Friday, December 14, 2007

Nightmare clients

Most days I love owning a spa. I am in the business of taking care of people's health, giving them a little dose of sanity, and offering them a respite, however brief, from the travails of the outside world. And most of our clients are truly appreciative and wonderful people. I love getting emails like this one:

I have been meaning to thank you and your staff for the spa treatments I scheduled the first week of October. We had a wonderful time and the staff was amazing. Truly the best spa, in fact I have mentioned to the staff at the spa I go to here in Santa Rosa to come into your spa if they are ever in town.? I will be reserving the first Thursday in October 2008 (10/2/08) for the 6 of us again so be sure to save a spot for us a 3:30 pm.? Thanks again for a perfect afternoon!? Happy Holidays.

P.S. Monica is the person I had and she was beyond words!"

However, every once in a while, the flip side rears its ugly head. I never thought I'd actually want to fire a client, but I guess I was wrong. In the 4 years I've owned Pavia, I have had to fire two of them. Now let me say first of all that I am a people pleaser. I hate not being liked; I don't care who you are, if you don't like me, it bothers me. That is why I usually go so far out of my way to make things right for clients, even if I don't truly believe we did anything wrong. If clients come on the wrong day, I always say it is our fault - we must have gotten the date wrong. If clients are booked a different service than they expected, I always own up to it and take responsibility - we must have misunderstood them. If clients are unhappy, I always assume it was our problem, not theirs. I guess that is why people try to take advantage of me, and there are some clients who just cannot be pleased, who cross the line and behave OUTRAGEOUSLY.

Case #1: Obviously I'm not going to name names. But this client had a pretty bad waxing experience with us, and I definitely wanted to regain her goodwill. I refunded her all of the money she paid for the services that went wrong, plus I gave her a complimentary makeup lesson and also a complimentary bottle of makeup so that she could cover it up. We then decided that perhaps she wouldn't be the best candidate for waxing, given her sensitivity to wax. However, she kept wanting to come to the spa for waxing, but didn't want to pay for any of the services. I understood that she needed to pinch pennies a bit given that she was a student, so I just agreed to allow her to do "training" services. Meaning that any new estheticians I hired who needed "training" in waxing could use her as a "model." The third time she comes for these free waxing services (a Brazilian bikini wax), she talks the esthetician into also doing her underarm and other free waxing services. She flails around on the table and somehow gets wax on the sleeve of her sweatshirt. We explain to her that she just needs to get it dry cleaned, and wrote down all the ingredients in the wax so the cleaner could take it out.

Well, believe it or not, the next day, she comes to the spa and says, "I feel that you should pay for my dry cleaning - $16 - even though it was a free service that I received. It was technically your fault that I got wax on my sleeve." I was so livid, I can't even tell you. People like this are just ungrateful, unappreciative, and completely draining. Who wants to be around someone like that? Well, I instructed my spa coordinator to give her the $16 (I know, I know, call me a softie), but I asked her not to come back to our spa anymore. She said she wanted to come back and talk to me about it in person, but she never did show her face (I wouldn't either, I would be too ashamed of my egregious behavior). One funny update on this situation: she since got married and tried to book an appointment at the spa under her married name, thinking we would not notice. TOO HILARIOUS.

Case #2: This one just happened tonight. A client came to us a few months ago for a facial (during our Off-Peak) time, and she had wanted a consultation and one of our Ingestible facials. She was expecting a 10-minute consultation plus an 80-minute facial. We did NOT properly communicate this to our esthetician, who incorporated the 10-minute consultation INTO the 80-minute facial, leaving just 70 minutes of "touch" time. So, she complained. She wanted to pay the off-peak price for a one-hour facial - and I, completely forgetting it was an off-peak day, somehow botched it and asked her to pay the peak price for a one-hour facial. In any case, totally OUR FAULT. I owned up to it and allowed her to pay the off-peak price on a one-hour facial, and then I also gave her a spa credit for another 80-minute facial (at no charge). I really wanted to regain her confidence and goodwill.

Well, she comes tonight for her FREE 80-minute facial, and I leave instructions for the staff to MAKE SURE she gets her entire 80 minutes and to make sure she has a good experience. Did it go well? Apparently not. I got an email from her afterwards complaining that she was shortchanged on the time AGAIN. She said that instead of 80 minutes, she got only 65 minutes - she feels that there is something wrong since we advertise 80 minutes. And, she says she is not sure she wants to come back for another facial ever again (which cracks me up, because this one was on us).

Naturally, I get frustrated, so I call up the staff and ask them WHAT THE HECK. The staff tell me that the client arrived 12 minutes late and didn't get on the table until 15 minutes after her service was supposed to have started! My esthetician said she even gave her 75 minutes, even though she was more than 5 minutes late, and this lady was STILL COMPLAINING. After I heard that, I just couldn't believe it. Some people have a LOT of nerve. I mean, it was a COMPLIMENTARY facial - instead of being grateful and appreciative, she has to complain about being shortchanged when she didn't even give us the courtesy of arriving on time? Give me a BREAK.

How can you reasonably expect to receive the full service if you don't even come when you're supposed to? You book the appointment, and you decide to spend part of it on the highway, or in a meeting, or just plain somewhere ELSE other than at the spa, and instead of owning up to it and taking responsibility for your actions, you complain to us that we shortchanged you again? And it was FREE in the first place? OMG OMG OMG. Some people are just....unbelievable! I sent her a nice, polite email and just explained that we were all ready to give her the full 80-minutes, but were unable to because she came late. I also said that I would understand if she never came back to us...that while I would hate to lose her business, I just wanted her to be happy. TRANSLATION: YOU'RE FIRED AS A CUSTOMER. By all means, take yourself elsewhere so some other spa can have the headache of a chronically unhappy and complaining customer.

What I really wanted to say to her was what my high school gym teacher, Mr. Guadagnino, used to say to us all the time: "OWN YOUR OWN ACTIONS AND SET YOURSELF FREE." Take responsibility and stop blaming everyone else for bad situations that you create, was what he basically meant.

Okay, I am done ranting and raving. Stepping off the soapbox now...

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