In a world filled with hectic schedules and endless to-do lists, spas and salons have become a refuge for many seeking solace and self-care. The industry promises relaxation, rejuvenation, and empowerment, transforming ordinary moments into extraordinary experiences. However, not all salons and spas live up to these expectations, often leaving customers feeling disheartened and disappointed.

In the CX See Why show, our guest Charlotte (Hogg) Prescott, Director of Spa & Fitness at Fisher Island Club and the International SPA Association, joined host Dan Gingiss to shed light on the secrets of customer experience success in this industry. Drawing upon her industry experience and insights, Charlotte shared valuable points on tackling customer satisfaction in salons and spas.

A comprehensive collection and analysis of 7,043 customer reviews from 21 salons and spas in the USA by Clootrack provided data-driven insights throughout the show.


So, let's check the key insights discussed in the show.

A Closer Look at the Review Volume: Massage and Hair Color Stole the Show!

A staggering 55% of all reviews revolved around Massage and Hair Color. While these two treatments seemingly stole the show, customers also reported reviews around services like Hair Spa, Tan Removal, Manicure, and Pedicure.

Salon and Spa: Review Volume

Staff Skills Make All the Difference!

As always, Dan's quiz challenged Charlotte to guess the top delighters of customer experience, keeping their order shuffled for an exciting twist.

guess the top 3 drivers of customer delight: salon and spa

In an instant, Charlotte shared her answers without taking much time.

Charlotte: I definitely believe that Serive Quality, Salon Experience and Staff Skill & Behavior are the most important drivers.

To understand why she chose these 3, Dan asked about her experience connected to these drivers.

Charlotte said when it comes to a salon and spa experience, from the moment a customer steps through the door, they want you to feel relaxed and pampered. It's not just about the haircut or the massage but about the entire atmosphere and environment. In the world of luxury, the ambiance is king. But in busy cities, it's all about the top-notch experience and, skill, and expertise of the professionals. On a global scale, all three factors are essential for the ultimate salon and spa experience.

Are these the top 3 drivers?

Dan revealed the correct order of the drivers. Staff skills and behavior are number one, followed by Salon Experience and Ambience and Environment.

Top 3 drivers of salon and spa customer experience

Dan: We are gonna dig a little deeper into the data and the subcategories to see how we got there.

First thing first, let's talk about Staff Skills & Behavior

When it comes to staff skills, it's like a game of "hard skills vs. soft skills." Hard skills check if the staff know what they are doing, like being professional and detail-oriented. Meanwhile, soft skills unveil their compassionate, positive, and communicative side.

Staff Skills & Behavior: Salon and Spa customer experience

Dan: Could you please share your perspective on balance between these two sets of skills? How do you perceive the importance of hard skills and soft skills based on your experience?

Charlotte: I think in a spa and wellness environment, both skills are equally important. This is why the biggest challenge in this industry is placing the proper labor in place. It’s not only about what product they are leaving with after the treatment or the color of their hair; it’s also about the overall experience. And there is a joke , “Your hair stylist can be your therapist”. The same goes for massage therapists. They need to see what’s all going on with the client, and they need to see if the body is holding on to stress. So I can truly say that both skills are equally important.

Dan found Charlotte's statement that "hair stylists can become therapists" quite amusing. Especially the following insights revelation of Dan was about the same statement, which Charlotte hasn't seen before.

Hard Skills: Salon and Spa customer experience

When it comes to hard skills, Dan has pointed out that customers truly value the guidance and suggestions provided by stylists. In a way, they play the role of therapists, offering advice and support that brings a positive atmosphere to the salon experience.

Let’s check a couple of customers verbatim:

“the stylists really listen to what you say you want and offer suggestions if they don t think it will look right with your skin, tone, or shape of your face, etc.”

“stylists are very professional and knowledgeable! they are very good at helping select hair color and styles i love how i look when i leave and their advise on hair products helps me look good between appointments.”

Dan asked Charlotte about her thoughts on the reviews and the specific terms they used to describe their experience.

She answered with an example: during the pandemic, many people had to do DIY spa and salon treatments at home. However, the importance of professional salon and spa services cannot be underestimated. There is a certain level of expertise, skill, and human touch that cannot be replicated at home. The experience and satisfaction that clients get from visiting a salon or spa are far more valuable than the end product of the treatment itself.

Dan was completely on board with her thoughts and made a smooth transition into discussing the importance of soft skills.

Soft Skills: Salon and Spa customer experience

Talking about soft skills, Clootrack dug deep into the 'Friendly Attitude,' which is one of the top subcategories in soft skills. Professionals who can have informal discussions with clients about their personal lives and make them feel relaxed and valued are greatly honored. Taking the time to comprehend and meet the specific requirements and preferences of each individual is crucial to guarantee customer contentment. Moreover, having team members with warm smiles and the capability to explain procedures and services in-depth builds trust and enhances the overall experience.

He showed a couple of customer verbatim:

“takes the time to get to know the clients needs and reviews what was done. the last visit, asks what i liked and didn t like and what i d like to improve for the current cut.”

“i had a great experience here. i forget my stylist's name, but she was fun to talk to”

Dan added that what I love about these is that there is nothing about the product or services. It is about the experiences and how they were made to feel by the personnel. This is applicable to any industry.

Can Desk Staff Be the Villain of Delivering a Positive Experience?

Let's not only focus on the bright side but also explore the dark alleys that attract negativity. By digging into these factors, we can solve the issues and unleash a wave of incredible experiences.

Here, the contributor to most of the negative experiences is Desk Staff!

Desk Staff: Customer Experience in Salon and Spa industry

Dan found this interesting as this is the person people see first when they walk in. Many things happen with this person, like changing schedules, being pushy, not providing a relaxing environment, etc.

Dan: Does this surprise you? Can you talk about these non-professional staff who work at the front desk and how they influence the customer experience?

Charlotte: Unfortunately, this doesn't surprise me. A customer’s first and last point of contact is through the front desk. So they are as important as the services. We live in a fast-paced era; we do everything digitally with our smartphones. So when we need to communicate and interact with a human, we expect it to be pleasant. Customers want them to be swift, warm, engaging, professional, and friendly. So often, the front desk is the hub for everything. Even though they are juggling with many things, they need to ensure the customer gets a great experience as in the backyard. So getting such experience from the front desk will make them come back soon. Because they love it so much and they can't wait to come back!

So then Dan asked, "How can spas improve things in this area?" Because we need to know how to hire the right people and train them better. Since Charlotte is part of the International Spa Association, what advice would she give? Let's check.

Charlotte mentioned that they emphasize the importance of taking their time when hiring and finding the right people. She believes that anyone working in customer service and customer experience must have a genuine passion for serving others. When someone is truly passionate and personally connected to their job, it becomes more enjoyable and natural for them to provide excellent service. It's not just a regular job; it requires a special kind of dedication. The people business can be challenging and requires significant effort, which is why finding a candidate who loves what they do is crucial. Charlotte also suggested providing experiential training for potential hires.

Why Is Ambience Essential in Making Your Salon & Spa Experience Extraordinary?

Ambience: Salon & Spa Experience

In the salon, it's all about creating an experience that appeals to all the senses. Customers love the relaxing decor, the soothing aroma, and the calming tunes playing in the background. It's like a sensory symphony that leaves them feeling pampered and rejuvenated. Let's hear what Charlotte has to say about this.

Charlotte: I think the spa and salon experience should be aspirational. It should take you on a journey from the moment you step into the spa and salon. The pleasant aroma, the music playing in there, and the decor should set the ambiance. Then, your breathing will naturally slow down. Since we live in a fast-paced world, when a customer enters a spa, they need it to be a fantastic place. They will likely need to be patient and allow themselves to transition into a relaxed state of mind. People crave a level of luxury and pampering for themselves there. So, all of their senses need to be truly engaged.

Dan was completely in sync with these points and wasted no time diving into the juicy details of the concerns of customers in the salon and spa industry.

Addressing Customer Concerns in Salons and Spas

So, it’s time to uncover the pain points in the salon and spa industry and transform them into a glowing success!

1. Time 

So, there have been customer complaints about the time they have to wait, how difficult it is to book appointments, and the general lack of punctuality and time management at salons and spas. Dan asked Charlotte for her thoughts on this time issue and how salon and spas can better train their staff to prioritize customers' time.

Customer experience concern in salon and spa industry: Time 

Charlotte: Customers have many resources and options available to spend their time. It's a privilege if customer chooses to spend their time with your salon and spa. Train your staff to understand that privilege and respect it. They are spending not only their time but also their money. So we need to value that. 

Dan told Charlotte that it would surprise her that the next top concern of customers is Price; she had just mentioned it along with Time!

2. Price

Customer concern in salon and spa industry: price

So, there are two things to consider here: the pricing and the value customers expect from the amount they pay. Customers are willing to pay for exclusive or pampered experiences but want the value to match the cost. Let's check Charlotte’s thoughts.

Charlotte believes that pricing and value for money go hand in hand, especially in the salon and spa industry. Many salon and spa operators conduct price comparisons each year to get an idea of the market rates and where they stand compared to their competitors. The pricing of services offered by a salon and spa may also depend on the additional amenities or add-ons provided to customers. It is crucial to effectively communicate these details to customers and be transparent about the pricing structure.

Consistency is another important aspect to consider in salon and spa pricing. Prices may vary based on factors like hair length and type, so keeping accurate records of customer history can help maintain consistency in what is charged. If there is a need for a price change, it can be addressed openly, and customers can be informed about the reasons behind it. This helps to set clear expectations for future services.

When customers understand what they are paying for, they are more comfortable with the value of their money.

That discussion was absolutely fantastic! We really dug deep and got some mind-blowing insights.

Now, let's check the key takeaways for all industries from the salon and spa industry.

Key Takeaways for All Industries

Key takeaways for all industries from salon and spa industry


1. Staff skill and expertise is crucial for a positive CX in any industry

Investing in staff training and development programs can actually have a huge impact on improving customer satisfaction. It's important for the staff members who interact with customers directly to be friendly, approachable, and welcoming. When they have a positive attitude, it instantly makes customers feel comfortable and welcomed. 

2. Flexible booking options can significantly enhance the CX in any industry

Make it easy for customers to book your services by offering multiple booking channels such as a website, app, or phone line. This way, they can choose the option that is most convenient for them. Additionally, show your customers that you respect their time by being efficient and prompt in your service delivery. Recognize that people value their time and prioritize it accordingly in your own business practices.

3. Transparent pricing is a critical factor in customer decision-making in any industry

Being upfront and open about pricing and the benefits can help support higher prices in any industry. It's totally fine if prices need to increase, but it's important to communicate this to customers in a way that doesn't catch them off guard and create a negative experience. The goal should be for people to comprehend and appreciate the pricing and feel like they're getting value for their money.

In a nutshell,

It is revealed that staff skills and behavior are the number one drivers of customer satisfaction, followed by salon experience and ambiance. It is essential to have a balance between hard and soft skills, as they both play a crucial role in creating a positive experience. Desk staff should be trained to provide excellent customer service, as they are the first and last point of contact for customers. Furthermore, time management and transparent pricing were identified as pain points for customers, highlighting the importance of prioritizing customers' time and effectively communicating pricing and value. 

Need a dose of expert insights in the salon and spa industry? Get your hands on our jam-packed report! Don't miss out; download your copy now: Salon & Spa Industry: Unlocking Growth Opportunities through Customer Insights