That first experience can have a lasting effect on how the client approaches future massage and spa sessions.
What might seem surprising is the journey of a client begins well before they ever reach the treatment room and continues long after the service is over.
As a massage therapist, it’s easy to forget what the entire journey feels like for a client who relies on massage for physical and sometimes emotional wellbeing.
For most massage therapists working as employees, the responsibility begins during the treatment and ends immediately after.
A therapist who only provides massage may not realize how long it took, on the part of the marketing department and front-desk staff, to convince the client to schedule an appointment.
The therapist may not be aware of the necessary (and frequent) follow-up that encouraged the client to return. Here’s how to attract clients as a massage therapist.
The same can be said for a business owner who spends little or no time delivering a service. An owner who has never treated a client may not realize the complexity of service involved behind the treatment room door.
Business owners should constantly examine each segment of the client experience. Only through examination is it possible to identify ways in which service can be improved and increase the likelihood that positive experiences will be delivered more consistently.
How to Attract Clients as a Massage Therapist
A client’s journey can be divided into three main segments: before, during and after the treatment. Each segment of the journey carries equal weight of importance
- Before: This segment of the client journey begins the moment the client is introduced to your business. This can occur organically through an online search, a referral from a friend or relative, or through any type of marketing effort.
This segment ends the moment the client walks through your business door.
This segment includes any communication that takes place regarding scheduling, general information and payment if made in advance.
- During: This segment of the client journey begins the moment the client walks into your space and ends the moment they exit.
This segment includes the intake process, service, checkout and rescheduling attempts made on the premise.
- After: This segment of the client journey begins the moment the client exits your space to the moment they reschedule or return.
This segment includes any follow-up communications and attempts to get the client to reschedule.
Back to before: Once the client has rescheduled, they enter the before segment again and the cycle repeats.
Understandably, a service provider would not repeat the exact steps taken for a new client as they would a returning client—but consistency in both communication and how a client is treated builds reliability and trust.
Review the Client Experience
One of the best ways to examine what clients are experiencing is to solicit a review. Clients may not feel comfortable immediately discussing their true feelings.
The chance of a client being honest in person is even lower when the service provider is the one requesting feedback. This is especially true if the feedback is negative.
Giving the client the option to review their experience anonymously or following up after they are safely out of the space can increase honesty tremendously.
Actively listen without interruption and take all feedback seriously.
The client may even be willing to give suggestions on how service can be improved.
Online reviews can be very revealing. All therapists and business owners are encouraged to pay particular attention to the feedback given for things that occur outside of the treatment room.
Take note of any issues with online scheduling, location, noise, convenience and any other common responses.
While negative reviews highlight opportunities for improvement, positive reviews provide opportunities for setting standards for training and to develop processes.
If a significant number of clients mention being impressed by a personalized email reminder that arrives 48 hours before their appointment, for example, this needs to become a consistent practice.
Another way to examine the client journey is to take a walk-in clients’ shoes.
Schedule an appointment through the company website. Visit the social media page. Call the business number.
Drive to the practice to experience traffic and parking availability during peak treatment hours. Get on the massage table for a treatment. Read through the follow-up correspondence.
These are all things a client would do.
By walking through the entire process of scheduling an appointment through follow-up, small service flaws and breakdowns in the journey can be caught.
Consistency is Key
Pay attention to consistency between what was promised and what was delivered.
The questions in this section will help you self-evaluate your place of business.
During the treatment, clients want to feel welcomed and safe. Did the service begin and end on time? Were the needs and preferences of the client put first?
A client trusts that the person providing the treatment is qualified and passionate about what they do. Does the service provider seem disengaged or unqualified? Is the current experience consistent with past ones? Is the current experience similar to what was described in reviews?
Many times the decision to try a new massage or spa establishment is based on referrals and positive reviews. If the reviews mention a specific unique feature, it is fair for a new or returning client to expect that same level of treatment every time.
For example, if a website states that every client will receive their choice of aromatherapy at the start and hot towels on their feet at the end of the massage, the expectation has been set.
A client expects that consistent level of service to be delivered each time without fail.
Arguably the most neglected segment of the client journey is the follow-up. Therapists and business owners focus so heavily on attracting new clients and treating them well, but then not enough attention is given to how a client is treated when they leave.
Has an email or postcard been sent to simply check-in? Do therapists or owners speak negatively about former clients on public forums?
Does the massage therapist or business owner provide consistent, relevant and engaging information to help prevent or explain common ailments? Was there even an invitation to return?
Take some time to visit competing locations to see how your massage practice or spa measures up. Reviewing a different location allows everything to be seen through fresh eyes. Before the treatment, there are many things to look for.
Is the information on the website and social media pages easy to navigate, up to date and relevant?
Pay particular attention to the phone and email etiquette. Are the greetings exchanged professional and friendly? Were questions answered in a timely and reasonable manner?
Learn From Other Industries
Great customer service is not unique to the massage industry. Reviewing other industries is like looking at the world through an unbiased lens.
Consider a visit to a local coffee chain. Customers expect their beverages to be made to order, allergies and preferences respected without criticism, and fast service.
Long waits, frequent mistakes and cold coffee indicate poor service. The employees would be trained in all ways to deliver not only a great cup of coffee but a great experience during a potentially brief visit.
So, how would each segment look at a coffee chain?
Before the customer walks through the door, the website and social media pages provide correct business information.
The location, hours of operation, prices and menu are very easy to find.
During the service, the customer is greeted by a friendly, smiling staff member who quickly takes the order and gives correct change. The staff members always keep their workspace and equipment clean and free from cross-contamination.
The proper beverage is handed to the correct customer.
After the service, the customer is invited back. They may receive coupons and membership opportunities in the mail.
The customer may also follow the coffee chain on social media where they are informed of new seasonal beverages and retail items in the store. From there the cycle continues.
Both internal and external examination of similar and unique industries presents creative service opportunities that can be applied to the massage industry.
Positive experiences and reviews should be engrained as high-level service standards. Negative experiences and reviews should be leveraged as customer service training opportunities.
The entire team, including the owner, should be receiving treatments frequently.
This serves as a constant reminder that a massage experience extends far beyond the confines of the treatment room.
The success of a business relies heavily on delivering great service consistently.
Take a moment to explore the journey your clients are taking. In what areas do you excel—and where can you improve?
Kamillya Hunter owns Spa Analytics, a business that offers strategic consulting to the massage and spa industry nationwide.
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