit card.
Be on first-name basis – no one likes being a number. Remember to be polite and respectful. If you don't know how to pronounce someone's name, simply ask. If a client is disappointed or upset, ask what you can do to remedy the situation. They may just need to vent, or perhaps they need to come in for a treatment/re-do. In either case, listening is important. Here's a short list of basic courtesy rules for you and your staff to follow:
- Be warm and friendly to clients on the phone and in person.
- Listen carefully and maintain eye contact.
- Keep your promises.
- Do not take customers for granted.
- Thank clients for their business and referrals.
It costs absolutely nothing to be courteous – it is much cheaper than any advertising or marketing campaigns you could do. And it's a sure-fire way of building up your client base and ensuring repeat business.
Not enough attention is given to criticism in various business books and courses. Meanwhile, criticism is one of the best catalysts of progress. If addressed correctly, it can be the most wonderful thing that can happen to your business, because it forces you to change and improve your facility. It is difficult to accept criticism without being defensive. However, it is important to keep an open mind when a client offers suggestions for improvements in your spa. Look at it as a great opportunity to do better. Don't take it personally; stay calm and listen carefully to the complaint. If there's a problem, acknowledge it. Let the customer know you care and let them know how you will address their concern. Then, follow through!
The best spas will have a fast turnaround time dealing with complaints. These spas know that it's much more cost-effective to develop good relationships with existing customers than to try to get new ones. Spas and salons that don't take complaints seriously or lose them in the system (e.g. client complained to the front desk associate, but that complaint never made it to the spa manager), will find their customers walking. The number one reason people – especially women – take their business elsewhere is because they have been treated poorly.
There is a small number of customers who will keep complaining no matter what you do for them. They will never be happy and you will likely be better off without them. In such cases, it may be wise to refer them elsewhere.
Overall, however, clients complain only when there truly is some sort of a problem. Maybe they're constantly left to wait for over 15 minutes during each visit. If that's the case, address the reason that your staff is running behind. Perhaps more time needs to be allotted to each appointment. Maybe a client feels that the aesthetician could not knowledgeably answer her questions. You might need to address the issue of education and training in your facility in order to make sure that your team members are on top of their game. Perhaps a client has purchased a product that has not lived up to her expectations. Speak to the client about your product return or exchange policy. Ask what they were expecting from the product and what you can do to make them feel better. Offer a small discount on the next product purchase. Make sure that your team members carefully describe product specifications so that customers are not misled by what a product can and cannot do. Whatever the case, look at criticism as an opportunity to improve your facility.
In our times of tough economy, spa services are often not a necessity for our clients. Therefore, we must work extra hard to ensure client loyalty and satisfaction. Providing superb no-one-can-beat-us customer service is one of the best ways to make sure your customers get exactly what they are looking for at your spa or skin care center.
For more information about Lyn Ross and Institut' DERMed, please visit www.idermed.com