Learn How to Retain Customers

By ASCP Staff

Do you find that you are attracting new clients every month, but very few of them are rebooking before they leave or returning for future services?

If this is the case, you may be a one-hit wonder. Do you wonder why clients aren’t coming back for a series of chemical peels or a monthly Brazilian wax? Do you find yourself questioning your hands-on skills as an esthetician or doubting the recommendations you’re giving clients for skin care treatments? Chances are, it has nothing to do with the facial or the leg wax you gave the client. The problem may be your customer service. In a poll from Harris Interactive, 86 percent of respondents said they would stop patronizing a business because of just one bad customer service experience.¹ 

This means you only have one chance to turn a new client into a loyal client and the importance of first impressions in customer service is undeniable. Why should you care? Here are three very good reasons:

  1. Client shaking esthetician's handThe Harris poll also indicated that clients would pay up to 25 percent more for a great customer service experience, which helps your bottom line in a competitive skin care market.
  2. The cost of attracting one new client is 6–7 times more expensive than your cost to retain that client, not to mention the amount of time and energy you’ll save yourself.
  3. Perhaps the most important reason: Clients won’t see the results they were seeking when they booked a service with you if they only have one treatment. It’s possible the client just wanted to come in for a nice, relaxing facial, and didn’t really have any skin care concerns they wanted addressed. But think about why most of your loyal clients sought out an esthetician in the first place. Most of them had a problem with their skin they wanted you to solve. It may have been severe acne, or the results of years of sun damage. The “one and done” client will never achieve their skin care goals with one service, so it’s critical to emphasize client retention.

Client retention can offer a lifetime of value to your business. Loyal clients are also more likely to refer you to their friends and coworkers, purchase more retail from you, and post great reviews. Every esthetician should consider that a happy client who is seeing amazing results from your skin care services is a walking billboard for your services. Their entire circle of friends, family, and coworkers will notice the difference you made on your client’s skin. There is no better form of advertising!

Consider this experience:

Your client was going on a last-minute trip with the new love of her life, and your schedule was completely booked. There was no way you could squeeze her in for a hydrating facial. She tried another local esthetician out of desperation because she wanted to look as youthful as possible for her new love. When you saw her a few weeks later, you asked how her visit to the other esthetician had gone. She swore she’d never go back. Here are the reasons she gave you: 

  • She heard another client with a confirmed appointment complaining that she had to wait while the esthetician squeezed your client in for her facial.
  • No water or other refreshments were offered before or after the service.  
  • In the middle of the facial, the esthetician left the room to take a phone call and was gone for quite some time. 
  • No home-care recommendations were made, and they didn’t ask if she wanted to book another appointment.  
  • A 20 percent tip was automatically added to her bill. 

The client said the actual facial was fine, but her first impression was that there was a complete lack of good customer service. She felt no connection with the esthetician, who seemed robotic during the service, and there was nothing that made her feel special or compelled to ever visit again. The importance of good customer service is evident.

Track client retention numbers 

You should start tracking client retention from the first visit. The numbers will tell you how well you are doing with first-time clients. If you have spa software, it should be able to easily calculate how well you are doing with client retention.   

Start with a specific time period

You might look back over the last six months. Determine how many new clients you had during that time and if they returned within a three-month time period. This three-month period will allow you to capture the client who only comes in occasionally—or show you who hasn’t returned. Of course, the goal is a high client retention rate for first-time customers, which indicates a high level of customer satisfaction.

Ask customers about their experience

After you crunch the numbers and find that your retention rate leaves a lot to be desired, you need to learn why those clients never returned. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask them! Ask them what it was about their experience that made them not want to come back, listen thoughtfully, then commit to making some changes accordingly. Emphasize the importance of good customer service in your business to your client.

Be committed to providing excellent customer service

Review their consultation form and the skin care concerns they expressed. Did the service you gave address those concerns? Did you explain why you chose that service and how it would benefit their skin? Look at the day and time of their appointments. Maybe you overslept and were disorganized for their morning appointment. Or, it was late afternoon, and you were tired and not feeling well. Maybe you had scheduling issues, and they had to wait longer than they should have. From this moment on, commit to giving every client five-star customer service without exception.

Create a new client welcome offer

Creating a new-client welcome offer can be effective in building a loyal following and client retention. This can be especially effective if the client initially responded to a daily deal or promotion. Give them a certificate for a discount on their next service to let them know they are important to you and that you’d like to see them again. Send a handwritten thank-you note to new clients after the service to make them feel even more appreciated.

Making great customer service equally as important as the quality skin care treatment you give can keep you from having “one and done” clients. Even a small increase in client retention can make a big difference in your bottom line!   


  1. Oracle, “2011 Customer Experience Impact Report,” conducted by Harris Interactive, www.oracle.com/us/products/applications/cust-exp-impact-report-epss-1560...


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