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Wed 24 Oct 2007 09:35 AM

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Enjoying the sounds of silence

Disturbances that could occur during relaxing treatments can be avoided with the correct procedures.

How many times have you had to deal with customer complaints about disturbances during their spa visit? Customers that have booked in for a relaxing spa treatment desperately wanting to de-stress and unwind only to be distracted - and even irritated -by frustrating noises before, during and after their treatment. Personally, I have experienced silent irritants in spas so many times when I have been performing spa quality audits, and when I was visiting spas for personal relaxation, and it can really result in negative feelings towards the spa.

There are many sources of noise in a spa; a receptionist tapping the pen during check-in; an employee dragging their feet as they walk through the spa; a dripping tap or unsuitable music in the treatment room; a noisy air conditioning duct; a clock hand ticking with every second movement; water gushing from a tap half way through a treatment as the therapist washes her or his hands - just as you're about to fall asleep; the therapist snapping shut product tops during a facial, right next to your head; damp cotton pads being thrown into a bin lined with a plastic bin liner; fellow customers raising their voices as they have a conversation in the relaxation area; or the worst one, a customer who has sneaked their mobile phone into the spa and receives a call.

How can your customers relax with all of this going on? It makes it more difficult that's for sure!

Effect on customers

The effect on customers could include the following:

• It may increase stress levels;

• The customer may not achieve the result they expected;

• The customer may feel irritated;

• The silent irritants may ruin the whole experience for the customer;

• The customer may leave their treatment disappointed.

Effect on the spa

The effect on the spa could include the following:

• The customer may complain;

• It may affect the spa reputation as they talk about their experience with their friends;

• The customer may never return and go elsewhere;

• It will reduce the level of customer loyalty;

•The standards of the spa will be perceived by the customer as not high enough.

Why does it matter?

As a spa manager you may never get the opportunity to know exactly how disturbing these silent irritants are, as not all customers wish to complete a client's feedback form. They just decide not to return to the spa, and most often will tell friends and family of the experience, which may result in negative comments about your spa and possibly a loss of customers and revenue.

Alternatively you may have an irritated customer in front of you issuing a complaint which could have escalated from an irritant, to an annoyance, and even into a fury in some cases. Now the customer is very stressed and has become more demanding which is not the result they, or you, wished them to experience.

Prevention

The best way to prevent these silent irritants from happening is to invest in an standard operating policy and procedure (SOP) manual which includes detailed standards, procedures and training for each department in your spa including customer care, therapists standards, the customer journey, grooming and hygiene.

After implementing SOP's into your spa, perform regular refresher training sessions with your staff to ensure the standards are maintained, and arrange for quality audits - which may include mystery shoppers - to assess if the standards that were implemented are being followed.

Other tips to prevent silent irritations include:

• Perform role plays where the therapist is the customer and perform a treatment with lots of noises so the therapist experiences how irritating it is;

• Encourage your customers to complete customer feedback forms;

• Perform random client calls to inquire how their experience was on their last visit;

• Reward your staff on increased good comment and feedback from your customers;

• Ask your staff to inform you of any negative customer comments and constructive feedback during treatments;

• Listen to you staff for operational flow issues which may effect your customers;

Usually a spa manager is the last one to be informed about these irritants, but they are the ones who appreciate the feedback the most, as they can make changes, if necessary.

Ultimately it is the role of the spa manager to maintain the standards of the spa and staff, and ensure this is followed through to the customer.

If it is executed well, it will result in a smooth, efficient spa with happy and loyal customers.

Spa Resources International operations and quality assurance manager Jacqui McCumiskey performs standard operating procedures training and spa quality audits.

Tel:+971 4 336 7100

Fax:+971 4 336 7101

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