Apr 6, 2018
What to do when clients don’t give feedback or when they give it to people other than you? We discuss and give a few ideas.Listen to "E152: How to Handle Uncommunicative Massage Clients" on Spreaker.
What to do when clients don’t give feedback or when they give it to people other than you? We discuss and give a few ideas.
This episode is sponsored by:
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Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we discuss the business side of massage therapy. I’m Michael Reynolds.
Allissa Haines And I am Allissa Haines.
MR We’re your hosts. Thanks for joining us today. Welcome, Allissa. Spring is in the air. The sun is shining. That’s your weather report from Indianapolis.
AH And it’s similar here, but it’s cold and damp. But the sun’s out, but it’s cold and damp.
MR Yeah, I don’t believe it. I’m still skeptical.
AH Oh, and we have gale force winds today. Gale force winds.
MR Yeah, today’s just a tease. Not going to happen.
AH Well that’s everybody’s weather banter. Rock on.
MR You’re welcome. [laughs] You could tell we’re so tired of winter. All right. So what do we got today, Allissa?
AH We’ve got a really great reader question. I got an email a couple weeks ago from a reader and a listener who asked how to handle uncommunicative massage clients. And specifically, she said, “My repeated observation, after 6 years in practice, is client’s lack of direct, clear communication about their needs and expectations for a massage. Some of them smile at the end of the treatment, thank me, and then go and complain at the front desk. And I will never understand this kind of behavior. Even if you ask for feedback, many still won’t say anything due to fear. But it’s always a certain type of client — like a shy, insecure type — or sometimes the passive aggressive types — like the ones who go and complain at the front desk. How do we handle a lack of communication and best meet their needs?”
So, I got a two-part answer here, as usual. The good news — the bad news — let’s start with the bad news. The bad news is you cannot change who people are. You cannot change their willingness to give feedback or their initiative in being part of their own care in the manner of giving feedback to guide your treatments. You cannot change who they are. The good news is, you cannot change who people are. So you can let it go.
I have a few suggestions to encourage more feedback even when people are a little timid or whatever. So let’s start with the first bit. And, again, this reader actually sounds like she’s in an employment situation where she mentioned that they say they like the massage then go to the front desk and complain to someone else — [break in audio 3 seconds] — because when you are in an employment situation, you don’t have as much control over these things.
Here’s my suggestions. Educate. Before anyone has a first massage with you, they should get some “what to expect at your first massage with me” kind of info in written form with their first appointment confirmation. There should be that information available to them. Yeah, some people still aren’t going to read it. But then you’re going to reinforce that “what to expect and here’s how you should speak up” information. In your verbal intake, you’re going to make sure that you say, one, if anything needs to change — and my schtick is if you are not comfortable during this massage, I want to know about it. I want to make this perfect for you. If you’re too hot, if you’re too cold, if you hate the music, if something is not comfortable, you let me know. I can position you any which way to be sure that you’re cozy. And that can help. That can open that up to people to make sure — sometimes they’ll speak up. Sometimes they still won’t no matter how often you ask them to speak up. But you want to put it out there. You want to lay the foundation so that eventually they will feel comfortable speaking up with you.
And then to the point of wanting to make sure that we give them the massage that they want and need, how to best meet their wants and needs, when we ask them — we have to ask them straight out, “What are you looking for from this massage today? What do you need?” Now, this might be an easy question if you’re someone who has a specific specialty, and you treat people with neck and jaw issues, you’re going to know that they’re in there for their neck and jaw issue. But for more general practitioners, or if you have a little more varied practice, this can change. And it can change for each client from visit to visit. So every single visit, ask what their needs are for that day. I have some clients who need and want me to do tons of deep work to their low back sometimes, and then other times they come in and they don’t want me to touch their low back; they just want to chill out. So make sure before each appointment, you’re saying, “What do you need from this massage today? What are your goals?” And then repeat that back to them. “Okay. So we want a little extra work on that right shoulder, and you also want a head to to relaxation.” Or “okay, you want me to start with your knee issues, and I’ll check in with you to see where you want us to go from there to make sure we’ve completed the knee stuff before we move on.”
And then that moves us into my next point, which is check in after working on those goals. Now, you can’t always do that. If someone’s goal is to have a completely chill 60-minute relaxation massage, you’re not going to wake them up halfway through and go, “Are you getting enough relaxation massage?” Obviously, that would not make sense. But if you have a clear goal like a shoulder or knee thing, work on that thing first. Or if you don’t work on that thing first, make it real clear why. So say to someone, “I want to put some heat on your knee before I work on it, so I’m going to get some heat on there, cover the rest of you real quick, and get to that knee.” You want to make sure that client knows so they don’t spend the first 15 minutes of their massage wondering why you’re not working on their knee, which was your primary goal. So get to that area first or make it clear why you’re not.
And then when you feel like you’ve done all the things you can do there — or even when you’re just halfway through — get their feedback. Hey, how’s it going with this knee? Is there any area that I’ve missed or is there something that you want me to go back to? Now, sometimes when you say, “Is there anything I missed?” — one of my friends, we trade massage, she gets really annoyed — when I say that — “Is there anything I missed?” — “No, you didn’t miss anything.” As if I’m insulting myself by asking that question. So I won’t say that with her. I’ll say, “Is there anything you want me to go back to?” So without her feeling like she’s insulting me by saying, “Yes, you missed my SCM,” then she can say, “Yeah, do a little bit more on the front of my neck.” So check in. When you feel like you’ve met those goals, make sure the client also feels that you’ve met those goals.
And finally, with very regular clients, do a clean slate check in on occasions. So even if you’ve had a client who twice a month for 10 years has come in just for relaxation, make sure on occasion you say “Hey, is this relaxation massage still meeting your needs? Do you want me to try anything different? Do you want to be a guinea pig today for some different stuff or are you happy with how it’s going?” Don’t assume that someone wants the same thing over and over again.
And, yeah, that’s what I have to say to that. Michael, I’m ready to bounce into our halftime sponsor. Who is it?
MR Oh, thanks for asking me because I get to say it is jojoba.
AH We are so excited that Joba Care jojoba is our sponsor.
Sponsor message What I want you to know about jojoba is that it is not an oil; it is just jojoba. Jojoba is a liquid wax ester akin to the esters that your skin produces. This is important because it means that jojoba is non-allergenic. This is great for massage therapists because they can use it on any client without fear of that client having an allergic reaction. It also means that jojoba is non-comedogenic. It doesn’t clog pores. So if you have clients that are prone to acne, jojoba will not cause that breakout reaction. In fact, jojoba can help clean out and clear the pore. It doesn’t go rancid. It can get hot and cold and hot and cold again and it won’t go bad, and it doesn’t stain your cotton sheets. That’s pretty awesome. We adore the Jojoba Company, and they’re the only company in the world that carries that 100% first press — pure first-press quality jojoba. So if you want to learn more, if you want to get some jojoba, you can go to massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba, that’s massagebusinessblueprint.com/J-O-J-O-B-A.
AH I cover it, Michael?
MR Yep. I just got to say jojoba, so I was happy.
AH It’s the little things.
MR I know.
AH Okay, finally, I want to just touch upon the “people who complain later” situation. If they’re someone who you’ve done all of the pre-massage education that you probably can, and then they nod at you and say the massage was great, and then they go to the front desk and complain, if that client never sees you again, you can’t do anything about it. That’s fine.
But if you have a client who regularly does this, or they’ve just done it once or twice, if you’re going to see them again, be as proactive as you can possibly be about it. So the next time they come in, acknowledge it. “Hey it sounded like you weren’t entirely happy with the last treatment, and I never want a client to feel that way. What do you need today? What do you need today to make this the best massage for your needs?” That’s it. Acknowledge it. Hopefully, they’ll tell you. If they don’t tell you, it’s on them. You can’t do anything about it. And sometimes you just need to let it go. Some people just won’t speak up. They perceive that giving feedback is the same as causing conflict, and they will avoid it. It’s not about you; it’s about them.
And my final thought here is that, especially in that situation where someone tells you that the massage was great and then they complain to someone else, if there are multiple people complaining about the same thing, then you do need to address it. Don’t let that one go. Because if you’ve had 3 people or 4 people or 100 people complain later on that the massage was a little too deep, then your massage is a little too deep. You’re hurting people and you need to stop it. If you’re getting random complaints that are very clearly just people who like things to be perfectly perfect, but don’t want to tell you what perfectly perfect is, that you can let go. If you’re getting — if you’re hearing complaints go around about pressure or comfort or cleanliness and you’re hearing that same complaint a couple of times, you need to adjust. So that is on you. And I don’t want to put that completely as the burden of the client, because if you’ve heard a complaint more than once, then there’s probably merit to it. So look internally, seek some mentorship, drop me an email, and that’s all I have to say, Michael.
MR Nice. I like it. All right. Well, we’ll wrap up there then. Thank you so much, everyone, for joining us. You can find us online. You know where to find us: massagebusinessblueprint.com. And if you have a question or a comment or a topic for us, that you’d like us to bring up in a future episode or get back to you on, email it to us at email@example.com, and we will answer it in a future episode. Thank you, everyone, for telling your friends about us, the iTunes reviews — we need to read some next time, I think. We got a few more than make me happy. So we’ll check them out next time. But thank you for those, and thanks for listening. We’ll see you next time.