Customer Service Tips for Therapists

I am sure that you regularly think about your clients and how to help them but do you ever think about 'customer care' in a more business-oriented sense? No? You are not alone. Google 'customer care for therapists' and most of the sites that come up are aimed at physical therapists rather than psychological ones. But we are business owners, and it's something we need to consider. So, with that in mind, I thought I would share a story about customer care.

A story of customer care

My youngest daughter recently had a very unpleasant experience. She had been for a late evening gym session and, as she got changed, all the lights went out, leaving her in pitch blackness. Making her way out of the changing room, she discovered that all the staff had locked up and gone home.

She tried the door, which set off the burglar alarm, but she couldn’t get out. The gym was inside a shopping complex, but no-one from security came to investigate the alarm. She had no phone signal to call us, and there was no note of the security office number anywhere on reception; she finally dialled 999 using the gym's desk phone. The Police rang the security office and, eventually, the guard turned up to open the door; altogether, she was trapped for over 20 minutes with the alarm blaring loudly the whole time.

Naturally enough, she was very distressed. After a few health scares, she had begun to exercise to help manage her anxiety, and this experience brought about a full-blown panic attack. The security guard’s response, as he left  her just outside the gym door to make her own way home, was ‘I don’t know why you’re still upset, you’re out now!’

She put in a letter of complaint and received an offer of compensation - a few free personal trainer sessions - which she was happy to accept. Unfortunately, they never materialised.  The trainer never got in touch as promised to arrange them, and they weren't added to her account so she could book them herself. After chasing them for a couple of months, she was forced to escalate things to Head Office and cancel her membership. So, an opportunity - and a previously happy customer - lost.

What is customer care?

This got me thinking a lot about customer service, which is not just about providing effective therapy, or even dealing with complaints – it’s also about looking after customers (clients) well so that complaints don’t arise in the first place. And that means the practicalities as well as the therapy.

In my daughter's case, for example, a simple check by the last member of staff to leave (to make sure that everyone had gone) would have avoided the whole catastrophe. That was probably missed because it had started to snow, and no doubt those concerned were thinking about the weather, and their journey home. That's understandable, I suppose, but it shows how important a moment's inattention can be.

And, while you might never have been careless enough to 'incarcerate' a client, what about those small checks that you can do before you part? Is your attention on the client that's still with you, or the next one? Or even on your journey home?

Customer service tips for therapists

Here are my top tips to ensure your customers (clients) are happy with your service.

1. If you work with hypnosis, remember that immediately after trance clients may still be in a heightened state of suggestibility. It’s a good chance to get in a few waking suggestions or to summarise what you feel they’ve achieved this time. It can help to ensure that they leave you feeling amazing and looking forward to coming back.

2. Don’t let clients feel they are being rushed out of the door once they have paid! Asking if they have any questions or feedback on the session can alert you to any concerns they might have which can be rectified immediately if possible, or scheduled for discussion next time.
It can be a daunting process, especially if you're newly qualified or dealing with an issue for the first time, but feedback - even of the negative variety - is part of the process. It's better to know if the client feels things are not going as planned, so you can adapt your approach.

3. Give clients an opportunity to give feedback if they wish after the therapy is finished, perhaps through an online form. Make sure you read and respond to all feedback.
Reach out and thank the client if it’s positive.
If there are complaints or criticisms, respond without getting defensive. Consider if the comments are justified (especially if you get similar comments more than once). If they are, can you improve things next time, or for others? If not, ask the client to expand on what they’ve said, or give an example of what they mean. There may be a genuine misunderstanding you can clear up.

4. Be easy to contact, within reason. Most therapists work by themselves so being on call 24/7 isn’t healthy for you, or possible. But think about using automated responses on emails and social media, and a personalised voicemail message, so let clients know their message has been received and when they are likely to get a response.

5. Treat your client as you would like to be treated yourself, if your positions were reversed.

I hope this helps you, and would love to know your top tips for customer care. Please post them in the comments box.


Author: is an experienced hypnotherapist and hypnotherapy trainer. She is the author of Their Worlds, Your Words and has co-written the Hypnotherapy Handbook, both of which are available from Amazon.
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