Customer Service is Marketing

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to visit a local spa and treat myself to a facial and a pedicure. The mere word “spa” conjures up a luxurious, relaxing, pampering experience in my mind. All of the spa advertising you see depicts this in great detail complete with beautiful relaxed women, candles, and elegant furnishings in a calm, serene setting. Ah, that sounds good to me. However, what transpired left a lot to be desired. Their message was incongruent with my experience.

Upon arrival, there were 5 employees at the front desk. Three were standing together talking among themselves. One was on the phone and the other was looking through a book. It could have been the appointment book. Not one of them stopped to greet me when I walked in. Not one even looked in my direction. I stood there for 6 minutes (which is like an eternity by the way) before the one who was on the phone addressed me. I guess she is the only one allowed to greet guests. During the time I waited, I actually considered leaving for I felt as though they really didn’t care if I was there or not. They certainly hadn’t made me feel pampered or relaxed let alone welcome and I wondered how the rest of this was going to play out.

The receptionist had me complete a form. After I finished I had a couple minutes to sit there before the woman who would be performing the facial came to get me. I spent this time observing. The place was dirty. The floors hadn’t been swept, there was debris everywhere. This was a complete turn off. The three employees who were standing together when I walked in were still talking away. And it wasn’t about how there were going to improve their customer service, they were gossiping.

So within a matter of the first 10 minutes of my “spa” experience I made the decision that I wouldn’t be returning anytime soon. And I hadn’t even had the services.

I would think the owner of this “spa” would be appalled if he or she were to experience what I did. After all, I’m not coming back. How many other clients did they lose that day?

Are the services you provide congruent with the message you are advertising? Are all your employees made to be aware that they are an extension of your marketing department? How do you police this?

In the end the facial and pedicure faired reasonably well compared with others I have had in the past. The employees were cordial. But there were definitely things they could have done better to make the experience one I would rave about and get me to return.

Right now my hard earned money is better spent anywhere else but there.

Kathy Jiamboi
Owner of Creativedge Marketing, where growth-oriented dentists find dental practice marketing strategies and advice to take their practice to a new and higher level.
More articles by: Kathy Jiamboi


  1. I am curious if you were at a spa in Westlake, as I had a similar experience at a spa there several years ago. The bottom line is the fact that your experience began the moment you made the appointment, and ended here, on your blog, with a sour taste in your mouth and the impossibility of positive word-of-mouth to the many people you know. You can market all you want, but if you don’t have the people to follow through with the promises, the bells, and the whistles, you might as well not market at all.

  2. You’ve made some really great points. Customers often take the time to speak up, but more often businesses remain clueless and eventually fail. How unfortunate for all involved. If you need any great spa recommendations for next time, I can certainly help you there. I especially love Irene H’s place in Westlake, Northcoast Aesthetic Center and Jan Lewis for massage. I these that were NOT where you visited.

  3. This blog about your experience at the spa really says it all. Customer service from a client’s perspective–what a novel idea!! It just points out so clearly that you can “market” all you want. But if the service is not at its best–not only is your marketing effort been wasted, but you have probably lost this customer forever.
    Thanks so much for sharing this experience. It is a lesson for all of us.
    PS If you want a salon with great customer service (Berea), just let me know.

  4. Hi Tom,
    It seems so simple doesn’t it? Yet almost everyday I encountered stuff like this. In fact I started another website, where I keep a record of the crazy things businesses do to thwart sales. And the media will tell you it’s this poor economy.

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