How to lose a loyal client in one easy step and bringing back the art of customer service

Sit back, grab some frose and a snack my pretties, this a a long one 🙂

I’ve been going to this day spa/ salon loyally for over a year now, and have experienced a number of their services from facials, hair, nails and waxing, I’ve even used several of their branded skin care products.

I’ve recommended them to various friends and family members who have gone and left with that “meh” feeling and never returned but I still stuck with them because my experiences have always been good, until recently that is.

The last few times I’ve visited there have been issues.

1. Serious bruising after a wax service, I haven’t returned for any waxing needs since.

2. I hopped back on the acrylic band wagon because the new nail girl was supposed to be a superstar- my nails were flawed and disappointing to say the least. They did however fix the problem at no charge and I have loved both sets I’ve had done since and have every confidence that they would continue to be flawless.

3. I’ve booked several appointments only to be called or messaged to make changes.

4. When I’ve gone in (on more than one occasion) they haven’t booked enough time for all of the services I’ve booked and often have to break up my services over several visits which is a giant pain in the ass. Who has time for that?

So the other day was the last straw, I booked an appointment using their online booking system to have my nails and toes done.

I selected my usual acrylic fill and a pedicure. Chose the “no preference” for who did my nails because the online system told me that I’d get more options for times and I really don’t care who does my nails as long as they look good when they’re done.

Within minutes of clicking “book” on the online form I got the message that the person I booked with didn’t do what I wanted so we have to change your appointment.

Seriously, why have that option on there if you can’t accommodate the requests? New clients aren’t going to know who does what and when, all they know is what they want and when they want it.

So I said fine what are my options then… “we can do your fingers on this day at the most inconvenient time possible for a working person, and we can make your life even more of a scheduling nightmare by booking you in for your toes a couple of days later. “ (I’m paraphrasing of course)

Rolling my eyes and with a sigh I agreed because my claws were out of control and I was in my happy place at the lake.

Fast forward to the nail appointment, as usual my nails were flawless once she worked her magic and I was even forgiving that I had to wait nearly 15 minutes after my actual appointment time. (It was 14 to be exact because at 2 in the afternoon when you have to drag a 12 year old boy to the nail salon with you he’s gonna be watching the clock)

Fast forward another 2 days to part 2 of my marathon mani/pedi and I arrive to be asked so just regular polish today?

So I said “Ya, what I usually get.”

And I was told, “Oh well, you didn’t book for that.”

**deep breath now…don’t freak out** (that’s what I was chanting in my head)

Let’s give you some background and insight into me:

First- I’m a creature of habit I don’t change things up and I’ve been getting my nails done at this place for over a year.

Second- She (the owner) knows damn well what I get and knew damn well when the appointment was made what I get so SHE should be managing her time accordingly not me.

(This is why all required services appeared in my email confirmation that she manually input, but it’s still me that screwed up 🙄)

“Well it takes longer for gel…blah blah blah…it says right on the online system…blah blah blah…perhaps you should call to make your appointments from now on instead of booking online…blah blah blah.”

I tried to roll my eyes silently and not sigh too loudly but come on!

Here’s the thing I have called to book my appointment and the exact same thing happened “ Oh well we don’t have time for acrylics, we can do your pedicures today (my mom was with me) and book you in another day for your nails.”

She also threw another employee under the bus for that one, oh she does hair, she doesn’t know the timing blah back blah, if you have someone answering the phone for your business and making appointments they should be aware of all services and the time required for said services, regardless of their position, or they shouldn’t be answering the phone and making appointments. No?

I should have walked then, but hind sight is 20/20 and like I said before when I find a place I like I’m loyal.

I also have screenshots of the online system from the day at the lake because when in the sun I don’t always retain anything I do and I like pictures, no where on there does it say I have to manage their time by adding the gel add on. If your booking a service called “gel pedicure” or any of the other fancy ones you expect that they’ve allotted sufficient amounts of time to complete said service.

I’ve also noted that a “note” has been hastily added to almost all of the nails and toes services on the online system (with spelling and spacing errors, which is also a giveaway that they weren’t there before because I zero in on that kind of shit) since this incident but…she missed one. 😈

So back to the appointment that soured me and changed my entire beauty regime, they were my one stop shop.

“What do you want to do? Do you want me to just do gel and you can come back another day…” 🤬🤯

Honestly if my head could actually explode it would have at that moment- ya let me come back again!!! For f*** sake woman listen to yourself.

I’m the client, I’m paying you- provide the service!!

I muttered “ I think I want to go back to the place I used to go where I didn’t have to deal with appointments and being asked to come back”

“Well you can do that if you like, it’s your prerogative, but we can’t have clients wait and we’re booked solid.”

Looking around the spa – I was the only one there, not even another nail tech in the place and she’s telling me she’s booked solid.

But I digress, this is the part that almost had me walk right out the door and never look back- I was going to say you know what cancel my hair appointment for next week and leave but I decided no it’s not my hair stylists fault, so I took a deep breath and said “Just do the polish”

Let’s rewind though a touch shall we to 2 days earlier when I had to wait 14 minutes past my appointment for my acrylics…where was the “well we can’t have our clients waiting” attitude then?

The place I used to go I didn’t need to make an appointment, I walked in and was greeted immediately and they knew exactly what I wanted and they respected my time by saying give us 5 minutes or we need 30 minutes do you want to wait or come back? There was never any we’ll do half the service today and the other half next week nonsense. They also had staff!

So I’ve slept on it, located my booking confirmation and confirmed that the time for gel removal and reapplication was accounted for and less than 24 hours after paying $60 for a pedicure my polish is already chipped and I’m angry all over again.

This week alone I’ve spent $150 and nearly 4 hours at this spa and with my hair appointment next week (that I’ve now cancelled) it would likely be another $200 or more (according to my past receipts anyway), but I’m over it.

I’m walking away and with an extremely sour taste in my mouth- now I see why the friends I referred only went one time, and complained about the quality of the work afterwards.


That said I’ve let her know why I won’t be returning and only received a barrage of excuses and more blah blah blah it’s your fault you can’t operate the online booking system properly. 🤷‍♀️ What can you do? I’m not debating my decision with her just letting her know why I won’t be back, perhaps some improvements will be made as a result but I’m not betting on it.

It’s sad that both the acrylic guru and the hair stylist are both losing a loyal customer but I alas I am but one person so won’t make a difference to the bottom line.

However I have noticed that the spa seems to have a high staff turnover and a problem with client cancellations so perhaps there is a larger problem, who knows.

Businesses who are in the service industry, whether it’s appointment based or they have a “walk ins welcome” policy, need to step it up or risk losing their loyal clients.

Here are a few tips to bring back the lost art of customer service:

1. Make sure all of your staff are friendly and have the ability to interact in a positive way with your clientele, they represent your brand, they better bring their people skills

2. Have staff to handle the requests for services you advertise, nothing worse than having clients request services you advertise yourself to be providing only to have to tell them, darn we just don’t have anyone who can do that today.

3. Technology is a big part of our everyday and it’s got it’s good and bad points as far as I’m concerned – make sure you use a user friendly online booking system if you must use one. New clients aren’t going to know the inner workings of your business, if the system can’t be accurate and idiot proof for a first time user, it’s going to more harm than good. On the flip side, make sure you as the service provider allot enough time to complete said services- it’s not on your clients to manage your time

4. Don’t make excuses. Just don’t, the more excuses coming from you the more it agitates the client, just take responsibility and apologize. Finger pointing and blame placing also makes you look like a tool so steer clear of that as well.

5. Don’t ask someone to come back, once they walk out the door dissatisfied the odds of them coming back is 75% lower

6. Always make it right, if you have a client who is a longtime and loyal supporter of your business make it right. It’s much easier to keep a client you already have than it is to find new ones. This concept of “making it right” is often confused with “free stuff” giving someone free stuff isn’t always a solution sometimes it’s as simple as a note acknowledging the problem and letting them know that you’ll make it up to them with service that will blow them away next time.

7. The golden rule- it’s not that the customer is not always right, some people just can’t be pleased, but you as the service provider aren’t always right either when you screw up- OWN IT

For those of you wondering how I’m qualified to provide guidance on customer service, it’s quite simple I’ve been a consumer of both goods and services for nearly 80% of my life and I also used to facilitate customer service programs for one of the largest companies in Canada ensuring their staff had the skills to not only win business but also retain it.

Disclaimer: This post is obviously not sponsored but I have received special treatment and a complimentary facial from this establishment in the past.

About the author

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Professional communicator by day for a large international organization, freelance writer and content creator by night. Jennifer is living her best single life in the suburbs of Vancouver. Navigating dating in an online world that is breeding a hook-up culture that doesn't know how to handle a woman who already knows what she doesn't want. She shares her stories of dates gone wrong and the various life choices that led her this point in time.

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