The New Customer Service
This article, by Louis Silberman, CEO of National Laser Institute and Author of "Make It Happen Online" is a world class marketer. His advice for working in "the new normal" is both practical and timely. I notice that anywhere I've visited recently for health & beauty related services where they fully embrace what's happening now instead of trying to hold on to what used to be - makes me a much more satisfied and happy client.
If these aren’t “changing times,” then I don’t know what is! Since I opened my first medical spa 16 years ago, and soon after, a medical spa training school, I’ve had my share of ups and downs. We’ve all had our ups and downs, but no one was prepared for what we’re going through with the global pandemic.
So, where does that leave us today? Basically, we have two choices:
Throw our hands in the air, think nostalgically about “what used to be,” fret over how difficult it will be to deliver quality hands-on esthetic services from here-on-out and consequently, watch sales rapidly decline; OR
Be willing to start over again, implementing the “new normal” into your business plan, and refusing to let “what was” take precedence over “what is.” If you’re reading this article, I’m betting you’re strong and determined enough to roll with the second choice.
The rules about close contact are changing rapidly (mask/no mask, gloves/no gloves, six feet social distancing but with a mask is okay/not okay), but my guess is, when things improve and CDC guidelines relax a bit, one area that business owners and service providers will need to focus on is confidence. At a heightened level, you will need to instill in your customers a sense of complete confidence that you are doing everything you can to keep them safe. It seems a tall order that you, in addition to delivering the highest quality of service, are now also 100% responsible for protecting your clients’ health, along with your own. But that is where we are, and I know you can deliver.
Steps Toward the Future
So, here’s the tricky part: depending on where you live, the guidelines will be different. Some cities currently require masks, others don’t. There are suggestions for using hand sanitizer but obviously, it isn’t required. Frequent and thorough hand washing is encouraged but again, not mandated. What is an individual practitioner to do?
I say, do it all and then some. Again, it’s about instilling confidence in your customer that you know what you’re doing to keep them safe and are willing to take extra steps, even if it’s “over the top” to do so.
I’m betting, based on your training, that you’ve always been meticulous regarding keeping your work space clean and sanitized; still, it’s time to think of a new way of doing things. And, you’re going to have to plan accordingly. In addition to wearing gloves and masks, add in about 15 minutes between clients to thoroughly sanitize everything you and your client come into contact with during a typical treatment session. Install a hand sanitizer station at every door in your treatment area. Remind the client that you change linens between every treatment session and use disinfectants to regularly treat any other surfaces involved. All of these things might seem like common sense by now, but verbally communicating your efforts to clients is the key to keeping them comfortable when booking with you.
Outside the Treatment Room
There are plenty of other ways you can build customers’ confidence outside the treatment room. Use this opportunity to change up your website content; let customers and prospective clients know that you are implementing the absolute safest practices in your work environment. Until they can see you in-person, offer them virtual consultations via FaceTime, Skype, or whatever video platform with which you feel comfortable and is easily accessible to your clients. Send out a weekly email, simply to let clients know what you’re up to and how they can access and pre-book with you.
Use this time to connect with them via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Remember the old adage, “out of sight, out of mind.” Don’t be out of sight with your clients! Even if you’re sending them tips on home facials during this waiting period, or great recipes you’ve tried out, or how your maintaining your sanity during isolation, or cute pics of you and your dog, you’re reminding them that you’re still around and, even more, that you’ll be there for them when the time is right.
Change Your Perspective
The “new normal” may include things like no waiting room time, so clients will wait for you in their cars or outside or only one client allowed in the waiting room. It may also include no direct contact with your front desk staff, so clients will pay online ahead of time and pre-select any products they wish to buy, which will be waiting for them.
All of these things are opportunities for you to shine in the customer service department. Purchase attractive gift bags for their pre-selected product purchase, and make them look like a gift they can’t wait to open. Include a wrapped cookie with your business card attached, or a flower in a tiny bud vase. Find or create a service that can bring clients drinks and a snack while they’re waiting for you in their cars. Think outside the box!
When it comes to maintaining and growing a business, there is no playbook on how to survive a worldwide pandemic. But, continuing to go above and beyond in everything you do goes a long way in reinforcing their decision to choose you over the competition in the first place. Stay strong and stay safe.
Top 3 Tips for The New Customer Service:
It may seem like you’re repeating yourself over and over regarding sanitation, but that’s okay. When it comes to reminding clients that you’re taking necessary steps to keep them safe, it’s never “too much.”
Have extra protective materials (gloves, masks, sanitizers) on hand for any client who shows up without them.
Ask for feedback: does your client feel safe and protected with the measures you’re taking? Is there anything you could do that would make them feel safer?