How to Handle Unhappy Spa Clients

As a spa owner, your goal is to create a unique and memorable spa experience that keeps your clients coming back for more. After all, returning clients are more likely to upgrade their services, buy products, and spring for add-ons. In fact, up to 65% of your business revenue is likely to come from existing customers and up to 80% of your future profits will come from just 20% of your existing client base.

There’s no denying the importance of a repeat client, but how do you keep your customers coming back week after week, month after month? Developing a strong brand identity and creating a memorable customer experience are essential, but you also need to know how to deal with issues when they arise. Read on to receive some helpful strategies for handling unhappy clients so you don’t lose their business.

9 Strategies for Handling Unhappy Clients

You’ve heard the saying “the customer is always right.” Well, that may not be strictly true but the idea behind the saying is sound – it’s a business owner’s job to do what they can to make the client happy.

When something goes wrong with a treatment or a client’s expectations aren’t met, it can lead to an unpleasant situation. How you handle it determines whether that client leaves in a huff, never to return, or whether they feel like their voice has been heard and leave satisfied with the resolution.

Here are 9 strategies for handling an unhappy spa client:

1. Listen to the customer’s concern with an open and objective view.

When dealing with an unhappy client, the best thing you can do is listen. It can be tempting to jump to your staff’s defense, but you won’t be able to resolve the issue if you don’t understand what it is. Use active listening skills and do your best to be patient while the customer describes their concern. Summarize the issue to make sure you fully understand the problem and use neutral body language to avoid coming across as combative.

2. Move the conversation to a more private location.

Active listening can help keep a negative situation from boiling over, but sometimes there’s nothing you can do. If the client is becoming unruly, you may want to move the situation out of sight from other guests – you don’t want to interfere with the peaceful spa environment you’ve worked so hard to cultivate. Take the client into a treatment room or another private space to have your discussion.

3. Don’t take it personally – think about the issue logically.

It can be difficult to remain patient when you feel like you or your business is under attack, but it’s important to remember that you can’t take issues like this personally. Try to take a step back and view the issue from the client’s perspective – think about it logically, if you can. Remember as well that there may be more to the situation than whatever went wrong. We all have bad days and if the client entered the spa with an already short temper, there may not have been anything you could do to keep the situation from escalating.

4. Sympathize with the client’s concern and show them you care.

As you listen to the client express their concerns, be patient and sympathetic. Let your client know that you hear them and that you understand their concern – tell them how much their business means to you and express your willingness to find an equitable resolution. Even if there’s nothing to be done about the situation, hopefully the client will walk away feeling like you tried your best.

5. Own up to your mistakes when you are in the wrong.

We all make mistakes and, as difficult as it can be to own up to them, sometimes it’s all you can do. If you realize that the issue was your fault (or the fault of a staff member), set aside your pride and apologize for the mistake. In many cases, all the client wants is to be heard and to feel like you’re taking their concern seriously. Make your apologize sincere and direct then do what you can to make the situation right. In many cases, an apology is all the client wants – you may not even have to take any other action to resolve the situation.

6. Find a compromise or solution that satisfies the customer.

When it comes to resolving customer complaints, it can be tempting to jump right in with the offer of a free service but that isn’t always the best way to go. The best thing you can do is ask the client how they would like to see the issue resolved. Ask yourself whether the suggested resolution is reasonable and, if not, propose an alternate solution. If you can’t come up with a viable solution in the moment, tell the client you’ll follow up with them at a later time.

7. Follow up with the client to ensure their satisfaction.

Whether or not the situation was resolved in the moment, it’s important to follow up with your client. Take the opportunity to reiterate your apology and, if you had to postpone the resolution, suggest it now. Make sure to follow up with a few days – don’t leave the guest waiting for a week or more because they might get angry and could leave you a negative review online (impacting future sales).

8. Collect feedback and use it to learn from the experience.

Once an issue has been resolved, have a conversation with the staff involved and talk about the situation. Discuss what happened to cause the client to become dissatisfied, review how the situation was handled, and discuss the resolution. Ask your staff for feedback about what could have been done to avoid the instigating issue and how the situation might have been handled differently. View this as a learning opportunity for all involved to hopefully avoid a similar situation in the future.

9. Know when to cut your losses and let a client go.

There may be times when an angry customer simply won’t be talked down. It’s perfectly within your rights to make it known that you won’t tolerate abusive language toward yourself or your staff, and you have the right to ask a belligerent client to leave. If you’ve done all you can to deescalate the situation and come to a resolution, but the client refuses to back down, you may have to cut your losses and ask the client to leave and not return.

Dealing with an angry client is never a fun situation, but if you use your active listening skills and stay patient, you may find that the situation isn’t as difficult as it first seemed. All anyone ever wants is to feel seen and heard, so approach these situations with an open mind. With a little time and communication, most situations can be resolved and your now-satisfied customer will be happy to return to your spa in the future.

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