What do Salon Spa Clients REALLY want?

Do you know what your clients REALLY think?
Special guest author Eileen Fox from Spawish

Many spas across the country offer wonderful treatments in luxurious surroundings that score high grades from clients. But there is one area where even the top spas occasionally falter: customer service. Even a perfect massage or facial can be ruined if the guest’s experience at the front desk is unpleasant or frustrating.

The trouble is, guest satisfaction is particularly hard to measure in spas because many clients feel uncomfortable complaining about the way they’re being treated while they are still on site. So unless the manager or owner is constantly behind the desk, they may fail to observe interactions between staff and clientele that can ultimately affect the spa’s bottom line.

One way to address this problem is through a secret shopper program, a tool long used by retailers to measure quality of service. A good shopper program will send experienced spa-goers to your door, who will provide you with detailed feedback about everything from your décor to your treatments and front desk operations. With this feedback, you can confidently introduce profitable changes to your business and coach your staff to strive for perfection.

Secret shopping turned out to be the answer to a tricky problem confronting SpaWish, a national gift certificate company. Because the recipients of SpaWish gift certificates could choose from over 1500 spas to visit with their certificates, they frequently requested guidance in making their decisions. SpaWish needed a way to objectively evaluate the spas. The answer was to offer the spas access to a secret shopper program. The shoppers would not only give the spa owners detailed feedback about their operations, but also award them a “Gold Symbol of Excellence” if the spa earned a passing grade. These spas would be listed at the top of the SpaWish online directory, with a gold background and symbol indicating their gold status. This would serve as a message to the SpaWish customer that these are high-quality spas they will enjoy visiting.

The program has been in operation for several years, and it has proven to be a reliable tool, not only for guiding SpaWish customers but also for providing the spas with valuable feedback. Below is a sampling of what the shoppers are looking for:

• Floors, counters, linens, towels & furniture are clean & tidy and in good repair.
• Spa is well designed with high quality materials & makes good use of space.
• Spa exudes a feeling of tranquility and comfort.

• The process of making my reservation was…
• The instruction I received of where to sit, what to expect, where to go was…
• The front desk and general staff were courteous, knowledgeable and made me feel welcomed…

• The service took place in a totally private treatment room…
• The way my service technician greeted me, spoke to me, and generally treated me was…
• The environment in the treatment room is an important aspect of the massage or facial experience. Overall the room was…
• Upon completion of my treatment (massage or facial) I felt that the quality of the treatment itself was…

• Based on my experience, customers visiting this spa can expect their experience to be…
Some sample comments are:
• Did anything disappoint you or make you angry?
• Did anything stand out as impressing you?

On the SpaWish survey, each of these questions is weighted, resulting in a numerical grade at the end of the form. If the grade is 80 or above, the spa wins a gold symbol and receives a certificate that it can prominently display and incorporate into marketing material. But more importantly, spa owners use the Gold Symbol of Excellence program to learn what makes their customers happy, and what might turn them away — information that’s worth its weight in gold.