Loyal customers are valuable to your business. After struggling through years of uncertainty, the last thing most leaders would intentionally do is take clients for granted. And yet, if your spa is like many businesses, all your efforts to attract and retain customers are falling flat. "Companies have great intentions," says Joseph Michelli, best-selling author of Driven to Delight: Delivering World-Class Customer Experience the Mercedes-Benz Way. "They want to delight customers, they really do. In fact, they'll often undertake these big service initiatives only to see their efforts fizzle quickly or never take root.”
Michelli has worked with Mercedes-Benz USA to positively and radically transform its customer experience and has written books on service giants such as Zappos and Starbucks. He knows just how hard it is for most businesses to keep customers happy for the long haul. “When customers have the luxury of abundant choices, businesses must constantly look in the mirror to see where they can improve," says Michelli. "We all make mistakes from time to time. But if your culture isn't built on a sincere desire to delight the customer—no, not a desire, an obsession—those mistakes are likely to be unforgiveable ones. And the real tragedy is you'll never even realize you're making them."
If your spa business is struggling to hold onto customers and you're not sure why, it's time to take a look at your practices, processes, and priorities. Michelli reveals five big mistakes you might be making without realizing they are mistakes.
1. You're chasing new customers at the expense of existing ones.
In other words, you're directing too much money toward acquisition and hardly any toward retention. "I've noticed companies that are good acquirers of customers often are not good retainers of customers," says Michelli. "The key to business, I think, is being great at both and at using those you've retained to help with your acquisition curve. I see a lot of brands missing the message here. The cost of acquisition is so much higher than the cost of retention, so why not invest more in the cost—in the tools of retention—to maximize that multiplier?"
2. You make your customers work too hard.
Businesses must now compete in an increasingly Uber-ized society. Uber customers simply pull out their phone, push the app, a car pulls up, and takes them where they need to go, they are dropped off, no cash is exchanged, and they are done. As people begin to expect this kind of service, business leaders are being forced to find ways to make their customer's entire experience as effortless, frictionless, and yet as personal as possible. "There are companies now that will actually gas up your car for you at the touch of a button—and they wash your windows and leave a little note on the windshield," says Michelli. "You can just leave work and go straight home to your kids because you're already gassed up.”
3. You hire the wrong people out of desperation.
We hire too quickly because we want to fill a shift, and we get employees who handle customer interaction, but who lack the emotional intelligence to connect authentically with another human being. "Frequently we get pressure from our existing teams, who say, please, send us a body, and then, seemingly hours later, they're saying, please get rid of this body," says Michelli. "Somebody can be standing at the front desk or on the phone but if they're a drag on the service we're trying to provide, it's worse than having nobody there at all. We need to hire a little more slowly, be a little more cautious than we have in the past."
4. You're not training for authenticity.
Companies have to strive to hire people who truly do care about customers. They should also be training employees to connect on a human level as well as helping employees realize what customers really want and need, and then empowering them to provide it. "While it's essential to practice disciplined hiring in the search for people with emotional intelligence, those capabilities have to be awakened and reinforced through the training process," says Michelli. "You need to immerse them in your brand so they really understand what it's like to be the customer—to get unspoken needs. You need to touch the hearts of team members as well as their minds. When you do, they'll genuinely want to serve the customer."
5. You end transactions at the money exchange.
Too many businesses close the deal and politely say goodbye, but there is an enormous space here for employees to invite reengagement with the customer. At the end of a transaction, employees need to learn to really show appreciation, gratitude, and an eagerness to serve them again. "Godiva does a great job of reengaging the customer," says Michelli. "Their employees will put the chocolate in a lovely bag, actually walk around the counter and hand it to a customer. They're creating an invitation to return, and that's incredibly powerful. They pull the customer back in for a continuation of the conversation.”