By Lisa Chinn
Etiquette has a huge impact on the way clients perceive you and your business. In the wellness industry, practitioners should aim to make clients as comfortable as possible, especially when they might be coming to you with slightly embarrassing ailments or after traumatic experiences. The way you speak to clients on the phone, the way you discuss sensitive subjects in person and the words you choose when you send out emails all have huge effects on clients’ comfort levels.
Phone Etiquette Tips
- 1. Clear your throat before making or answering a call. If you haven’t spoken in a while, it can be a good idea to warm up your voice a little by saying some words out loud or singing a little to make sure your voice isn’t hoarse.
- 2. If you happen to have a cold or allergies, blow your nose before you make a call so that you won’t be sniffling over the phone.
- 3. Reveal your identity right away when calling a client. For example, something along the lines of “Hi, this is Lisa from Lisa’s Spa. Could I please speak with Hillary?” lets whomever answers the phone know right away that you are polite and that you are not a telemarketer. Do not, however, reveal any private details of a client’s treatments until you are sure you are speaking to the client and not one of her family members.
- 4. Once you have the client on the phone, inform him or her of the purpose of your call right away. It’s also a good idea to ask whether you called at a good time if the call is going to take more than a minute or so.
- 5. Always ask politely if someone will mind being on hold before putting a person on hold. If a client sounds concerned about being put on hold, politely explain what you need to do while they are on hold and about how long it will take (open the scheduling program on your computer, pull up their file, etc.).
- 6. If you use the same cell phone number for business and personal purposes, make sure your voicemail greeting sounds professional and mentions your business name.
Email Etiquette Tips
- 1. Keep your email correspondence concise because clients won’t always read emails that look like they will take a long time to read.
- 2. If you have an automatic email signature, have it setup to include only your name and appropriate contact information. Then, personalize the way you sign off before your signature. Clients will feel much more special when you say something along the lines of, “looking forward to seeing you Monday,” than when you say, “Regards,” or something very impersonal.
- 3. If you email multiple clients at once, make sure to use the Bcc (blind carbon copy) option instead of typing everyone’s email address into the “To” box. The Bcc option protects clients’ privacy by making sure they do not all see each others’ email addresses.
Dealing with Embarrassing Situations
Clients often feel embarrassed about issues that are routine for professionals. For example, a self-conscious client might be embarrassed to be getting a bikini wax or talking about acne with an esthetician. People might also be embarrassed to discuss weight or digestive issues with a nutritionist or to show up to a personal training appointment when they are very out of shape. You’re here to help with these issues and most of them probably aren’t a big deal to you as professional; however, some clients might still feel embarrassed no matter how common their ailment is.
As a wellness professional, it’s a good idea to identify situations that clients commonly feel embarrassed about and plan techniques for making clients more comfortable. These strategies will vary depending on the specific area of wellness you work in, but some general responses work well in many situations. The most basic and direct way to address an embarrassed client is to inform the client that you deal with his or her issue all the time and that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Another idea is to relate to the client in some way. For example, you might share with a client that you used to have acne, too, or that bikini waxes also embarrassed you until you trained professionally as an esthetician.
Always try to remain as polite and non-judgmental as possible. Don’t joke about physical conditions or embarrassing moments unless you’re absolutely sure it won’t offend the client. It’s usually best to err on the side of professionalism rather than joking, discussing embarrassing topics in too much detail, or doing anything else that might make some clients uncomfortable.
Privacy is incredibly important to clients, and maintaining professionalism and privacy is one of the most crucial components of etiquette for many types of wellness businesses. Always try to remain polite, ethical and professional. Don’t share too much personal information about yourself unless a client asks and you’re comfortable sharing. On the same token, don’t dig too much into a clients’ personal life unless he or she volunteers the information freely. I once had a hairdresser I just met ask a bunch of detailed questions about my love life, and it felt very invasive!
Here are some tips for maintaining privacy and customer comfort:
1. Always speak quietly about potentially embarrassing conditions when others are nearby. If a client seems hesitant to explain something about his or her condition in a public reception area, offer to have a private consultation in another room.
2. When a client enters a treatment room before you, always knock before entering. Even if the client is not changing or doing anything private in the room, it can feel invasive if you open the door without knocking.
3. If a client needs to be partially undressed for any type of treatment, provide as many cover up options as possible. For example, offer robes, towels, gowns, sheets, etc. as needed.
4. Do not discuss your clients’ or patients’ personal health information with anyone unless you have received explicit written consent to do so.
5. It’s a good idea to practice verbally explaining your confidentiality policy and/or having a printed version of your policy in case a client asks about it.
Clients come to you because of your outstanding services, but many also choose a wellness provider based on who seems the most professional. Etiquette can really contribute to business success, and it doesn’t have to take too much work on your part to learn proper ways to deal with most common situations. We’d love to hear some of our readers’ tips on how they make clients comfortable or handle different potentially embarrassing situations! Please feel free to add your voice to the comments section below.
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