THE MOST IMPORTANT SKILL YOU CAN HAVE IN BUSINESS
There is a particular skill-set that is crucial to your business and yet is often overlooked as if it were some obvious thing that no one ever has to think of; but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. No matter the size of your business, whether you’re a one-person show or have a huge facility with numerous employees or renters, this skill will either lead to your success or the lack of it will lead to your demise.
What is it?
Before you click away and roll your eyes, thinking “Duh, lady! I’m great at that.” take just a couple minutes and read this. There are numerous businesses and countless people who think they’ve got the whole customer service thing down pat, but they couldn’t be more wrong.
You might have a lot of competition in your area and you have to stand out. That’s not just about different modalities or amenities, but about the overall experience; and a large part of that is the customer service experience. Some businesses get this idea of customer service like all you need to do is the bare minimum to keep customers somewhat happy. Be reasonably nice and personable and you’re covered, right? But it’s not about just meeting the basic expectations. It’s about going above and beyond. It’s about making the experience one that makes them say “WOW!”.
I was talking with a therapist the other day and she was telling me all about this incredible massage she had. She’s been trying to find a great therapist to go to for a while, and was never able to find ‘the one’. So as she was relating the story to me about this amazing therapist and how incredible her entire experience was, the one thing she kept referencing over and over again, was how incredibly she was treated. It wasn’t just the hands-on skill of the therapist, but so much more than that. He listened and addressed every pain complaint. He was attentive and laser focused on her needs. She never felt the slightest bit rushed. He was kind and clearly had an open heart for his clients. She was willing to pay top dollar to this therapist because not only was the massage fantastic, but so was the service he provided through every minute of her time there.
You can give an amazing massage, but if your customer service skills are horrible, you won’t be in business very long. Whereas, if you have not just good, but incredible customer service skills AND give an amazing massage…you’re golden! Attracting new clients is expensive, time consuming, and can’t be a constant battle if you really want to succeed. You have to build loyalty. You can’t do that if your customer service is bad. But don’t forget potential clients. If you go above and beyond for someone who hasn’t even spent money with you yet, you’ve solidified that you care and they can only expect more of that once they do pay.
The knowledge and skills that you have are the reason your clients come to you, but the reason they come back is how you treat them.
So here’s the 7 primary qualities of great customer service:
You have to keep an open line of communication with your clients. Speaking openly with them about what you do and any upcoming changes, as well as listening to what they say, will guarantee they feel respected and taken care of.
Having the ability to empathize with your client and see things from their point of view is crucial. Not only as a massage therapist, when it comes to any physical pain they may present with, but also as a business owner when it comes to any complaints or issues.
People have questions and concerns. How you respond is paramount in determining the kind of treatment they can expect to receive as a client. So if you rush them or act like their questions and concerns aren’t important or worthy of your time, you’ve lost them. For example, when a potential client calls and you have a thousand things on your to-do list, those few minutes that you spend on the phone are not going to destroy your entire day. So don’t try to rush them off the phone. Instead, take your time and be patient with them. If you have someone else waiting, just explain that you’re in the middle of taking care of another client, get their name and number, and tell them you’ll call back in just a few minutes as soon as you finish up.
You will have complaints. You will have people who are not happy with some aspect of your business or their treatment; but immediately jumping to the defense is not going to serve you or the client. While I will never agree with the statement “the customer is always right”, sometimes you have to take a step back and at least consider that they may be. If you can’t take criticism and use it to grow, or handle some brash review in a professional manner, you may want to get some training in customer relations and conflict resolution.
Your clients are coming to you because they respect your knowledge and skills. If you’re not exuding confidence, no one is going to buy into you. You know your stuff. You know you know your stuff. So let your clients know you know your stuff! Just don’t be arrogant about it.
Sometimes changes need to be made; schedules get crazy, personal issues come up, and life in general can throw some curve balls. This goes for you as well as for your clients. Inconveniences are bound to happen…that’s just business…and life. You’ve got to be flexible and accommodating. This doesn’t mean letting your boundaries slip, but part of that empathy thing is understanding the need to shift here and there when needed.
When all the others are in place, this is what pushes it over the edge. Those are all important properties of customer service, but they can’t be a one-time thing. Consistency in your delivery of great customer service is paramount. All day, every day!
Great customer service isn’t about the customer always being right, or not having boundaries. It’s about treating every client like a you would treat a friend or family member. This doesn’t mean that you need to be a pushover or let clients rule everything. Remember, you can’t please everybody so don’t try. But taking even small steps to improve your customer service goes a very long way. When they walk in the door, greet them like they’re family and offer them water, tea, or coffee. Schedule a few extra minutes between clients so you have time to sit down and chat about how they’re doing, how the massage is helping, or what changes you may make in their treatment plan or home-care. Send a little thank you gift home with them on random occasions to show your gratitude. Little touches go a very long way in making your clients feel appreciated, respected, and taken care of.
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