What aesthetic clinics can learn from spas

By Wendy Lewis / 01 Feb 2014

Wendy Lewis suggests that clinic owners and managers should take inspiration from high-end spas to create a relaxing environment for patients

More often than not, as soon as you enter an upscale spa an immediate sense of calm immerses you. This comes from the aromatherapy candles infusing the air, the soft and flattering lighting, the handsomely upholstered seating, and the warm and friendly welcome when you check in for a self- indulgent treatment. These factors, and other pampering amenities, elevate the spa-goer’s experience, and according to the Global Spa and Wellness Summit, in 2013 we were loving it to the tune of $1.9 trillion US dollars worldwide. 
So what distinguishes the leading spas of the world? First and foremost, their goal is to guarantee the ultimate spa experience to all customers, and to deliver five-star service at all times.
By contrast, think about the last aesthetics clinic you visited, including your own or the one where you work. What adjectives come to mind? Pampering, relaxing, indulgent, exclusive, and caring? Or is it more like rushed, rude, disorganised, sterile, and impersonal? Regrettably, I see more clinics where the latter applies far more than the former.
Let’s look at what aesthetics clinics can learn to benefit from the world of high- end spas. Below are some key spa trends that may serve as inspiration for taking your patients’ clinic experience to the next level.

STAY CALM & SPA ON

The relaxation aspect of spas is what draws us in. It is a chance to unwind and block out the sensory overload of an overscheduled modern lifestyle. This resonates with busy mums, stressed out executives, frequent travellers, as well as pensioners and housewives alike.

According to the new Spafinder Wellness 365TM 2014 Trends Report, “The physical benefits of spa and wellness activities have long been known to reduce stress and relax our bodies, but in 2014 and beyond there will be a sharp focus on interweaving mindfulness techniques into these practices to help us reach a whole new place of serenity and calm.”
Spa-goers want to be taken care of and pampered. They crave a little, “me time”. But don’t confuse that with fluffy beauty treatments that don’t deliver visible improvements. Spa-goers want both an atmosphere of indulgent serenity plus a selection of the most advanced clinical procedures available, and your patients should be able to expect the same.

CUSTOMISED THERAPIES

One of the cornerstones of the spa experience is not adapting a one-size fits all approach to clients. Customised solutions rate high with spa-goers and they are willing to pay a premium for the exclusivity of having a treatment programme created by a specialist, just for them. Consider incorporating a skin care range that offers customised formulations that therapists can create right in the clinic, by adding antioxidants, peptides, retinol or other key ingredients to suit their patient’s skin’s individual needs. One example of a customised procedure that speaks to this trend is the Silkpeel Dermal Infusion System, with which the specialist can develop the best protocol for each patient. An alternative is to develop your own signature branded treatments that are exclusively yours, and that patients cannot get anywhere else.

Maintaining detailed notes in patient charts can help therapists and practitioners stay on top of each patient’s progress and preferences. Imaging systems such as Visia® from Canfield also help facilitate this concept in clinics by tracking skin conditions, results, and educating the patient on his or her unique skin concerns.

TECHNOLOGY AND TREATMENT MERGE

Spafinder Wellness 365, an online resource for spa facilities, also predicts that for 2014, the application of ‘Wired Wellness’, a combination of health and technology, has the potential to change the way we both look at and approach our overall wellbeing. Their definition of “Wired Wellness” is “any point where digital and wellbeing intersect – from digital devices that track our every move to straightforward online booking engines. These examples of digital connectivity that aid our access to wellness is something we’ve come not only to expect but also to demand.”
This confirms that patients today want to have an efficient clinic experience, in line with other service businesses they frequent. Think boundary- pushing technology like Apple. Accept credit and debit cards for payments by using one of the many apps or programmes on offer, and send patients their receipts in the same manner. Offer online bookings, cancellations, and service and product purchasing through your website or social media pages. Use a software program to confirm appointments by email or text. This has the dual advantage of both saving on staff time and reaching patients on their mobile devices, where they are likely to be at their most accessible and responsive.

Technology takes some of the messy business, payment and scheduling details out of the experience so patients don’t have to sweat about the small stuff. They can just sit back and relax in the capable hands of your clinic staff.
The total patient experience is paramount in a climate where favourable online reviews, ratings and personal recommendations are powerful influencers for getting patients through the door. 

10 EASY WAYS TO UPGRADE THE CLINIC EXPERIENCE

  1.  Brighten up entrance and waiting areas with good lighting and window coverings that allow natural light in 
  2.  Refresh fraying carpets, paint, floors, soiled furniture 
  3.  Spruce up restrooms with a large mirror, a supply of makeup remover, concealers, facial wipes and cleansers 
  4.  Add a self- service beverage cart with coffee system and waters 
  5.  Offer free Wi-Fi and charging stations in waiting area and rooms 
  6.  Manage waiting times to fall within 15-30 minutes maximum 
  7.  Give patients spa-style gowns, robes and slippers to change into 
  8.  Restrict mobile phone usage for staff in patient areas 
  9.  Enter patient birthdays into your database to send a Birthday Special Offer 
  10.  Implement a VIP Programme with unique benefits for your loyal patients who refer their friends and family


The patient experience begins with their first contact with your clinic, which may be online, by phone, or walking or driving past your street. Every little detail factors into the overall experience of each patient in your clinic. Consider every element of your clinic. Was the clinic hard to find? Is the décor cold and icy? Does the clinic staff’s attitude correlate to the décor? Does it take too many rings before the phone is picked up? If you answered yes to any of the above, it’s time to take a closer look at what is going on under your roof.
Running an efficient clinic and getting it right is not a simple task. It is not merely a matter of spending a fortune to build the most beautiful facility, and bringing in state-of-the-art treatments. It is not just about providing effective treatments at a fair price either. There is also the all-important human factor. It’s about getting the right people on board who share the vision of the clinic manager or owner, and buy into a service culture that is so important today. It takes a cohesive team to make that happen. Ultimately, how your team interacts with each other as well as with your patients or clients can ensure that the experience of visiting your clinic is intimate, personal, unique and memorable, not unlike that of a high-end, luxurious spa. Think service, service, service to achieve this. 

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