Repeat clients are the backbone of any business. As much as 80% of a spa’s revenue comes from just 20% of the existing customer base.
The best way to keep your clients coming back is to deliver a memorable spa experience. If your clients feel welcomed when they walk in the door and have confidence that their treatments will be performed safely and effectively, they’re more likely to return. Everything from the décor scheme to the fragrance you use in your treatment rooms impacts the client’s experience and plays a role in their decision to book another treatment after their first.
But not every client is going to have a flawless experience. No matter how well you train your staff or how hard you work to keep your spa running smoothly, things are bound to happen. It’s inevitable that you’ll find yourself dealing with some unhappy clients.
Dealing with dissatisfied clients is part of the job description and how well you handle the challenge determines whether that client will keep coming back or whether you’ve lost them for good. Here’s what you need to know about handling a client who has a negative experience at your spa.
Tips for Handling an Unhappy Client
When a client’s expectations aren’t met or when something goes wrong during a treatment, it can create an unpleasant and challenging situation. How you respond in situations like these determines whether things stay civil and come to a point of resolution or whether they escalate, and the client walks out in a huff, never to come back.
Here are some steps to take when dealing with dissatisfied clients:
1. Listen to the client’s concern.
The best thing you can do when dealing with an unhappy client is listen. Try to keep an open mind and approach the situation objectively – don’t take things personally. If appropriate, ask questions to ensure you understand the client’s concern. You might even ask how the client would like the issue to be resolved before offering up a resolution of your own. In some cases, giving the client an opportunity to talk things through is enough to resolve their complaint and preserve the relationship.
2. Move the conversation to a private location, if appropriate.
If the situation is one that can’t be quickly resolved – or if the interaction is becoming heated – it may be wise to move the conversation to a more private location. An unhappy client has the potential to disrupt other guests and detract from the relaxing atmosphere you’ve worked so hard to cultivate in your spa. If a longer discussion is warranted, take the client into a treatment room or another private space.
3. Acknowledge and take responsibility for your mistakes.
Everyone makes mistakes, even business owners like you. As you listen to the client’s concern and identify the problem, show the client you understand – and that you care – by owning up to the mistakes that were made. It can be difficult to set aside your pride, but an apology goes a long way in resolving customer complaints. Make the apology sincere and then offer up a solution or ask the client how they’d like to move forward.
4. Come to a compromise that satisfies the customer.
If a treatment was performed incorrectly, the best resolution may be to offer the client a refund or a credit for future treatments. Again, however, it’s wise to ask the client what kind of resolution they suggest before offering up one of your own. This helps the client feel seen and heard, and it helps ensure that the situation is resolved quickly and amicably.
If the client’s request is unreasonable, it’s appropriate to counter it and come to some kind of compromise. You also have the option of tabling the issue. If you can’t come to a resolution in the moment, tell the client you’ll follow up with them to discuss it at a later time.
5. Follow up with the client after resolving the issue.
Even if you’re able to resolve the problem in the moment, it’s important to follow up with the client afterward. Use this check-in as an opportunity to reiterate your apology and emphasize how much you value the client’s business. If you weren’t able to resolve the issue right away, don’t wait more than a few days to follow up to continue the discussion. Leaving an angry client waiting increases the risk of them leaving a negative review online which could impact your future sales.
6. Learn from the experience.
Once you’ve resolved the problem with a dissatisfied client, revisit the issue to see what you can learn from the experience. It may be appropriate to have a sit-down with your staff to talk about what happened and to make a plan to prevent it from recurring in the future. It’s helpful to ask your staff for feedback about the situation and what could have been done to avoid it – they may also have suggestions for how it might have been handled differently.
Every situation is different, but it’s important to approach each one with an open mind and a listening ear. Sometimes all a client wants is to be heard – the simple act of listening to their concerns might be all they need to feel satisfied and to return to your spa in the future.
Is the Client Always Right?
There’s a saying in the service industry that the customer is always right, but are they really? The phrase is generally understood to mean that customer satisfaction should be a priority and staff should do what it takes to resolve issues. While client satisfaction is certainly important, you may come across clients who try to abuse the system.
If a treatment is administered incorrectly or if a mistake is made during billing, it’s necessary and appropriate to make amends with the client. Some clients, however, won’t be happy no matter what you do. In cases where an unhappy client’s demands exceed reason – or if the client becomes aggressive or disrespectful – you’ll have to decide how far you’re willing to go to keep them.
Is it worth the headache of repeatedly dealing with a client who simply won’t be satisfied? Is it worth exposing your staff to disrespectful language or behavior?
You and your staff have every right to be treated respectfully, even if you’ve made a mistake. As a spa owner, you also have the right to run your business as you see fit. It’s good business to keep your clients satisfied, but it’s up to you to decide whether you’re willing to bend over backwards to make it happen. If the situation with an unhappy client escalates or they develop a habit of causing trouble, consider whether it might be worth “firing” them. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask that a client not return once the situation has been addressed and, if possible, remedied.
Dealing with an unhappy client is never pleasant, but it doesn’t have to escalate into a nightmare situation. If you stay patient and put the tips above into practice, you may find that resolving customer satisfaction issues isn’t as difficult as you once thought.