Good Customer Service Builds Relationships
This may or may not be news but good customer service builds relationships. Our clients aren't seeing us because we are "the best massage therapist in town". Okay, sure, that's what they will tell you, but is that really the reason? Our clients come to us on a regular basis because we have developed a good relationship with them and offer excellent customer service.
The real reason that our massage business is successful is because we are offering excellent customer service.
More Than Just A Great Massage
It's common for us to feel like all we need to do is give a great massage and then clients will come filling the books. All to often, we tend to think that our clients continue to rebook because we are "amazing" at our craft. Or, we despair that folks aren't re-booking because maybe we just "aren't good enough".
Well, it's time to change that perspective!
Generally, when a new client schedules an appointment with us, they naturally assume that we have completed our basic education and have adequate training in the field. For many clients, massage typically feels all the same to them.
For instance, I had a client come in once who raved about how her former massage therapist "got rid" of her chronic neck pain. Then he moved his office further away and no longer provided free parking, so she looked for another massage therapist that was in a more convenient location.
Yes, that's right, even though the therapist had given a wonderful massage that helped her deal with her neck pain, that in itself wasn't good enough to override the inconvenience his new move had created for the client. In most cases, it is everything EXCEPT the actual massage that will determine whether or not the client wants to return.
Common Client Complaints
Here's a general list of complaints I've heard from clients who have switched therapists, I'm sure some of these are familiar to you as well:
- Therapist talks too much during session, or encourages conversation
- Therapist doesn't listen to client request, "I asked for my legs and feet and she/he spent the entire time working on my arms and shoulders
- Client felt rushed out of the room after the session.
- Client was expecting a massage and therapist performed energy work or a lot of stretching techniques
- Room was always cold
- Therapist kissed client's forehead at the end of the session
- Client perceived therapist seemed bored or not interested
- The office and/or bathroom was dirty
- Oil-stained linens
Reviewing these complaints, do you notice a pattern? Yes, they are all customer service issues, not specifically about the massage itself! Here's another idea, go to your computer and type yelp.com into the URL. Then type "massage therapy" and the name of your city into the search boxes.
Pay special attention and read through the comments on businesses that have low ratings. You will see that most complaints are customer service issues. For myself, I have had many wonderful massages, but didn't return to many of those wonderful therapists because the room was filthy or the massage therapist just didn't seem to care about me.
I'm a moderator for a very popular massage therapy group on Facebook and I've read dozens of comments over the year from massage therapists who claim that they give a massage the way they want someone to give them a massage. Now, how busy do you think they are?
When clients come in for a massage, they are paying for an experience. Whether we work on clients who expect pain relief or those who just want to relax, it doesn't matter, they want to feel like they are getting their needs met for the price they are paying.
Clients don't see our business they way you see it, they see it from a completely different viewpoint. Experiment with switching your perception of the session- imagine the client is not there in OUR world, but instead it is we who are in THEIR world. We have to change our thinking from creating a session the way we want it to be and instead, go for what the client wants it to be.
Viewpoint Of Your Client
Once we understand that concept and start looking at our practice from the viewpoint of our target client, then we can provide the client what they are looking for and they will naturally re-book.
Some things to pay special attention to with the next client:
- How do you greet them? Does it show by your expression and actions that you are happy to see them? If you are tired or upset, does it show on your face or in your attitude?
- Do you return phone calls and/or emails promptly? Or "at your convenience"
- Is the room and table ready to go when they arrive? Or do they have to wait while you straighten up
- Are you really listening to what they are asking for? Do you repeat what they say back to them for clarification?
- Is your room a comfortable temperature for the client? Or are you more concerned with your comfort?
- While giving the massage, do you spend the entire time thinking about what you did last weekend or things on your do to list? Or are you paying attention to your work and the client's physiological responses to your work?
- Are you able to determine a client's need before it is expressed - for example, if you notice they are fidgeting a little, are you able to tell that it's because they aren't comfortable and something needs to change in the bolstering or head rest?
- Are you consistent in your interactions with each client?
- Do you determine what aspects of a massage the client likes and doesn't like?
- After the session do you sit down with the client and re-evaluate what you did? Do you ask if there was anything they would have preferred done differently or would have liked more of?
Whether we like it or not, most people consider massage therapists a dime a dozen. True success lies in our interaction and how we make our clients feel. This is what will help us to stand out in their minds as the best massage therapist.