22 Sep 2021 World leisure: news, training & property
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Spa Business
2018 issue 1

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Leisure Management - Customer retention


Customer retention

When gaining new customers costs more than retaining them, client retention – and by extension, customer loyalty – becomes a business no-brainer. Kate Parker explores how software companies are helping spa operators engage with their repeat customers

Kate Parker
Understanding your clients and staying in touch helps improve customer loyalty
Software can help track birthdays, appointments and past treatments
Corey Kossack, CEO of Frederick, which helped Meghan Gilboa, right, of Facialworks increase revenue
Swinton Park Spa has seen treatment and package revenue increase
With the rise of web and mobile use, loyalty can be developed outside the spa
A custom app can be valuable for customer retention as an instant touch-point shutterstock

We all like to feel needed, and this is no less true of spa customers – make them feel wanted and well-tended and you’ll be rewarded with the repeat business and the increase to your profits that they bring. Regular customers are key to a successful spa business, with customer loyalty a powerful driving force behind a spa’s bottom line. These days, there are ever-more creative ways to develop and maintain a strong and enduring relationship. From personalised messages to points systems, targeted marketing to online loyalty programs, spa software companies are helping their clients maximise on the love and loyalty of the repeat customer.

Know your customer
But before a spa operator can begin to reap the benefits of loyalty, they must thoroughly get to know their customers. Understanding regular clients, providing them with great service and staying in touch all help improve customer loyalty. As Amanda Wisell, marketing manager at spa technology company SpaSoft, advises: “Learn your customers’ names and use them. Note their preferences in reservations and deliver them without asking. Provide genuine and friendly service; remember your repeat guests and welcome them back to your spa. Your spa software can help you deliver this as a personalised experience.”

Similarly, Roger Sholanki, CEO of Book4Time, explains how the software company’s spa management platform drills down to the detail of spa customers’ lives, boosting customer retention in the process: “Book4Time’s CRM functionality is a powerhouse of valuable information securely storing detailed information – anything from their birthdays, appointments, and treatments or classes customers may have had, through to their retail purchase history and more.”

The ability to track this type of information is essential in building up customers, and gives spa operators the data they need to personalise their contact with regular clients through a number of touchpoints. Smart marketing platform Frederick, owned by Booker, helps businesses connect with their customers through targeted email and text messaging. “Frederick scans the data in a business management system and delivers targeted messages to people who are most likely to respond based on past services and purchases,” says CEO Corey Kossack. “Frederick helps businesses efficiently send the right messages and promotions at the right time, to the right customers.”

For example, Frederick can send a campaign in an email or text that offers a prompt to book an open appointment for a service a customer has enjoyed in the past, a reminder to book a return appointment when it’s time for another service, a promotion tailored to the services they enjoy or an offer to take an open appointment during a slow day. “Because Frederick’s reminders and promotions are customised to that person, they’re more likely to respond,” adds Kossack.

Meghan Gilboa, founder of California-based facial spa company Facialworks, has seen an increase in revenue since using Frederick’s automated messages to customers. “Frederick is so helpful for tracking clients who want to come back, but have busy schedules and just forget to save time to take care of themselves,” explains Gilboa. “Automated and personalised communication allows clients to have a physical reminder to come in, along with a simple way to make an appointment quickly. Frederick has been great for the business, and we typically see clients rebooking when we send out a special boost.”

Getting personal
Building customer loyalty into a spa’s modus operandi delivers a high return on the time, effort and money invested in providing customer service. Loyal customers tend to buy more, more regularly, and the cost of selling to them is low – with the added bonus that they’ll recommend your business to their friends.

So it pays to be personal, and to know your clients and stay with them on every step of their customer journey. Premier Software’s business management system, Core, is designed to help spas attract and maintain customers. Core collects customer information from individual client cards, from treatment preferences through to visit frequency and retail spend.

However, as Leonie Wileman, the company’s COO, explains: “It’s how this data interacts with other functions within the software which really gives spa managers the edge when it comes to customer retention. Through personalising the overall experience, Premier Software’s Core enables spas to develop bespoke offers and promotions tailored to select audiences. The automated marketing function is easy to set up and will run promotions on a regular basis, with minimal input.”

By keeping a spa front-of-mind through managed campaigns in this way, customers feel informed and valued, which is essential in retaining interest and loyalty. “The return of investment is almost immediate,” Wileman adds. “We’ve recently been working with a client who wanted to test how quickly customers would respond to incentives and promotions. For just a £20 investment in a targeted SMS automated marketing campaign, it delivered a 7,000 per cent return, which is phenomenal.”

This is echoed by Premier Software customer Gillian McGraffin, spa manager at Swinton Park Spa, UK: “Since using Core, we’ve seen customer retention levels improve, as we’re able to use the data collected to target specific audiences. By being able to search and select set profiles, we can see which treatments a set group of clients likes, and offer to re-book at the time they leave the spa or as a follow-up campaign based on their preferences. Swinton Park Spa only opened this year, but monthly treatment and package revenue is already increasing.”

Personalisation goes a long way to delivering the ultimate level of guest service and, in keeping the whole customer journey in mind, SpaSoft’s Wisell believes there’s great value in the simple act of thanking a customer: “Be sure to follow up on every appointment with a personalised thank you,” she suggests. “Your spa management system makes it easy to access the information, and you can use it to follow up with a note, either handwritten or an automatic email. Offer a discount on future services just for returning guests to help bring them back.”

Customer connection
When it comes to communicating with customers, today’s spa operators are spoilt for choice. “With the rise of web and mobile use, loyalty can be developed outside the spa as well now, using various touch-points and techniques,” says Frank Pitsikalis, founder and CEO of software company ResortSuite. “Offering promotions based on signing up for an online newsletter, or liking a Facebook fan page, can build brand loyalty and keep your customers coming back.”

However, spas should avoid randomly broadcasting across the whole spectrum and, instead, maintain the personal, focused approach, says Pitsikalis.

“The touch-points that a spa uses need to directly correlate with their target market,” he explains. “If your target market is baby boomers, you’re not likely going to want to put a lot of time, effort and money into engagement on Instagram, for example. The most effective touch-points are ones that are purposeful, targeted, and well thought-out.”

Software provider Mindbody offers its spa clients an app that is customisable to their own brand or business, as an instant touch-point. As the company’s senior vice president of sales, Stephanie Moran, comments: “If you become an app on someone’s phone, then you know you are a brand they wake up to and a brand they love. Having that custom app is pretty powerful for a business’s retention, because customers can then book appointments, book services, buy products all from the spa’s own branded mobile app, without having to go to your website, or having to leave the phone.”

Mindbody client Charmaine Line, who’s the founder of Seneb Therapies, says that this simplicity of booking has helped her retain customers. “One of the reasons that I chose Mindbody is because I could add members to the system – I give gym members a discount on spa treatments – and everyone that books online can create their own account on my Mindbody software. I’m able to get great feedback on the Mindbody App, which prevents the hassle of clients having to type in my website url to find the Mindbody software to make an appointment.”

Loyalty – it’s simple
It’s evident that, in today’s fast-moving world, customers are leading hectic lives where plans change quickly and appointments can easily be forgotten, so speed and convenience are essential in maintaining business efficiency and keeping customers coming back again and again. Here’s where a spa’s customer loyalty programme comes into its own.

Everyone loves a good offer and whether it’s discounts, coupons, points, punch cards or attractive packages, an efficient loyalty programme will keep on giving, on both sides of the equation. ResortSuite has a loyalty programme built in that allows a spa to assign points to treatments, services and even products in the spa, creating excitement for guests accumulating points each time they come in. “These points can be converted into gift cards at whatever point or monetary value the spa decides, and guests can reap the benefits of being loyal,” says Pitsikalis.

The Assistant Company (TAC) takes a slightly different approach in offering a variety of loyalty possibilities, including establishing spa memberships between a spa and its guests. Managing director Guenther Poellabauer explains: “If a customer is a member, she will definitely come back. TAC software is kind of a toolbox, so depending on a customer’s needs, different options are possible and the system is able to communicate across the different loyalty systems. These might be membership cards, special rewards or gift certificates, depending on the individual customer.”

Every spa is unique, and any customer loyalty and retention programme can be refined and perfected according to spending and attendance behaviour, but key to the success of any system is the relationship at the heart of the exchange. If a customer feels recognised and connected, they’ll be back!

Kate Parker is a regular contributor to Spa Business.

email: kateparker@spabusiness.com

Originally published in Spa Business 2018 issue 1

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