Though these days we’re practicing social distancing, with 22,160 spa locations across the country providing over 190 million treatments per year, the competition between local spas to attract and retain loyal clients has recently been at an all-time high. While the size of the industry is certainly impressive, it also means that to remain competitive spa owners must look for opportunities to scale their business and increase their margins without breaking the bank. Doing so doesn’t necessarily mean cutting back on expensive supplies or discounting service offerings. Instead, spa owners can follow in the footsteps of industries like healthcare and financial services to automate processes using artificial intelligence, or AI.
But what is AI, really? Simply put, it’s the ability of a computer program or machine to think and learn. You’re probably already using a machine or computer to handle many of your daily tasks, so you might as well do it a little smarter, right? However, because AI has historically been an expensive investment, many spa and salon owners haven’t seen it as an option for them to explore. Fortunately, its rise in popularity and potential to improve productivity have made AI more cost-effective and easier to implement than ever before. This has allowed for an increase in adoption, with many wellness businesses using it in ways that you may not even realize, such as ensuring clients see their preferred esthetician, employee scheduling, and even developing personalized regimens based on client needs.
Whether you’re an independent spa owner or oversee multiple locations, you can incorporate AI into your business’ day-to-day, starting with something very familiar—a phone call. For times when it’s not possible to answer the phone personally, advanced phone technology can provide customers with the information they need automatically, whether it’s booking an appointment or learning more about your spa’s offerings. Once spas are up and running again, owners and operators will be busier than ever. Here are four ways that intelligent phone tech can help you give your spa clients next-level service.
1. Free Up Staff to Spend More Time with Clientele In-Person
With advanced phone technology in place, spa owners can use virtual agents to answer every call and offer answers to common questions. For instance, if a customer asks, “Do you offer acupuncture?” The agent can respond, “Yes! We offer acupuncture treatments.” If customers typically call to ask about promotions or specific spa offerings, owners can include that information in the programmed responses, too. This frees up spa staff to focus on in-person clientele and automates requests that employees get several times a day.
2. Simplify Bookings by Automating the Appointment Scheduling Process
Most wellness-based businesses require direct interaction between clients and their preferred spa in order to arrange appointments, which typically occurs over the phone. Even if you offer online appointment booking, a new client most likely won’t know about it, so their first instinct is to call. Modern phone technology can help address both of these scenarios by allowing spas to text callers a URL to their reservation system. For instance, if a caller says, “I’d like to book an appointment for a hot stone massage,” the agent can respond with, “OK, I can text you a link to schedule your hot stone massage appointment or connect you to the receptionist directly. Which would you prefer?” When callers choose to schedule their appointments online, it will free up your staff to focus on providing in-person service.
3. Avoid Missed Booking Opportunities by Staffing Appropriately or Automatic
You probably look at historical sales data and seasonal trends when considering your staffing needs, but have you ever considered staffing based on the timing of calls you receive? It’s not uncommon for multiple calls to come in at once when clients have downtime, which can easily overwhelm a receptionist and prompt them to put callers on hold. Or, if you’re an independent owner with the role of both providing services and answering the phone, interrupting a treatment to answer a call is not possible, meaning that incoming customer calls are diverted to voicemail. Putting customers on hold or routing them to voicemail could end up costing you a missed appointment since many of today’s consumers expect immediate service and will look elsewhere if they aren’t particularly loyal to a business. Advanced phone technology will allow you to track incoming call volume and peak times to inform your staffing decisions, and help you capitalize on more opportunities to provide prompt customer service over the phone.
4. Enhance Customer Service by Improving Employee Training
Even the best receptionist training programs can’t anticipate every customer service issue. While cross-training is a great practice, each employee will have a different level of comfort when handling customer questions on the phone or knowing what information is important to relay to estheticians or massage therapists. For phone training, you can use a call recording feature to find good examples of positive customer interactions or to keep track of specific client comments, such as allergies or treatment requests. Some modern phone systems even provide transcripts, which should be reviewed often in order to keep track of details, get ahead of any customer service issues and give specific feedback to individual employees.
Answering calls with intelligence streamlines experiences and increases levels of customer satisfaction, productivity and profitability. The combination of AI with superior spa offerings and top-notch client service sets the stage for spa owners to gain a competitive advantage in their local neighborhoods and continue to effectively and efficiently grow their businesses for years to come.
About the Author: Bob Summers is general manager of CallJoy, which was built within Area 120, Google’s internal incubator for experimental ideas. CallJoy is an easy-to-use cloud-based phone agent that enables small business owners to delight customers.