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Massage Today
March, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 03

Developing a Solid Foundation: Client Retention Techniques

By Daniel Ruscigno

Successful massage clinics have several things in common, but perhaps the most important is a large and loyal client base. When talking about techniques to grow the business, we tend to focus on the "large" aspect of the client base, that is, on strategies to attract new clients.

However, it is important to remember that "loyal" is equally, if not more, important. Why is that? Acquiring a new customer can cost five to sixteen times as much as retaining a customer (source).

Before discussing techniques to improve client retention, it is important to understand why clients leave in the first place. Almost always, it comes down to poor service. In fact, up to 82% of consumers stopped doing business with an organization due to poor customer experience. For massage clinics, common poor customer experiences may be: an unpleasant or unknowledgeable therapist, an uncomfortable treatment environment, or an appointment not starting on time. Additionally, clients are often lost due to the failure of the clinic to follow-up to schedule additional appointments.

With some understanding of why clients leave, we can focus on how to get them to stay. Clearly, the most important factor in client retention is superior service. This begins with the necessities: maintaining a highly knowledgeable staff and a focus on friendly, personalized experiences. First, you want to ensure that you have created a relaxing environment for the client – hygienic, warm and overall comforting. You want your client to associate your clinic with relaxation. Because each client is different, be sure to ask if they are comfortable before beginning the treatment.

back massage - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Along with a comfortable environment, you want offer a highly personalized service to your client. While clinical basics of personalization involve understanding the client's source of discomfort, you want to go above and beyond to demonstrate that the client is important to you. One technique is to include personal notes along with treatment notes so that you can ask about children, offer them their favorite drink when they arrive, wish them a happy birthday or ask about a vacation they recently went on. Remembering important people and events can really make your client feel special and that will keep them coming back.

While personalized service and a comfortable environment are important, often the most frustrating experiences for a client happen outside of the treatment room. A professional clinic will reply to emails and phone calls in a timely manner. Not only is this important for showing the client that you value them, but it is also important for booking appointments. Clinics are also trending towards self-serve options like online appointment scheduling, so the client can book an appointment online at their own convenience. Lastly, something we have all experienced at one time or another is a prolonged wait in the clinic waiting room. It is important to respect your client's time and keep your clinic operating on schedule.

On top of offering outstanding customer service, a clinic should be proactive in booking follow-up appointments. That means not relying on the client to remember to book their next appointment, but rather reaching out to them yourself. The best technique for booking additional appointments is to ask the client to schedule their next visit as they are leaving their appointment. For those that opt not to book right away, many clinics make use of recall post cards. Recall cards are mailed to clients and often contain information on the health benefits of massage therapy, that they are due for their next appointment and where they can call or go online to book their next appointment. Practice management software will often automatically keep track of which clients are due for their next appointments and even email them on your behalf.

It is also important to stay in contact in between appointments. To do this, many clinics have adopted use of social media like Facebook or Twitter, as well as email newsletters. By frequently sharing your expertise, along with relevant and interesting articles and clinic promotions, clients will have repeated exposure to your brand, which may lead to increased appointments.

Lastly, it is important to ask for feedback. The only way to really know what you are doing well and what could use improvement is to ask your clients directly. Satisfaction surveys are great at capturing this data, but you will also want to talk directly with your clients (and especially with those that left).

While lost clients are inevitable, with a clinic-wide focus on a great customer experience and integrating smart business practices, your clinic can be truly successful.

Daniel Ruscigno is the co-founder of ClinicSense (previously PatientCal). ClinicSense offers practice management software that helps with scheduling, soap notes, billing, electronic insurance claims and more. For more information, visit


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