Cultivating Trust in Client Relationships
By Kelli Lene on Apr 05, 2011
At the recent New York Spa Show we had a great dialogue during our class on "Designing Your Dream Practice." One of the main topics of interest was how to attract and cultivate your ideal clients. I always emphasize the first step is to discern who those clients are, and then learning all you can about them including their needs and goals. The second thing is to deliver exemplarily customer service and build trust. Simply put "Undersell and Over deliver."
Over the years I have discovered that trust is one of the most important things I can earn from anyone, especially my clients. This has led me to a simple but powerful business covenant. Whether I am rebooking a client, suggesting enhancements for their sessions or selling retail items, I constantly evaluate if this is in the in the best interest of the client or is it about building up my bottom line. As a result my client is never in doubt that my primary motive, always, is to be a part of their support system.
I'll be honest with you; sometimes cultivating long-term, loyal clients comes in direct conflict with income generating strategies. The trick is to be so focused on nurturing the client that they are front and center even while concentrating on the bigger vision of my overall business goals. For example, I am conservative about suggestions that lead to sales so when I do make a recommendation they can trust it as authentic and well considered.
I have also set my treatment model up so that my massage, esthetics and therapeutic spa flow seamlessly into each other. I charge the same for all of my services based on time and I have my back bar set up so that I can perform any service at a moment's notice. This way the decision of what we include in a client session is based purely on their needs and goals and not adding to the ticket total. If their skin is a little dryer then normal I've got a mask for that, if they are more anxious than usual, I have a complex for that as well. My clients are spoiled and can relax and not worry on any level about my motive or their budget.
I know we have all heard that communication is important but it is especially true in relationship marketing. My clients and I often engage in research about conditions or trends / wellness subjects that naturally lead to a better understanding for us both. This can eventually lead to referrals of professionals in other fields.
This system has developed into a great networking system that includes some of the best Yoga, Pilates, and medical professionals my area. We often send clients back and forth based on the client's needs, and sometimes they need to suspend their massage sessions for a while because they are working intently with another modality. I am supportive of these decisions because ultimately it is in their best interest. I know they will come back as soon as possible because they can trust me to be just that, supportive of their best interest. (Plus I spoil them to death with the spa treatments.) This is my business covenant at work - sacrificing immediate income for long term client loyalty.
Be well, Do good work, and Write Often.