How to Handle a Hot-Headed Client at the Spa

If you own or manage a salon or spa then you know that some customers can be hard to handle.  Whether it's a scheduling mix-up, a miscommunication or a disappointing service, sometimes clients can be extremely unhappy and want you to know about it.  If you find yourself in a situation with an unhappy customer in your spa then remember my expert tips below.

Contain the conflict.  The first step to diffusing a negative customer experience situation in your spa is to contain it as swiftly as possible.  If you have a customer in your lobby or waiting area that is raising her voice, complaining about the business or just being a Negative Nancy, in general,  then be sure to escort her to a quiet and private area where she can speak without being in the spotlight.  The last thing you want is for other spa guests to hear another guest carry on in an unflattering way - this will surely raise concerns and create a tense atmosphere.  Therefore, give the angry client a space to vent with the least amount of onlookers and eavesdroppers possible so that the vibes at your spa will continue to be relaxing and tranquil. 

Listen and document.  Once you have your disgruntled guest in a private place, take some time to sit down with them face to face and truly listen to their concerns.  Be sure to ask them open ended questions and use a pen and paper to take notes.  When you take notes you are letting them know that their concerns are valid and that you want a written account of them so that you can authentically address the problem.  Maintain a lot of eye contact and nod periodically so that the client knows that you are truly hearing them.  Don't interrupt or try to interject with your thoughts or concerns; simply let them vent.  When the client stops speaking you can ask them, "is there anything else?" and this will let them know that you are open to listening to their concerns in a caring and patient way.  After the unhappy client is finished speaking, repeat back their concerns from your notes.  Make sure that you have all of the information documented accurately while you have the client in front of you. 

Speak with a smile and compassion.  Once the client is done speaking it's your time to shine.  Always try to smile periodically and speak with understanding and compassion.  Thank the client for sharing their feedback and concerns  with you.  Let them know that their opinions are valuable to you and that you will do everything possible to remedy the negative situation.  If appropriate, kindly remind them of certain spa policies, procedures and written consents that they may have signed - sometimes clients are upset about something because they have forgotten about it and just need a gentle reminder.  In other instances, a client may need to understand that a certain spa policy is "for their safety."  Use this phrase liberally as it conveys that your intentions are to keep their wellbeing as your primary concern. 

In the unfortunate case that you or your spa employee are at fault then certainly offer a sincere apology.  Sometimes an apology is all an angry person needs to hear to calm them down and diffuse their anger.  You can say, "I am very sorry that you had to experience this," or "I am so very sorry that you are dissatisfied with your service."  After you apologize, be sure to pause and give the client time to respond to the apology.  Don't continue to ramble on and on and say other things: just simply let your apology sink in with them.  As I mentioned before, sometimes you will turn the situation around right then and there and the client will smile and thank you for the apology. 

If the client is still angry or does not accept your apology then let them know that you are willing to take a different course of action.  It is ideal to offer a remedy immediately.  However, remember  you are running a business and have other customers and obligations to attend to, so you may be able to take action on-the-spot or you may not.  If time or resources are limited, do not feel like you must take action at that exact moment.  Assure the client that you will do everything in your power to fix the situation but you may need to see them or call them later.  The best way to do this is to let the client know that you have heard their concerns, you want to make it right, but that you have to consult with other members of your team before you can give them a final answer.  Let them know when you will be following up  and keep your promise. 

Make sure clients feel valued.  Even if you know that an angry client isn't a good fit for your spa or salon make sure that they feel welcome and valued.  A negative customer service situation can go from bad to worse if you stoop down to their level and act dismissively or arrogantly.  Always come out smelling like a rose and take the high road.  Keep in mind, some people are just looking to vent their frustrations.  Sometimes customers are having a horrible day or just received devastating news.  We don't always know why they act the way they do.  Moreover, some negative clients seem to like to test our limits and enjoy challenging our boundaries - it's like they get a kick out of it.  If you feel like someone is being unreasonably upset then be sure to respectably inform them that they are under no obligation to have treatments at your spa or salon.  In other words, empower them with a choice to not be treated or to be treated elsewhere.  Let them know that they have options and if they feel disappointed with your facility that perhaps another facility will be a better fit for them.  Assure them that their happiness and satisfaction is important to you and that you will support them if they decide to stay at your facility or go elsewhere. 

Customer service is a daily practice that takes patience and grace.  Make sure that all employees are on the same page and understand these important steps.  We can never fully escape negative customer service experiences - they are par for the course.  However, we must respond as well in the good times as we do in the bad.  Make it your company policy to deal with hot-headed clients privately and listen attentively as you take notes.  Speak with compassion and always convey their value.  If you can follow these expert tips when you encounter angry spa guests you will keep the peace and upbeat vibes at your spa or salon for years to come.