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Is Saving Face Losing Your Spa Customers?

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Managing across cultures can be daunting. For many expat spa managers working in Asia it can be particularly challenging.

Delivering constructive feedback to hyper-sensitive spa therapists can become a landmine with the additional complication of “saving face”. This social value dictates that humiliation or embarrassment to the recipient is avoided at all cost.

Most spa managers tend to be gentle people who would lose sleep over the thought of causing emotional injury to their staff. They really want to be liked.

And therapists, especially those more experienced, tend to personalize and internalize their method of customer interaction for delivering a treatment. So for management, evaluating the performance process while avoiding perceived criticism or loss of face can be darned near impossible.

The result is that employee assessments which measure every possible touch point, every chance for engagement or every opportunity for a product or treatment recommendation is avoided. Superb customer experience and the brand is sacrificed in an effort to not rock the boat.

But the reality is this; customers don’t care about the inner workings of the machine or your management issues.  The inability to set and adhere to clear standards and effectively address performance shortcomings will have an automatic and long term financial impact to your business. Today’s guests want more than a smile and cup of tea for their money. They have a wide range of spas to choose from and competition is great.

For instance, in Bangkok and surrounding Thai islands there are more than 1,033 spas. Bali has 494 and Malaysia 219.

And even though a globally recognized brand name may initially lure customers through the door, if your staff doesn’t perform well, they won’t return. In fact, with Five-star entities the level of disappointment may be greater and generate more backlash than with a lesser known company because the expectation of excellence is higher.

What customers value most is warm service by knowledgeable therapists who are able to address their particular needs, and provide results.

If your staff able to deliver the goods?

Coming into one of the heaviest travel seasons is a good time to have a third party entity perform an assessment of  service. The customer experience will be viewed from a fresh perspective and targeted improvements can be made.

It’s a good way to start.



Linda Harding-Bond
Linda Harding-Bond is shifting the paradigm on spa retail training. Her Express Online Retail Training Course is exactly what's needed for post-COVID-19 spa re-openings. Designed to bring your therapists' retail skills up to speed, it will quickly position retail as a robust alternate revenue stream. Linda has provided training for many world-class organizations including The Oberoi Group, St. Regis Hotel, Anantara Hotels & Resorts, Shangri-La Hotels, The Resort at Pedregal, GoldenEye Resort and Spa and Six Senses Resorts. She is author of "Listen, Engage, Sell!: The Foolproof Method for Increasing Spa Sales in 7 Days or Less" and "The New Esthy Handbook: an Essential Guide for Novice or Nervous Estheticians". Connect with her at Linda@Moontideconsulting.com .
Linda Harding-Bond

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