A successful consultation is the foundation of any aesthetic treatment. In order to achieve client satisfaction, the practitioner must first understand what the client wishes to achieve. Without determining what the individual’s hopes and expectations are, it is impossible to ascertain if their expectations are realistic, and if the desired outcome is achievable.
There are many critical assessments that need to take place in a successful consultation, but I find the two most fundamental ones are:
- Clients goals and expectations from treatment – are they realistic?
- Client suitability (suitability does not equal treatment success - it is helpful for clients to be aware of this)
There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ for consultations. Although there are basic points which need to be covered – introduction, assessment of the area, discussion of likely outcomes, etc. – they don’t always follow a linear format.
When a client attends for a consultation, it is likely to be their first time visiting your clinic or practice and meeting you as a practitioner. It is important to consider the potential of nerves in your client’s presentation at the clinic. Some clients can be rude or inappropriate at the consultation, and this often hides nerves, embarrassment or shame. It is obviously important to assess how emotionally charged your client consultation is for them as an individual, and in light of this it may be beneficial to gain some basic counselling skills in order to put your client at ease and promote a professional and holistic relationship.
Once introductions have been completed, it is useful to ascertain exactly what your client wishes to achieve. If this step is overlooked, then you may find that you are talking with your client about a treatment or result that may not be realistic or appropriate. Establishing a rapport with your client is paramount to ensuring a professional relationship, and will enable them to open up and talk honestly to you about their concerns.
Some clients will expect miracles, whilst others will be happy that there may be an improvement following treatment. It is important to explain to clients that there is – as with everything in life – no guarantee of success, and that there are a small percentage of individuals who will not respond satisfactorily to treatment. It can appear very ‘doom and gloom’ and this is why establishing a connection with your client and approaching them holistically will benefit both you and your client in completing a successful consultation and treatment. If your client is fully aware of the facts, risks and benefits before treatment then any results will be positively reviewed rather than feeling they were not as good as expected or ‘promised’.
On this note, it is worth considering clients whose expectations are incongruent with the presenting complaint. For example, the client that attends devastated about unsightly leg veins and on examination nothing can be seen. It can be easy to quickly label these clients as having body dysmorphia (BDD) – and without doubt, working in aesthetics will bring clients like this to your door.
However, that doesn’t always mean that these clients are unsuitable, and this is where the waters become murky. If there is no abnormality, defect or disorder there to be ‘fixed’ then obviously treatment is not appropriate. But if this client wishes to enhance, for example, their skin, then appropriate treatment may be recommended. The difficulty lies in meeting their expectations, and this therefore is dependent on discussing this prior to commencing treatment.
Our job as practitioners is not only to deliver safe and effective treatments competently – but to continually communicate effectively throughout all treatments and plans, to ensure your clients continual satisfaction.
After ascertaining your client’s expectations from treatment, it is then important to assess their suitability. This is often entwined with their expectations, and will be discussed in part along the course of any consultation. This will be discussed further in the next blog, including coercion of treatment and vulnerable adults.
Part 2 of this blog is available here - Cosmetic Consultations Part 2: Client suitability for treatment