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The Five: 5 Ways to Positively Respond to An Unhappy Client

We hope you’re preparing for a booming and busy holiday spa season – building your base and boosting retail sales with purchases from happy (and loyal!) clients. Although an unhappy guest is always a possibility at some point in your career, we know it won’t be often! That said, here are 5 ways we recommend (and teach our students) to respond to a client when they feel things haven’t gone quite right.

1 Confirm your commitment to them. Address your guest immediately with a positive statement of your commitment to giving them the best experience possible. Phrases like: “We’re committed to providing the best service possible” or “I know we can work this out” set the tone that you will resolve the situation for them.

2. Avoid conflict & create a neutral space. Sometimes criticism or complaints feel personal, but don’t take it that way. Arguing and getting defensive won’t help the situation and could make it worse. Invite your guest to move to a more neutral space (your office or anywhere away from the floor or customers waiting in line) to discuss the situation. People tend to drop their defenses and relax a bit more if you remove them from the immediate cause of the problem.

3. Listen attentively and keep your body language open. Make eye contact with your client, pay attention to what they are saying and be sympathetic. If you’re responding by phone or via email or text, make sure you acknowledge their complaint fully so they feel heard virtually. Create a warm, positive energy by relaxing your arms by your side (never crossed in front of you!) with a relaxed facial expression (wearing masks make this especially important). If possible, speak with them away from the separation of a reception desk or table.

4. Resolve the situation quickly – preferably within 24 hours or less. Waiting is not an option if you want to keep your client and prevent others from hearing about it. Stop the “guest spread” by resolving the matter quickly.

5. If necessary, apologize & ask for a solution. If the mistake was yours (or one of your team), take responsibility and let them know you can do better. Tell them you’re truly sorry it happened and ask them how you can make it right. The assumption is that unhappy clients always want a discount or a free service – but sometimes they just want to be acknowledged and be assured it won’t happen again. Offer them a free add-on for their next treatment, or a product sample kit.


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