Any spa owner willing to endure what it takes to start a business knows keeping clients satisfied should be a top priority. But what you may not realize is that you have developed an array of bad habits that work against you. Closing each customer interaction with “Thank you for your business,” offering discounts for continued loyalty, or working the occasional few hours past close-of-business to resolve a client’s problem is nice, even commendable, but these practices don’t mean you’re always putting clients first. Here are eight ways in which you may be inadvertently failing your customers.
You believe your number-one business goal is to make money.
An overly acute focus on improving the bottom line takes your attention away from the people with the power to raise it: your customers. The difference between paying attention to service so that your clients will give you more business and doing so because serving the customer is your first priority may feel slight, but it’s significant. If it serves the client, you do it. If it doesn’t, you don’t—even if you make less money. This neutralizes moral dilemmas and really simplifies your life. It can have a miraculous effect on your spa’s growth and success.
You let the little things slide.
As a business owner, there are a lot of “big” things you’d never neglect. However, you might not be such a stickler for what you believe are smaller things. Rushing through paperwork so you can get home early, failing to spell-check an email or two, and running late to a meeting probably won’t matter that much six months from now, you think. But that’s not necessarily the case. So often in life, it’s the small details that differentiate good from great. If it impacts a customer’s happiness, best interests, comfort level, or anything else even the slightest bit, it’s not a little thing. When you fail to get the small details right, you fail to put customers first. On the other hand, promises kept, deadlines met, little extra flourishes, and small acts of kindness add up to happy clients.
If it’s not broken, you don’t fix it.
If the check-in paperwork your receptionist uses has been in place for years, and you’re not getting many complaints, why tinker with it? If your knowledge is sufficient to handle most of your clients’ problems, why spend valuable time learning more? The answer is simple: If you don’t consistently strive to improve, you’re not putting your clients first. While you don’t need to spend every minute of your spare time attending conferences and taking classes, you should make it a priority to stay familiar with the way the spa industry is growing and changing. You should also do everything possible to offer your customers the quality and value they deserve. Always question the status quo, and ask yourself how you can make it better. You don’t just want your customers to be satisfied; you want them to be pleasantly surprised every time they come to your spa.
You downplay your mistakes.
Nobody likes the negative feelings that accompany making a mistake. That’s why many business owners (and their employees) resolve problems with clients as quickly as possible and then try to never speak of the matter again. When your company makes a mistake, no matter how big or small, it’s your responsibility to stare that mistake in the face and get to the bottom of what went wrong. You need to figure out why it happened and make sure it doesn’t occur again. Every mistake is a good learning opportunity. Maybe you’ll figure out that you need to improve a quality-control procedure, or update your record-keeping systems. When you sweep a mistake under the rug instead of allowing it to make you better, you aren’t putting your clients’ future interests first.
You subscribe to the idea that the customer is always right.
It’s simply good business to try to find out what each customer wants and then do whatever is in your power to deliver it. However, when customers are simply wrong and their best interests are at stake, it’s your responsibility to say so. Allowing customers to be right when they aren’t may pacify them temporarily, but in the end, it won’t be good for either of you. Putting clients first sometimes means politely, but honestly, disagreeing with or disappointing them.
You find yourself telling white lies.
Telling clients white lies or exaggerating, misdirecting, or omitting might make life easier temporarily. It’s easy to justify such behavior, but these little lies are as bad as the whoppers. There is always a chance that customers will see through you and call you on the carpet. Even if they don’t, a willingness to play fast and loose with the truth suggests a broader attitude that relegates clients to second or third priority. (In return, that’s usually how they’ll rate you.) Honesty can be tough in the moment, but a reputation for trustworthiness—or untrustworthiness—can stick with you for life. Live by a policy of never holding back or sugarcoating, and you’ll gain loyalty that money can’t buy. Plus, when you stick to the truth, you don’t have to worry about getting the story straight or remembering what you have and haven’t shared. You know you’re doing the right thing.
You spend more time trying to get off the phone than really hearing what the customer has to say.
Chances are, you roll out the red carpet in order to get prospective clients to the spa, and you’re probably willing to bear with the whims, questions, and requests of fairly new customers whose business isn’t yet cemented. But what about older, more established clients? Do you take the same amount of time and care with them, or do you assume they’ll stick with you out of habit and convenience? Companies that become number one don’t do so because they win customers over once but because they do it every day. A good experience last month usually won’t keep a customer coming back this month if he or she believes that your level of service has slipped.
You feel your main obligation to employees is signing their paychecks.
While you don’t treat employees like dirt, you may feel that you don’t owe them any special favors, either. After all, you’re paying them—isn’t that enough? Well, no. The way your people treat customers reflects the way you treat them. Are you courteous, kind, enthusiastic? Do you listen when they talk to you and try to accommodate their needs? Or are you short, perfunctory, and even sometimes rude? Your job is to serve others, period. You can’t do that by making distinctions between the people who work for you and the people for whom you provide goods or services. Realize that you set the tone for your spa’s personality and that you’re creating a tribe of people who will beat the drum for your message. Try to see your employees through a client’s eyes and be honest: Would they win first or second place in a customer service competition? If you don’t like the answer, try adjusting your own attitude first.
After reading through all of these scenarios, the one way to put your customers first is probably pretty obvious: Put them first. There can be no excuses and no exceptions.