Winning and keeping new customers is an ongoing challenge for any business. A client consultation can be the lynchpin to success in the aesthetic industry, where client expectations and emotions are high.
How do you approach one of the first encounters with a new customer without blowing it?
Money to spend, nowhere to spend it.
Have you ever walked out of business, hands in the air, thinking you were ready to part with your money on a product or service but didn’t? Yeah, me too. Why is that?
After two-plus years of Zoom meetings during the worst of Covid19 and my 60th birthday celebrations slowly disappearing from the rearview mirror of my life, I started to think about aesthetic intervention, perhaps a series of non-surgical treatments to improve my appearance.
Let’s call it a need to feel hopeful.
I booked an appointment at a reputable full-service non-surgical skin clinic. Finally, the day arrived, and the designated skin care professional would make a treatment plan for me, and I would be renewed to my former self of 5 years ago. Surely, not too much to ask?
I had one stipulation, I didn’t want dermal fillers. Whether my perceived view on dermal filler injectables was right or wrong mattered not to me, I didn’t want to go there.
The skincare professional heard me but didn’t listen and went on to persuade me to reconsider my point of view.
I was willing to have my mind changed and politely listened to what they had to say; even so, I remained unconvinced.
Here’s where the skin consultation came unstuck.
Sensing my continued resistance, I was given a long list of non-surgical treatments and ushered on my way.
Sure, I wanted a plan, but this would be quite the journey. I left with a promise of an email with the itinerary for my roundtrip to the moon.
Hopeful? No, not really.
I got the email as promised; however, I never took them up on their offer, and they have yet to see or hear from me again, nor have they followed up to find out why.
They almost had me at hello.
This kind of customer outcome hurts and can leave many business owners pausing to ask what went wrong.
Forever seeking out new customers is costly and exhausting, and a failure can feel like a bad tinder date; it’s soul-destroying.
Acquiring a new customer costs you five times more than retaining an existing customer; this is well documented.
Marketers the world over know this only too well.
So, it makes good business sense to make a great first impression and turn new customers into raving fans who spend more in your business and are a constant source of referrals.
Although the clinic I visited had an excellent reputation, and as an industry educator and writer, I knew the devices recommended for me were world-class. In the end, it came down to the small matter of trust.
There was nothing about my experience that inspired trust.
Firstly, the consulting aesthetic nurse had very different goals from mine. And it showed.
Their goal was to increase their bookings for cosmetic injectable clients, and my goal was a more youthful appearance with non-surgical devices.
Call me crazy, but if the goals you set for your clinic do not consider your client’s needs, wants and desires, and you didn’t find a way to inspire trust, you might need to rework how you approach one of the most critical elements of your business.
Building trust through first impressions. Starting with the skin consultation.
Secondly, I was given a long list of what seemed like every treatment available in their clinic but with few explanations or options.
I was bemused at what they didn’t ask or explain. What was my budget? Which treatment would give an immediate result and inspire me to take the next step? What would they recommend next? What could I expect after each treatment? What intervals between treatments? And on it goes, you get the idea.
If I’d agreed to embark on the dermal fillers, the outcome might have been different. But that’s not what I was there for. So, in the end, they lost me.
The fragile first encounter.
There’s no surprise that first impressions can be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
Unconsciously, we humans size each other up within seconds.
When it comes to people, sometimes we get it wrong. The persona of a shy person is mistaken as aloofness, or the overtly enthusiastic can seem too gushy.
Later, if we give them a chance, we get to know the real person behind the insecurity of a first meeting. There’s no doubt many a love story could have blossomed if only it weren’t for those first impressions.
Your business is no different. But here’s the thing, just like the gushing extrovert, we’re not always aware of the first impression our business has on potential lifelong clients.
What makes one business grow from strength to strength and another struggle? Sure, there’s a myriad of things that ensure the success of your business.
But there’s one thing. The starting point. The first impression.
In love, we may get a second chance, but in business? Maybe not.
A well-designed skin consultation will change your business.
I say well-designed because checking off a few boxes will not make your business stand out.
Following all the rules of a good skin consultation is one thing, but as I found with my recent experience, listening to what your client is telling you and responding so they feel heard is altogether more challenging.
An aesthetic skin clinic owner may never hit the hopeful goals they’ve set if the client consultation is non-existent or below par.
Your skin analysis scanner.
You spent an inordinate amount on your skin scanner so you could highlight everything wrong with a client’s skin. Dehydration, hyperpigmentation, fine lines or deep wrinkles are all under review.
It’s enough to scare anyone into spending next year’s shoe budget on aesthetic treatments and any other serum or cream to fix things.
Except, they didn’t. They said they’d think about it. But, your skin, madam? You muttered in despair!
Well, sure, but something about the delivery of information did not inspire the trust required to embark on the many treatments you’ve suggested.
What happened? You got them to fill out the questionnaire, and you asked them what their concerns were. You explained what the skin scanner has revealed. And yet? Nothing.
What concerns your client?
While a skin scanner is an excellent tool for pointing out everything wrong, it’s also a good time to let your client know what’s going well or at least provide reassurance that the march of time or disasters of the past can be improved upon.
After all, we all need to feel hopeful.
A good consultation starts with understanding how the client feels about their concerns.
Discussing a client’s concerns can feel like a minefield; you’re walking over emotions inextricably linked to your client’s self-esteem.
A touchy subject, so you better pay attention, not just to what they’re saying, but to the emotions behind it.
Training in skin consultation communication should be numero uno on your list of things to do. If you have a team? Role play and learn to anticipate every objection or hesitancy and know how to overcome them.
Become a problem solver.
Some clients can articulate their concerns, but many don’t or won’t. After all, it’s hard to be objective about our appearance, and they may prefer to hear your point of view.
Seek permission before informing them of what you see.
If they agree, you can explain how and why the skin condition formed and offer solutions.
Asking if they understand or need more information, followed by a simple question.
“how does that sound to you?”
Success comes from encouraging your clients to share their thoughts, so you understand their needs and desires clearly.
Remember, you’re not selling a service; you’re solving a problem. Start with solutions, and build trust. Solve their problems.
In the end, every successful business solves a problem.
You can watch your business grow from strength to strength if you enter every encounter as a problem solver.
Book your client in for the first treatment.
If you’ve inspired their trust, booking the first treatment is the next step. Sending an email with a shopping list of services is a nice idea.
But that’s all it is. A. Nice. Idea.
If you know you can solve your customers’ skin care concerns and problems and you’ve answered every question and handled all objections, you can confidently ask them to book in without feeling pushy.
Start the journey with the first step.
If you plan to take your client to the moon and back with a long list of treatments, start with a single step, not a giant leap. If your client is concerned with pigmentation, even if you see other problems, start there.
If they’re happy with your service, the products you’ve recommended and the results they’ve achieved, they’ll return for all those other treatments you’ve suggested in their treatment plan and tell their friends.
Follow up after that first email.
If the customer didn’t book in and you feel all you have left in your back pocket is that email, send it, but you better make sure you follow up; otherwise, what’s the point?
You’re not being pushy; you’re providing memorable customer service.
And after every treatment, a follow-up phone call should be a non-negotiable with your team. Follow up.
Let me finish with a question.
As well as a well-designed skin consultation, what could the clinic I visited have done differently?
Q. You have a new team member specialising in cosmetic injectables and want to fill their booking schedule.
Do you a) advertise a [insert your offer] with every full skin consultation with the new aesthetic nurse?
Or, do you b) introduce them as your specialist cosmetic injector and offer a complimentary [insert your offer] with every specific consultation for injectable treatments?
I’ll leave you to ponder that, but I know what I’d do. Perhaps it starts with a shift in your business mindset. Sell the problem you solve, not the product or service.
See you next time,