More than ever before, customers are empowered. The Information Age has made it easier to be picky; with lists of service providers only a click away, it's easy to research a place before ever stepping from behind the computer screen. This doesn't even include review aggregators, or paid services like Angie's List. The bottom line is that many customers are going to do their due diligence before they ever walk through your doors. This also means that when they arrive, you have to make an immediate—and strong—impression.
High-Tech or High-Touch?
Do you need to make sure your online house is in order? Absolutely. If you have an outdated website, or horrible Yelp reviews, it's certainly not going to help your cause. But for service-based businesses, we believe sustained success still demands a hands-on approach. Engagement goes a long way toward retaining clients, and receiving referrals from them. And while social media engagement can be a beneficial marketing tool, it isn't as powerful as the engagement opportunities that present themselves when you're face-to-face with your customers. Since your clients expect to be treated like kings and queens, high-touch is still at the heart of most successful spas and salons.
It All Starts With Attitude
Simply understanding this client expectation means you have the right mindset. But your entire staff, from the person manning the front desk to your estheticians, must have have this mindset, too. That cliché about only being as strong as your weakest link is true; all it takes is one person with a negative attitude to shift a client experience—which ultimately leads to the wrong kind of engagement. If you and your staff are committed to nurturing a client the moment they arrive until the moment they leave, that's half the battle. Most terrible customer service experiences come from a staff member that's forgotten to be attentive or empathetic.
The Little Details Matter
We've discussed the importance of keeping a tidy work station, as well as keeping your entire establishment—even the restrooms—supremely clean. The treatments you provide can be stellar, but if a client isn't comfortable in their environment, that's all they will remember. As far as engagement, they remember small details too, such as being offered a drink when they arrive, or scheduling their next appointment post-treatment. These are touches that come across as professional and detail-oriented.
Through Conversation, Get To Know Your Clients
It's no secret: small talk can be painful, especially with brand-new clients. However, the ability to make conversation is crucial, especially to the client-esthetician relationship. It allows you to make real, personal connections, and also create a catalog of topics for your repeat customers. That latter point is important: it means conversation only gets easier, even for you introverts. While a client is coming to you because they trust you at treatment time, feeling like they're where everybody knows their name makes them feel special.
Oh, And Don't Forget To Pamper
Another surefire way to make your customers feel special is by pampering them. There are a variety of ways to do this, such as providing between-treatment massages or giving away an end-of-treatment sample product. A bigger step is providing free add-on services, especially for your most loyal customers. This is another way to treat them like royalty, and introduces them to a new service, one they might be willing to pay for in the future.
The message here is clear: don't be afraid to engage. This is a perfect case of the journey being as important as the destination. Sure, you can provide them with the treatment they asked for, and if you do a stellar job, they might return. But if you couple that stellar treatment with extraordinary customer service from the second they step inside your spa until the moment they leave it, you can guarantee that they will.