New Year, New Client Journey
by Tanya Chernova

The business of spa is quickly changing. Consumers may be booking the same services, but the way they want to be handled is taking on a new level of sophistication, psychology and engagement.

Until now we have defined the client journey with the check-in as the start line and the paid bill as the end. With the evolution of digital technology, onine shopping, and increased expectations of client experience, it's time to reinvent our idea of what it takes to attract and grow a loyal clientele.

Here are seven realities to consdier as you kick off a new decade of success.

1. People buy what they believe in.

What is your beauty and wellness philosophy? Not the vision of who you are or the mission of what you do, but why you offer your unique service mix and believe in the products you carry. There are more choices today than in the history of beauty and wellness. Consumers suffer from choice fatigue and need a clear “why” when you present your offers. Ask your team to fill in the blanks. “At our spa we believe that ______ is the path to achieve lasting beauty and wellness and that’s why we chose ______ for our ________ treatments.” It’s overwhelming for consumers to be sold one product at a time. If you have several brands, work that into your story. Consumers need to buy into the overall philosophy and approach first; then your job of selling the step-by-step program or crafting your monthly newsletter topics is made easier.

2. People want more value from their visit.

Take a moment to make a list of your unique features and options that add value without increasing the bill. Consider they deliver value only to the extent that your clients take advantage of them. Create a professional 90-second welcome video tour that shares your philosophy and the ideal experience one can enjoy at your establishment. Add a welcome email in your client journey for new client bookings. If you offer water therapies, don’t bury their mention in your confirmation booking. Send an exciting pre-arrival email or text the day before titled “Pack your swimsuit”, so they have it top of mind. Don’t assume your clients have all the education. Even the most prominent spas can omit the details and expect their guests to be self-reliant along their client journey. If you have several options such as a steam room, sauna and more, create a suggested circuit with an order, time frame and activities. Help people intelligently self-serve. Offer both a long version and an express version, in case they only have ten minutes before their massage. Studies show the longer consumers spend in your establishment, the more value they receive for their investment.

3. People want to be engaged.

Today’s consumer is informed, inquisitive and they want to do what works. Find ways to involve your clients along the journey. Help them focus their attention and take a conscious approach to wellness. Make sure you check-in before they check-out. Prior to arrival, ask your clients to self-assess their skincare, hair care or body care routine and come in with questions. A great way to do this is in a pre-arrival email the day before their service. The subject line can be “3 Questions to Ask Your Esthetician”. Or “Does your skincare fit your lifestyle?” or “Score Your Skin Care 1-10,” and in the email’s body ask them to consider what they are using, how it feels and what to ask when they are in their treatment. Once inside your spa, have interactive and educational discovery displays in your retail area. Samples that say “Try Me” are great, but seasonal displays that help clients discover solutions for a season, a reason or a lifestyle are better.

4. People want to know what's coming.

In other words, people are cautious as well as curious. A fast-paced society can have high anxiety, especially in an unfamiliar space. If they are going to be waiting for any period of time, give your client an estimate for how long so they aren’t guessing. Feed into their curiosity to create excitement. Prior to installing your client on the bed, review the treatment steps they will experience and their “why.” Think of a fine dining experience where the server presents your dish and mentions each aspect to a point of salivation. This is the perfect time to use descriptive and emotional language to help them set an intention for their treatment. Create a little discovery tray of the products you will use and let your client smell the fragrance or feel the textures. The key here is to ensure you keep it brief, clear and deliver it in a captivating way. Once the basics are covered and you have answered any questions, your client can relax, release their resistance or self-conscious hesitation, and fully receive the treatment’s benefits. If your service ends with a line-up of recommended products, make sure you tell your guest to anticipate it at the start of the treatment to prevent any awkward surprises at check-out.

5. People want to be inspired.

You have felt the uplifting power of a meaningful quote, an affirmation or even a reminder to breathe. Managing your client’s mindset is the foundation for success. Consider that each step along your client journey serves an important purpose. It’s easy to lose ourselves in being a task focused service provider. Stay connected to your purpose. Keep expressing your philosophy in ways that help your clients learn good habits for self-care; mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Consider posting an inspiring quote or affirmation inside your locker doors, to welcome them in the treatment room or even on the bill. Practice client leadership. Make it your responsibility to get your clients into the right space to maximize the holistic benefits of their treatment. If you want to increase your sales, learn to inspire what I call “buying desire” so they want to buy what you have to sell. Think of offering unique snacks, drinks or even samples, and serve them in a way that inspires a smile or a “wow, I love that.” The little things you do to surprise, delight and teach along the way will set you apart and make your business memorable.

6. People want to know they are safe.

From judgment, risk, harsh chemicals, embarrassment, making poor choices and more. I recently went to a spa that had two vases on their changing room vanity. One labeled “clean hairbrushes” and the other “used hairbrushes.” That experience alone gave me reassurance. Practice client empathy and endeavor to understand things from their point of view. What might seem obvious to your team isn’t always the case for your clients and guests. Multiple laundry baskets in one changing room can be confusing if not labeled “robes” or “slippers.” Your guests don’t want to worry about making mistakes. Ask your team to consider what might cause confusion or concern, especially for new clients who are learning to trust you. Collect their ideas and implement the ones that offer clarity, comfort and reassurance along the client’s journey.

7. People want to know you care.

We are in the caring industry. The very nature of our business is to care. Whether it’s guiding a client to the treatment room, serving a beverage, handling a complaint or making a recommendation, we know the importance of building a culture of excellence and training our team to handle with care. But what about the digital relationship with your clients? With the introduction of technology, communicating with consistency, gathering feedback and measuring success has become much easier. My challenge to you is to add soft skills to your hard drive. Take the time to look through your automated emails and transform them from monologue to dialogue. Your spa is unique; ensure that you take the time to define your spa’s voice. This voice needs to sound like a caring human voice, even though it will be communicated through digital platforms. Like the people you hire, the voice of your spa shares your values, has a great personality and creates a genuine connection with your clients and prospective clients. Once personified, the voice of your spa will deliver your messages on social media, check-in with your clients between visits, announce promotions on written information in your spa and narrate your newsletters. As the future unfolds, our clients will expect more step-by-step digital guidance and, as an industry, we will rely on more complex digital automation. This is the perfect time to find your authentic voice and grow your caring brand identity.

As things change, we can rely on one constant: people buy from people they like and trust. And more so than ever, people want to feel good about every aspect of their interaction, every step of the way. My invitation to you is to reinvent your client journey from the full circle we know it to be and transform it into the infinite path of client loyalty.

Understanding how your clients think makes it easier to deliver exemplary service. More importantly, it empowers you to practice client leadership to help the people you serve explore and embrace their wellness and live their best lives.

TANYA CHERNOVA is a passionate voice of inspiration, consistently voted “Best Beauty & Wellness Business Educator” by spa professionals. Chernova is an expert in human behavior and a best-selling author on the neuroscience of success. Grow your sales at each stage of the client journey with this free download: