Friday, September 7, 2007

First Steps to Drive Client Loyalty

"Is the temperature of the stones ok for you?"

I’ve spent the last several years studying customer behavior for my former employer. While the industry was different than massage, I firmly believe that the consumer dynamics for the massage industry are similar to many service oriented businesses. I have searched and been unable to find complete segmentation research on the “massage customer.” However, I have been able to track some good information indicating the key drivers for why clients decide to visit. #1 being, “I want to relax” and #2 being, “I want relief from pain”. To ensure client revisit behavior, it is important to clarify during the intake the reason for the visit and to ensure the session delivers to their expectations.

As with all service industries, communication is vital and even more so for the massage professional. I remember making the decision to try Thai Massage some time ago. I really did not know what to expect, but thought it would be similar to yoga. At one point during the session, the therapist had my right leg pushed up over my head and his hands were very high on the underside of my upper thigh. At that point I remember thinking…”I hope he doesn’t slip or we might have to call the plumber.” Probably not a thought you want in your client’s mind. If he had determined I was new to this type of massage and provided some gentle communication during the session, I probably could have relaxed and enjoyed the wonderful benefits Thai Massage provides. On a side note..I never returned to this therapist.

In summary, the first step in driving client loyalty is to ensure your sessions get off to a good start. You can do this by understanding expectations for the session and by providing gentle and thorough communication, especially for new clients.

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