Client Intake Interview - As A Massage Therapist
How Well Do YOU Communicate?
In a Client Intake Interview learn to pay attention to your massage clients, supply superior customer service and ...
... increase your re-booking percentage in your massage business!
"What Is A Client Intake Interview?"
My definition: This is the time right before the massage session when I'm alone with the client in the massage room reviewing their intake form.
A recent discussion about intake forms got me thinking about my client intake interview proceedure. With my clients, especially new clients, I spend at least ten minutes (if not more) in discussion with them prior to the massage session.
Aside from the usual medical and massage conversation, I always ask how their day is, evaluate their mood, etc., etc.
It wasn't always like this though...
For several years I thought all my magic was to be performed on the massage table. I would rush through initial paperwork, get a quick idea of what the client was looking for, then on to the massage!
After awhile I began to engage my clients more thoroughly. I was missing many opportunities, a couple of which I'll discuss here.
The first lesson from a client intake interview was a reduction in stress.
The more completely I filled out my notes on a client, spent time reviewing their intake form and just plain LISTENING to the client, I then knew exactly what they wanted.
You see, clients of mine expect me to remember (or at least review their previous client intake interview notes) and know why they are here receiving a massage from me. It’s quite stressful when I was in the middle of a massage still trying to figure out what 'Mary' was really here for. "Is Mary the client with pain and stiffness in her right shoulder, or was that Angela??"
Self-depreciation then enters my mind. "Darn, I knew I should have taken better notes, listened better." Getting down on myself in the middle of a massage is never a good idea.
If I deliver exactly what the client wants, this makes for superior customer service. How I do this is by copious note taking and listening to the clients.
Here are a couple of tips I use to create the ideal setting for a client intake interview:
I've found two secrets to making virtually any client intake interview as interesting and productive as it can possibly be. The first thing I do is use the meeting to practice being 'present moment oriented.'
In other words, I attempt to absorb myself in the meeting - not allowing my mind to wander. This deliberate attempt to be focused allows me to get as much value out of the experience as possible. After all, I'm there anyway. I can spend the time wishing the client is on the massage table already, or, I can practice being truly present, a really good listener. This helps me be highly responsive to whatever is being discussed.
Since I've been doing this, I've found that the intake meetings are far more interesting. Additional insights come to mind, and I feel as though I have more to offer, both in conversation and in the massage session.
I've also noticed an increased sense of respect for others.
Clients may even not be consciously aware of it, but it seems that when they sense that you are truly listening, they want to listen to you as well. There is a powerful sense of well-deserved trust that comes across when you are truly present. Clients are drawn to you energy and presence.
The second commitment I have made regarding meetings is to tell myself that I'm going to learn something new from each intake meeting and client. (Even if the client has been obtaining my massage services for years).
So, I listen intently to what is being said, trying to hear something I don't already know.
In other words, rather than comparing what I’m hearing to what I already believe – or agreeing or disagreeing in my mind to what is being said – I'm searching for new wisdom, a new insight, or a new way of doing something.
Example of a good client intake interview:
I think to myself, "Mary has a new ache and pain in her lower back. Perhaps I should adjust my massage to fit this situation with this technique or that technique".
After listening to Mary's comments, I can also think of a more appropriate response to her as I was listening completely. This keeps me away from those reactionary replies, that at times, don’t come out quite right. Yes, we've all done it ;)
I've found that when my intent is to learn, I almost always do learn. Instead of thinking to myself, "Yeah, yeah, I already know this stuff," I try to clear my mind and allow myself to have a beginner's mind.
The results have been quite impressive and significant.
My learning curve has dramatically increased, and intake meetings have become fun again. I've learned to make the best of it. The way I look at it is this: I'm in the intake meeting anyway. Why not spend the time in a productive, healthy way practicing valuable emotional skills instead of wishing I was already half way through the massage session? To do so makes my work life more interesting and effective.
One last take-away I've learned from all of this in regards to a great client intake interview:
Listening carefully and taking accurate notes makes for superior customer service, thus, an increased re-scheduling percentage.
How so, Kris?
When you pay attention to their wants and then deliver, it's superior customer service. Obviously this will make the clients prefer your massage services over another therapist.
When you listen carefully during the client intake interview and then write down exactly what clients say, you can then use their own words to market to them in the future.
If you send thank you cards to your clients, you can then add a: P.S. Mary, how is that knot in your shoulder coming along? Is it time for another massage session?
If for some reason Mary hasn't been in for awhile you can send her a mailer. The headline can read:
Mary, Is That Knot In Your Right Shoulder Still Causing You Pain?
This demonstrates that you are paying attention and they may even think you're a mind reader!
If we can use their exact working it works wonders, and this is the secret to a good client intake interview!
P.S. Hold on a minute! Did I forget to mention exit interviews or comments made after the massage session? Nope. Sheesh...I'm slipping!
Now obviously some clients are in a hurry to move on with their lives, so do what you can to get them to re-schedule with you.
If you have time, as the massage therapist, and the client doesn't seem to be in a hurry, ask how the massage was. Ask what the rest of their day entails. LISTEN and LEARN more about your clients!
When I get time I'll tell you exactly what to say to get clients to re-schedule with you!
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