Archive for December 9th, 2010
Because stress levels are at an all-time high during the holidays, there’s an increased potential for conflict. According to Maribeth Kuzmeski, author of And the Clients Went Wild! How Savvy Professionals Win All the Business They Want (Wiley), short fuses and shrinking wallets can make the holidays a precarious time for any spa owner. “Every business owner know things will go wrong from time to time,” says Kuzmeski. “It’s how you handle these episodes that count. And during the holidays, the stakes are even higher.” Here she shares seven tips for recovery when you or one of your staff members drops the ball:
Learn to recognize (and truly understand) your customers’ situations. “Teach employees to understand the context of a situation and to sympathize with customers,” says Kuzmeski. When your staff members are attentive and proactive, often they can solve a problem before it becomes one.
Make sure you always follow through. Don’t tell someone you will be with him or her in a moment unless you know you will be. “Great customer service isn’t necessarily about getting it right every single time,” says Kuzmeski. “But what your customers absolutely do have to see from you is that you are doing your level best to deliver on everything you’ve promised them.”
Be very specific with customers. Vagueness is a sure path to lost business. “While hearing that someone is going to address a problem is nice, hearing exactly how it will be solved is more comforting,” says Kuzmeski.
Extend a peace offering. “If holiday stress gets the best of you and you don’t handle a client properly, immediately reach out and make it right,” advises Kuzmeski. “Even the simplest of gestures can be effective. Offer an apology when you’ve made a mistake. Then, make things right by extending a peace offering. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. It can be as simple as a handwritten note, a refund, or a coupon.”
Have a standard service protocol and some key recovery phrases at the ready. “Sometimes people have good intentions but just don’t know what to say,” says Kuzmeski. “It’s not unusual for a well-meaning employee to get flustered and say the wrong thing, which only exacerbates the situation. You don’t have to provide a rigid script—just a few phrases like ‘I’m so sorry this happened to you,’ or ‘I would feel the same way if I were in your shoes’ can calm a client down and salvage the relationship.”
Give frontline employees more power. Make sure employees know they can and should do exactly what it takes to keep clients coming back—even if it costs the spa a little in the short run. “It’s better to give a client a price break than to lose the hundreds of dollars he or she may spend with you in the future,” says Kuzmeski.
Remember, your clients can be your best (or worst) marketing tool. “If you take a bad experience and turn it into a great one—by comping the client’s treatment or perhaps giving her a gift card for a future service—she will talk about it,” says Kuzmeski. “Obviously, that’s a far better alternative than having her out griping to everyone about how your spa did her wrong and how she is never doing business with you again.”