How to deliver excellence service, from massage to consulting

I love massage in Thailand. Since I enjoy it so much, I never ask myself why I like it, question its authenticity; or even link it to my job. During my latest trip to Chiang Mai, the massage experience gave me a good lesson about service.

Before my latest trip, all my experience toward Thai massage was the same. The iconic Spa normally would be located in peaceful place with gentle music, nice young female masseuses wearing traditional Thai cloth. Price difference normally comes from location rather than skill of masseuses; take Chiang Mai as an example, it could cost you 500-700 THB per hour in a down-town spa with good ranking from TripAdvisor, or 1200-1500 THB per hour in a resort located in mountain area (where you cannot easily find another option). In my last trip to Chiang Mai, while biking in mountainous areas, we happened to find a resort charging only 400 THB for 2-hour traditional Thai massage. We get the booking for the following-day.

The massage turned out to a journey with quite a lot of surprises. It’s purely massage in an old-fashioned cottage room without music, dessert, and tea. Masseuses actually treat our body very “serious”, using their whole body to do restorative yoga. It helped me understand what authentic or traditional Thai massage really is. We got additional charge for the room half day; because the receptionist thought we planned to stay one night. Even my body felt quite relaxing after the 2 hour, my husband and I agreed that we would not come again, even it’s pure, authentic, cheap Thai Massages.

An idea came to mind at the time of payment:

Good spa is not just about how good the massage itself is, but more about the holistic feeling the customers enjoy.

Well, it’s exactly the same for consulting. Consulting service is about dealing with people and solving people’s problem; excellent service does not just come from knowledgeable and intelligent experts. Those “soft” elements always play a very important part to ensure customer satisfaction – how to give customer the feeling that they are being served and how to help them feel great from the very beginning to the end?

Here is a simplified-version of comparing.

Massage to consulting

Quality of the solution

  • Thai Massage: profession skillsets of masseuses are important, but it’s not the only element to help customers enjoy a spa; authenticity may not be acceptable by all.
  • Consulting Service: a well-designed solution may not be fit-for-purpose; knowledgeable consultants cannot guarantee customer’s satisfaction.

Quality of the communication

  • Thai Massage: understand what customers want and scope the package.
  • Consulting Service: get alignment for customer expectation at the very beginning and along the journey

Customer experience of being served

  • Thai Massage: tea, desert, nice music which allow customers to feel being served.
  • Consulting Service: handle the emotional needs (e.g. urgency, anger, frustrated, worries) and manage the relationship with the customers.

Easiness to access the service:

  • Thai Massage: close to hotel, resort or downtown; providing picking up service.
  • Consulting Service: customers can easily get support when they need it.

It’s difficult to give black-and-white weight to different aspect to massages; somehow customers would still calculate unconsciously and make an easy choice, like me and my husband.

For consulting service, customers do not have such luxury to make an easy choice to decide which vendors to choose, but I believe customers would rank the service eventually and it would matter for long-term.

It’s never too late to understand the essence of customer service.

(Originally posted in 2015 and updated in 2018)

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