A Group Of Friends Who Like To SPA
Who doesn’t like to be pampered? And who doesn’t like to be healthy? That is why we like SPAs, it combines being pampered while promoting health. So we thought it would be fun to daydream about what we would do to create a great SPA customer experience if we were to have our own SPA based on our collective experiences. Just to be clear, none of us has ever managed a SPA. We are simply a group of friends who like the SPA experience and have an opinion about it.
As we sat down to talk about our dream SPA, Stephanie asked if anyone knows what the word SPA means or where it came from? There was an awkward and embarrassing moment of silence as it never occurred to any of us to wonder about that. Immediately, phones were pulled out, laptops opened and everyone started their online research on what SPA actually means. A few minutes later, we triumphantly declared that we now know the origin of SPA. According to our extensive ten-minute online research, we found out that It is commonly claimed, in a commercial context, that the word is an acronym of various Latin phrases, such as salus per aquam or sanitas per aquam, meaning “health through water”.
Some say that the Romans created these spa towns and elaborate baths because they believed in the healing power of water. But the term “spa” originated as an acronym from Emperor Nero’s affirmation of the Roman faith in the healing power of water. Emperor Nero said, “sanitas per aquas,” which means “health through waters” and thus gave us the acronym “spa.”
One other widely accepted theory that the word spa was derived from the name of the Belgian town Spa, where in the 14th century a curative, thermal spring was discovered. And according to this version of the story, the word came to mean a place where the water — usually from a mineral or hot spring — is believed to have special health-giving or medicinal properties.
Feeling fulfilled with a sense of accomplishment now that we have discovered the long lost secret of the origin of SPAs, we went back to our original mission of daydreaming about what we would do if we were to manage a SPA.
Our SPA Is Our Clinic For Body & Mind
It goes without saying that the first impression would make or break the deal for us as customers. That first impression could start online, on the SPA’s web site, or through an online AD, or at the reception of the SPA. If the SPA management don’t take themselves seriously then why should customers, right?
If we were to manage a SPA, we would treat the SPA as any serious health business like clinics, hospitals, and doctors. So my SPA web site would not only be well designed, organized, and zen-like, but would also properly talk about our services and relevant health information and stories, our facility, and most importantly our staff, those are our doctors and nurses.
We would also make sure that our different services are actually “different” and clearly highlight the difference and the benefits. We cannot tell you how many times we went to a SPA and tried different massages only to be puzzled by the difference between the different massages. Don’t get us started on facials, they all feel the same don’t they? Put some cream, wash it off, massage the face, more cream, a mask, and off you go.
It gets even funnier (or worse depending on where you stand) when the person rubbing your feet tells you that you should book a facial with her! It’s like your spine doctor asks you to book a skin treatment appointment with him. Mmm no thanks.
So we would treat our SPA like a health clinic, where we would have our massage experts and our body treatment experts. We don’t think those should mix. So, we would highlight our staff to show that we are proud of our team and to create that sense of confidence with our customers. When we are looking for doctors we like to read about them, their experience, so when we go to a clinic or a hospital, we know who to ask for. SPAs should be no different.
As a customer I would love to choose the staff who will be taking care of me and to learn about them so, you know, I don’t have some expectations only to discover something a bit different.
This is the age of information and SPAs should have a wealth of health information that they can share with customers. So we would have articles and blogs from our staff and others about relevant health issues and case studies. So our SPA would be a place to heal the body and educate the mind. Don’t you ever wonder if the person taking care of you is certified or not? There is a reason why all doctors have their degrees hanging on the wall behind them, no?
If You Ask Me What I Want, Please Give Me What I Want
If we were SPA managers, our goal would be to make every customer a brand ambassador. Sure we might not be able to turn all our customers into brand ambassadors but at least that is our goal.
To turn our customers into ambassadors, we need to get to know them from the minute they book their first session. Now it is great that SPAs try to collect information from you to “supposedly” tailor their treatment specifically for you (more on that later), but we really need to jump on the 21st century bandwagon (or rocket) here. Unless your SPA is in a retirement home for old people, then you might want to get rid of that paper registration form and that pen who doesn’t work most of the time. Your customers want to feel like they come to the SPA of today and tomorrow, not to the Roman baths (unless of course that is the intention).
So if we were SPA managers, we would get rid of papers (and pens), and have some bonsai trees at the SPA instead. We would give the customers tablets when they walk in, or even better, they can fill that out online at the comfort of their home and at their own pace or maybe when they call to book an appointment we would send them a nice welcome email with a link for them to create their profile so they can save time when they come to the SPA.
How many times did you go to a SPA, filled out a three-page form and took the time to describe where you have muscle or back problems, your skin type, and your allergies only to walk into the room and the first question that the masseuse asks is “so are there any areas you would like to focus on?” What do they do with all those forms?
Now back to the idea of collecting information in order to tailor the experience to the customer’s specific needs, a lot of SPAs collect some health information, which they should, but then that information disappears into the universe never to be used by the staff.
Sara remembers this great masseuse who kept some sort of a diary where she would log every session she had with her. At the beginning of every session, the masseuse would pull out her notebook, and go over what she did the last session with Sara, any comments she had or any concerns, and then asks if they should continue the same way or if Sara would like to change anything.
That was wonderful because she really collected, listened to and acted upon Sara’s feedback (notice that Sara still remembers her as a great masseuse, she turned Sara into an ambassador).
So if we were SPA managers, we would give each staff member a tablet, welcome to the 21st century, on which they can have access to the customer’s details so when they welcome him/her to the room they can talk about their concerns what they would like to do and most importantly take notes that do not disappear into the universe never to be seen again.
It is like going to a hospital to see your regular doctor but it happened that he is not available, the new doctor is not going to ask you to go back and do all the tests again and ask you all the same questions all over again (well some of them do), but he would simply look at your history and your previous doctor’s notes and go from there.
The SPA is no different. So the magic word here is (drums rolling), consistency. If your staff change that does not mean I have to restart all over again, I thought we have a relationship (sad). The rule of thumb is really simple, If you collect data, use it, and if you don’t want to use it then don’t collect it to begin with.
Another great masseuse, that Maya knew, used to allow the customers to set their own ambiance to a certain extent. Customers could bring their own music, oil, and candles if they wanted to. After all, it is their time so why not have some say on how to spend it.
So if we were SPA managers, we would allow our customers to be participants in setting up the ambiance for their sessions. We would allow them to keep their own candles and whatever items (music) they like to have at the SPA so next time they come, everything would be ready the way they want it.
Think about it, how wonderful would you feel if you were treated truly like a VIP the minute you walked in to the SPA with someone welcoming you and telling you that your room is ready just the way you like it and give you the service you asked for as if they have known you for years?
We are going to use nerdy words here, customer centricity. We hear it all around us (mainly from nerds) and how businesses should make customers at the center of their business and all that. Well the nerds do have a point, if you put the customer at the center of your business then they would become your brand ambassadors so maybe instead of customer centricity we would go with the term customers as ambassadors.
Don’t Love Me And Leave Me
Imagine having a great SPA session and then having to rush out the minute your session ends. We understand if you are in a hurry to get to a meeting (but we don’t really support it) but we really like to slowly transition from the calming and relaxing session back into the real world. It is like being dumped at the end of a great date, at least that is how Mary feels and she talks from experience.
That makes the SPA lounge area like a portal between two universes, yes that’s too nerdy we know, where you sit down for a bit to prepare your body and mind for the journey back. We have seen many great lounge areas with great seating areas, atmosphere, and music. We have also had some really great beverages and snacks while resting at the lounge, we believe ginger tea is the best.
We debated whether we should have popular magazines in the lounge area for people to read or not have any reading material to just allow the customers’ minds to wonder on their own and enjoy the quiet time. We finally decided that it would be better not to have any reading material but have more plants and calming trees (m
aybe a small Japanese garden) to compensate for the paper magazines (yes we love nature).
So if we were SPA managers, we would create a very quiet and relaxing area for customers to relax after their session and take their time to transition back into their hectic life (let’s face it, if like wasn’t hectic we would not go to SPAs).
Out Of Site, Out Of Mind
Unfortunately many SPAs end their relationship with the customers the minute they walk out the door. How can you turn someone into an ambassador if you only talk to them when they come to you?
So if we were SPA managers, we would continue the relationship with the customer after they leave. We would send them a personal thank you email and ask them about their experience ( we would make sure that feedback does not go into oblivion and that we use it the next time they come as it would be visible to our staff).
We would send them a follow up emails after a while with some health tips relevant to them. Then after a while we would remind them that it is time to rejuvenate and give them an easy way to book their next appointment with the same staff or let them choose a different one.
What SPA managers don’t realize is that customers actually do like to be reminded that it is time for another relaxing and rejuvenating session or maybe it is time to buy another beauty product. However, what usually happens is that customers don’t get anything or they get some annoying generic message. There are two keywords here, “Timing” and “Message”.
As the wise people always say, timing is everything so if we were SPA managers we would make sure our customers receive timely communication from us and with the right, relevant, and personalized message. By the way, when we say personalized, we don’t mean having my name at the start of the message (any 10-year-old can do that). Personalized message means personalized content, like “Hey Sara, it has been a month since you had your deep tissue massage. We just wanted to check if you would like to have another rejuvenating session. Anna would be happy to welcome you again. Click here to book”.
We would also celebrate with our customers their special moments and shower them with attention and small gifts like we would make a big deal if they just turned 30 or 40 , 50 and give them something special or If they are pregnant, if it is their anniversary as a customer. We would have surprise gifts waiting for them when they come the next time.
We are going to go back to that nerdy term again, customer centricity (sorry), but everyone talks about how to keep your brand on your customers’ minds but no one talks about keeping the customer on your brand’s mind. If you keep them on your mind as a SPA manager and regularly and authentically talk to them (not just sending them offers) then you can be sure that your brand will be on their mind.
If I Was A SPA Manager
Let’s face it, people go to SPAs to be pampered, relax, and feel refreshed. So they go for the experience and that experience start way before they step into the SPA and should not end when the leave. Unfortunately we have seen a lot of SPA owners spend a lot of money on the physical place only to ignore their staff and customers.
With today’s technology it is really very easy to build strong customer experiences and turn customers into ambassadors. By implementing small things with the right tools, we can properly welcome the customers before they even walk into the SPA, make them feel recognized and special the minute they enter the SPA and feel appreciated long after they leave the SPA.
Last Words Of Wisdom
Setting up a nice and attractive SPA is only one step towards a successful business. Making your staff and customers part of that business is what truly make it successful.
It is not customer centricity, it is customer mindfulness (yes we like that better). Be mindful of your customers and they will be mindful of your brand.