Offering on-site seated massage therapy services is a great way to build your massage practice. Onsite massage is even a primary marketing strategy for some therapists. Creating a great client experience at your onsite massage gig is the key to growing your clientele.
The type of on-site massage I’m referring to here is 10 to 20-minute treatments, usually using a portable massage chair, to work with multiple clients at a business or other event. Even though I’m not referring here to a mobile massage service for individual clients, most of the strategies below will also create a positive client experience for that scenario, too.
What is customer experience and why is it important?
Customer experience (CX) is the ongoing interaction between you and your customers or clients. It occurs before and after they buy from you. (Since the terms clients and customers are synonymous for a service business like a massage therapy practice, I tend to use them interchangeably.)
Client experience is a major factor that defines your massage practice’s brand. Each interaction is an opportunity to demonstrate how you provide value and benefit with your service, and how you are different from your competition. Do something that sets you apart, and exceeds your clients’ expectations.
Your customers will remember their experience with you, even if they forget your logo or tagline. So do whatever you can to make a good impression. Providing a great customer experience will increase the chance of getting repeat business.
Customer service is just one component of customer experience. Customer service is limited to transactions between you and your customer. CX includes all of the touch points that a client has with your practice or brand. This includes everything they touch, smell, see, hear, or taste. From how convenient it is to schedule with you, through the application of skilled treatment techniques that solve their problem.
Research shows customer experience is critical for success
In 2012, O’Keefe & Company – an independent market research firm – conducted a research project on customer experience for Oracle, the largest software development company specializing in databases. They surveyed 1,342 senior executives in 18 countries to assess business’ challenges, financial impact, and insights about customer experience.
97% of these executives stated that customer experience is critical to success. The significance of customer or client experience is rising due to higher customer expectations and social media. Executives also estimate that they would experience a 20% loss of revenue if they didn’t offer a “positive, consistent, and brand-relevant customer experience.”
“Customer experience can make or break a business”
A survey conducted in 2011 by Harris Interactive revealed that 86% of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience.
A 2014 American Express survey found that on average, happy customers tell eight people about their good experiences, and tell 21 people about their bad experiences. This sharing of information and reviews has become much more prevalent and easy since the rapid adoption of social media. It is also important to note that word-of-mouth has a much stronger impact between friends or family than it does for strangers. I suspect that the significance of positive reviews will continue to grow into the future.
Some of the most successful businesses in the world obsess over customer experience. So every massage practice owner should follow their lead and make CX a priority. According to a 2016 report by the research company Forrester, 72% of businesses name improving customer experience their top priority.
Take away message: Customers are willing to pay more for a better experience.
Creating a great client experience is necessary for repeat business and referrals
Create an exceptional on-site massage experience to get invited back by the host company. Just doing an average job here won’t get people to schedule an appointment with you at your office. But if everyone raves about you, then the event coordinator will want to bring you back.
A great experience with you also means that if this company wants to offer another on-site massage event, then you are the therapist that they will call. This also means that you are more likely to get a referral for a gig at another company. It can be this organizer that makes the referral, or any one of the client/employees you work on.
Focusing on nurturing relations with existing clients leads to higher client retention, and avoiding the need to chase new clients indefinitely. The more times that the individual clients see you at an on-site event, the more likely they are to schedule an appointment with you at your office.
Provide a remarkable customer experience to get your clients to remark about it to others. Help your host and your clients share their awesome experience with their friends and colleagues that work at other companies having business cards or brochures available.
Leverage your onsite massage gig to grow your practice
Know your desired outcome ahead of time. Is your primary goal to impress them enough that you get called back to do an on-site gig again? Or is it to convert as many of these people into clients that come to your office for a 60 or 90-minute massage?
“A business exists to create a customer.” – Peter F. Drucker
If this event has clients that are in your target market, use it as a way to learn more about them. This could mean just asking a couple of questions to each person and making a mental note of their answers. Researching your target market will help you learn the best way to promote your practice to them.
For example, ask if they receive massages regularly, or ever. Ask want they do in their off time. Ask about their current exercise regimen. Don’t turn it into 20-questions. But people do like to talk about themselves and these are relevant questions to massage. Use this opportunity to build rapport with this person.
Find ways to strengthen brand awareness of your practice. Be yourself and stay true to your business’s brand. This will help you attract more clients in your target market because when it comes to people “like attracts like”.
Opportunity: Offer a coupon for 50% off a 1-hour massage at your office for new clients, if they schedule this week. I think this works better than just offering a free 30-minute massage and then hoping to upsell them to a 1-hour treatment. But I recommend that you test different strategies to find the most effective ones. Different target markets respond differently to marketing strategies. See what works best for your practice, and leads to the highest conversions from strangers to repeat clients.
1. Personalize the experience
Do a little research about the client company before the scheduled event. What challenges or stresses do they likely have? If the event will be mostly office workers, be prepared to offer some personalized
recommendations to correct postural problems related to spending a lot of time sitting. Cater to your host company’s needs. Get to know your customers holistically to help you understand their needs and wants, and be able to create personalized interactions.
Brush up on your seated massage skills if you haven’t done it in a while. Be able to quickly adjust your chair to different body sizes.
Make event day(s) more memorable for the clients and the event coordinator. Take a few photos to put in your marketing materials or newsletter. Companies that have aninternal newsletter may want a couple of photos for their own newsletter.
You could also include a photo along with a few client statements on how much they appreciate the company setting this up, the next time you want to set up a gig with this company. This will also be social proof to help you score on-site jobs with other organizations.
By listening to each client you work with, you will likely discover new opportunities to offer your services to them again. For example, someone could mention how the company will be switching to a new computer system in 2 months, which will be very hectic and stressful. This presents a good opportunity to suggest to your event coordinator that they bring you out again during this time.
2. Set up an optimal treatment area
Talk to your host ahead of time about choosing an ideal space for you to set up. Recommend a space with a relaxed and quiet atmosphere. If you are working a job for a big company, make sure the location where you set up is centrally located and easy to find. If you plan on offering some refreshments then have a table nearby. Locate a chair for your next client to comfortably sit and wait if they come early. Ideally have your massage chair and other gear set up so that you can bring everything in one trip. Rolling storage containers are great, but find out ahead of time if you will need to go up stairs.
3. Build rapport and connection quickly
Make each new client feel welcome and important. Introduce yourself with a firm and confident handshake, smile, and direct eye contact. Use each client’s name a couple of times throughout their treatment to help you remember it and to build rapport. This is especially important if this is an on-site gig that you will repeat. Never use a lazy name substitute like “buddy”, “bro”, or “man”. This is a client not your buddy, and people like hearing their own name. People will probably forget your name, so remind them, wear a nametag, or give them a business card.
Beginning each onsite event with the mindset that it could become an ongoing gig will put you in a different frame of mind than if you expect this to be a one time thing.
Find ways to quickly connect with each person and make them feel special. Ask a couple of open-ended questions. Even though you will have a fairly brief time with each client, do your best to make it not feel rushed.
People remember how you make them feel. A good rule of thumb is to focus on providing a better experience for the client in front of you in that moment.
4. Be attentive to the details
It’s often the little things that people remember. So pay attention to the details to improve your client’s overall experience. If you are working an on-site gig where a lot of your ideal clients work, you will learn a lot about your target market by listening to them and how they interact with each other.
Ask before using any oils or lotions, and be sure to use unscented products. Have a mirror available for people that want to check their makeup or hair before returning to work. Accommodate different music preferences by making music optional or offering a couple of choices. Invite your clients to unplug for the next 15 minutes by turning their phone off.
Provide an easy way for your clients and the event coordinator to give feedback. This will help you improve for next time, and it demonstrates your commitment to excellence.
Be attentive to any problems that your event coordinator may have had in setting this event up. Did they have trouble getting people to sign up? Would a different pay structure make it easier to turn this into a regular perk that the company or host can offer? How could you help with the promotion of this event?
5. Demonstrate the value in your services
Customer satisfaction depends heavily on customers or clients feeling like they got a great value for what they paid. Does your service produce the results that it claims? People remember the beginning and end of an encounter, so be sure to finish strong.
A small, unexpected gift increases the perceived value of your service. Providing refreshments could accomplish this. Ensuring a great customer experience will increase your client’s perceived return on investment (ROI).
Consider how other businesses create a customer experience that justifies a premium price, demonstrates their value, and creates brand loyalty. Starbucks charges $3 for coffee that you could make for $0.25 at home. They do that through branding and creating an atmosphere that appeals to their target market. Zappos isn’t in the business of selling shoes. Their business is “delivering happiness”. Some consultants charge $200 to $1,000+ per hour because they have mastered their art and positioned themselves as experts. Practically anyone can give a backrub, so think of ways you can skillfully offer your craft and justify premium rates.
6. Ensure that everything runs smoothly
Work with your company event coordinator to ensure that the event runs smoothly. Be clear about the expectations and responsibilities for both you and the organizer or coordinator. Educate them in advance about the best way to make event day run smoothly.
Provide the coordinator with a signup sheet if needed. During the event, inform the coordinator of any missed appointments or openings in the schedule and try to fill them. He or she probably has many other things to do besides ensure that people make it to their appointment on time, so help out with this. Help them get the word out to their employees to get people signed up quickly. Make it easy for them to do business with you.
7. Show appreciation that they hired you
Clients have plenty of choices when it comes to hiring a massage therapist for their on-site event. Show them that you value their business and are willing to earn their loyalty.
Start by being flexible to meet their needs. Avoid scheduling appointments right after the event in case they need you to stay longer to work with additional people. It’s also nice to send a handwritten thank you note to the event coordinator; drop it in the mail on the way home. Then be sure to follow up with them after the event to get feedback. Come up with a quick and easy way to receive feedback from the host and all the clients.
What other ways can you think of to make an on-site massage event awesome and improve the client experience? Please comment below.