Here's a sobering fact: according to a variety of articles and blog posts on the Internet (like this one—or this spa-specific one) 68% of customers stop doing business with a company due to bad service. After doing a little bit of digging, this stat seems legit, per this American Management Association (AMA) list of "25 Ways to Keep Customers for Life." Scroll down to the last item in the list, and you'll see that AMA positions this as "indifference." Apathy kills, man. So to be successful, spa and salon owners—as well as their employees—must avoid it.
If A Client Starts Over, It's Probably Your Fault
Believe it or not, most customers want to be loyal. They don't want to start over. They don't want to go through the hassle of researching new spas, establishing new relationships, or using new products. Think of the types of services you provide: hair care, wax treatments, skin care, etc. These are all the types of services that demand a certain level of trust between esthetician and client. When a customer becomes comfortable, there's no reason for a change. They have to be motivated to change. And that motivation is typically indifference, or a horrible experience.
The best way to approach a new customer is to assume that they have trepidation, simply because they're dealing with the unknown: you. Like in other aspects of life, most people crave stability. So if you're struggling to retain clients, it's important to look inward, not outward. How are you treating your customers from start to finish? Are you customizing their experience, or providing one-size-fits-all service? Remembering that each customer is unique is the first apathy trap to avoid.
It's Okay To Get Personal
While in the past we've preached to be careful about bringing your personal life into your customer interactions, forming relationships with your customers is critical for retention—as long as it's drama-free. There's no blueprint for establishing genuine rapport, but it's also not rocket science. Being a good listener is always a good starting point. Over time, what started as small talk can develop into client knowledge (more on that in a sec), and conversation becomes much easier.
The spa and spa and salon industry is unique in the sense that you're spending an hour or two (depending on the treatment) with your clients. Only experience with that customer will teach you about their personality. While one client may look as it as a time to unwind and enjoy the sounds of silence, another may appreciate banter and companionship. The message here isn't to be BFFs; it's that learning about your customer doesn't just make that chitchat easier. It also makes it much easier to tailor their treatments going forward.
Once You Know Them, You Can Pamper Them
While having a keen ear allows you to get off on the right foot with a customer, it also proves that you possess an attention to detail. That's when the first threads of trust are weaved into the esthetician-client relationship. Just as conversation becomes easier, with each treatment you'll uncover more about your customer's specific needs and preferences. You client will waltz through your doors with a carefree attitude, confident that they're going to have an exceptional experience.
Like with most relationships, you're now past that feeling-out process. Trust has been established, and the client is comfortable. But this isn't the time to rest on your laurels. Often, new clients get treated like royalty since a spa or salon is trying to make a good first impression. Having that same mentality with your existing clients—especially now that you know them—ensures they'll return, and will start sending referrals your way.
The moral of the story? Turn on your senses, and pay attention. It takes a ton of mental focus and endurance to do this for every appointment, but the benefits are obvious. Your customers can go get a hair cut, a pedicure, or a facial anywhere. Assuming you're providing topnotch treatment already, in the end they're going to choose you because you understand their specific needs, and make them feel special. That's how you deal a death blow to indifference.