Almost everyone has experienced bad service: when they walk into a business, there appears to be no purpose to the chaos. It takes 10 minutes before anyone pays attention or acknowledges them and once the staff does acknowledge them, they are busy apologizing and explaining what should have happened when the guest arrived. This explanation, however, does not accomplish anything – the guest has already decided they will never be back again. This experience is one the guest can never get back. They tell themselves they will spend their money somewhere else. They cannot wait to tell someone about their bad experience. Sound familiar?
Now imagine that scenario for hundreds of clients over three months – this situation is how a spa can fail. Businesses that operate without purpose are painful for clients and difficult to manage.
So how do skin care professionals avoid these common business pitfalls and create a positive experience for clients? The following guide will allow professionals to differentiate their brand and create a spa experience that is truly memorable.
IT STARTS WITH CUSTOMER SERVICE
Customer service training is, by necessity, knowledge-focused; demonstrate knowledge of the brand, services offered, and the need to make professional recommendations. To create truly memorable customer service experiences, the professional must understand that it is all about the emotional connection with clients.
Professionals should greet each client with a warm smile and thank them for visiting. Keep in mind that every member of the staff is an ambassador for the spa's brand. It is the spa owner or manager's responsibility to articulate this vison and philosophy. Always strive for excellence; think of each client as a superstar or a celebrity.
One of the most powerful things skin care professionals can do as a business owner is hire someone who is great with names to answer the phone and work the front of the spa. Surprising clients by remembering and using their names is an often-overlooked way to remind them they came to the right place. Owners should encourage staff members to ask opened-ended questions, listen actively, and get to know their clients better.
The day after a spa visit, staff should make a follow-up call or send a text message, e-mail, or even a card or handwritten note in the mail. This practice is not overkill! In order to break through the clutter and be memorable, the professional must be persistent. Touch base on the service that was performed, gather feedback, and reinforce the importance of any applicable post-treatment regimen. The professional should make an effort to show the client that they care. Most importantly, thank them for visiting and invite them to return.
SET GOALS FOR THE SPA AND THE CLIENT
Every event or promotion needs an objective. What is the objective for any event that is being held at the spa? Is it to introduce a new product line or educate existing clients on products, ingredients, and procedures? Is it to reward faithful clientele for their continued patronage? It is important to have a plan from the start. Identify the desired outcome of every interaction with clients. Design the experience clients walk away with to ensure their satisfaction and drive brand loyalty. As a business owner, having a plan is essential to achieving the desired outcome.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS ARE EVERYTHING
A customer's first impression can make or break their experience. Be cognizant of the client's first smells and first impressions of the spa's décor. It is always a good idea to have a "secret shopper" audit the spa quarterly. This practice is an easy and cost-effective way to obtain honest, fresh opinions aimed at improving the business. Engage clients' senses to create a more impactful first impression. The immediate entryway should have a warm, calming vibe and make use of soothing music and aromatherapy to reinforce this theme. Offer clients either a chilled or steamed hand towel that has been layered with refreshing mint! It is also important for clients to have a safe and easy place to store their personal items. Clients should not be distracted during their treatment due to wondering if their personal items are safe.
CREATE A CONNECTION
From the moment a client walks through the door, the spa and its staff are under scrutiny. As a result, clients should be wowed by the ambiance, the professionalism of the staff, and the collective attention to detail. It is the spa's job to "sweat the small stuff" so the clients do not have to – exceed expectations. Tailor services to the client's individual needs when possible. Certain treatments, such as facials, are best performed along with education. The professional can use these opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge; highlight the specific product that will be used to treat a problem area or explain the science behind a particular ingredient.
BUILD A FOLLOWING
Have a plan to create and retain new clients. Cultivate a following on social media by incentivizing clients to comment and share their experiences. Do not be afraid to ask for testimonials to support an online presence. Target local opinion leaders and invite them in for a complimentary service in exchange for publicity – be ambitious. Offer discounts delivered via text message and communicate with clients weekly to remain at the top of their mind. It is important to remember that text messages are three times more likely to be read than e-mails. If professionals are not texting their clients, they need to start! Hold VIP events, spa parties, special sneak peeks, and educational get-togethers.
GIVE CLIENTS SOME CONTROL IN THEIR EXPERIENCE
For spa regulars, give them some say in what events would be the most meaningful for them to attend. Reward the clients that are the most loyal by showing them their opinion matters. Do not be afraid to let the clients whose idea made the event possible be speakers at the event. Other clients will get an opportunity to hear about how great a product or service has been from one of their own. Make sure that spa events are something that everyone wants to attend and try to space out learning and interaction. If there is a 90-minute presentation on homecare routines, break it up into three 20-minute lectures with product testing and interaction in-between. Keep things interesting and moving with an incentive to attend again, whether that incentive comes from testing out new products in-person or offering discounted services at that time or in the future. Ensure that clients walk away wanting to attend future events.
IS THE EVENT COMPETING WITH SIMILAR EVENTS?
Skin care professionals should always know their competition. Go to surrounding spas as a client and sign-up on their e-mail list. Learn from the competition: professionals should decide what they do and do not like. Knowing the local options available to current and potential clients is invaluable. It can help the professional's spa stay price competitive and offering unique services.
PROVIDE A START TO FINISH EXPERIENCE
From the moment a client walks in the door to the very last detail of a service, utilize every second to wow them. As an owner, make it a point to have a conversation with each client about their experience that day. The most appropriate time is following service, after they have dressed. Giving clients a voice is powerful.
GIVE CLIENTS A MEMORABLE SPA VISIT
Spa owners want clients to feel that attending their spa was a smart and valuable decision; they want clients to relive the moments and recall the luxurious experiences well after leaving. Professionals want clients to spread the news on social media and in-person to friends and co-workers. These experiences are how the spa receives great reviews. Clients should walk away feeling pampered, inspired, energized, and enthusiastic.
All of these goals can be accomplished by creating emotional moments that bind memories. Think deeply about what emotions the spa and the brand should convey. Design every aspect of the spa to reinforce those emotions as those emotional moments are what clients will remember years after a service. Professionals only have a limited number of opportunities at the spa where they really have the attention of the client. Do not miss the chance to leverage every moment.
Look for opportunities during a service to surprise, interact with, and delight the client. These are elements that create binding emotions. Do the unexpected.
Create a lasting impression. Professionals are truly able to give clients an experience they will be talking about for a long time to come and may always remember. The true mark of true success is when a client refers to the spa or brings their friends to future services. When professionals connect emotionally with clients, their spa becomes memorable.