Industry • Perspective
How Virtual Consultations are Transforming the Beauty and Wellness Industry
Nov.07,2023By Boulevard Staff
Virtual consultations could be just what you need to reach new audiences and build your brand
Clients in search of answers to their beauty and wellness questions used to just ask friends or wait for their next appointment with a professional. Then came the era of influencers who went viral with social-media-friendly regimens and trends. Now, thanks to a rapidly developing environment influenced by everything from pandemics to demographics to ubiquitous video-ready devices, the beauty and wellness industry has entered the era of virtual consultation.
Whether you’re a hair salon that’s ready to show clients how to keep their locks luscious in between visits or a medspa looking to lay out treatment plans before clients even set foot in your door, it’s time to start thinking about virtual consultations.
A boon for business, brand, and staff
Maybe they sound a bit futuristic, but virtual consultations aren’t so different from anything your self-care business already does for clients who visit you in person. During a virtual consultation, you answer a client’s questions and help them arrive at the best possible solution for their concerns, typically ending with some recommended services and products that your business can provide.
That said, virtual consultations also open up some new possibilities that are harder to pull off in-person. Here are just a few of the benefits your business can receive from adding virtual consultations to its list of services.
Reach new audiences: Virtual consultations aren’t bound by geography. That means you can share your staff’s expertise with just about anyone, anywhere.
Build your brand: By cementing your brand as part of the expert conversation, you’ll raise the profile of both individual staff members and your business as a whole.
Flexible working options: If staff members have the necessary setup, they could easily handle virtual consultations from wherever. On top of that, since virtual consultations require minimal setup or transitional time, they can be a great complement to other services that would tend to leave blank spaces in your schedule.
How to build virtual consultations into your self-care business
So, we know the benefits. But how should you start offering virtual consultations as part of your business plan? Follow some or all of these strategies to give your team a head start.
Tie them into your services
The easiest way to start planning out your virtual consultations is to tie them directly into the menu of services you already offer. For instance, if you run a nail salon that offers a bounty of different color and tip options, you could offer prospective clients a free virtual consultation where a stylist checks out their nails via webcam and makes some suggestions for styles that would look great on them. Then point this excited new client straight to your self-booking solution as soon as they’re ready to get started.
Make them standalone
Virtual consultations can also be an entirely separate pillar of your business. As we mentioned in the last section, linking clients up with staff online opens up entirely new audiences, and many of those people will inevitably be too far away to want to come in for an in-person follow-up.
Rather than bidding these distant souls a fond farewell and leaving it at that, consider what kinds of virtual consultations you can offer that represent their own standalone value. Think educational sessions that share some (just some!) of the secrets behind your treatments and services so they can repeat them at home, or expert analysis that they can use to have more informed conversations about their needs with their local businesses of choice.
Sell your inventory
Whether they live down the street or across the country, virtual consultations represent another excellent opportunity to match satisfied clients with your range of high-quality products. Use ecommerce integrations to sync your store inventory with your site and your staff will always be able to point clients to exactly the items they need the moment they need them.
You can get creative here by offering to put part of the cost of a paid consultation toward your store — in other words, building in gift cards or other special offers that encourage clients to stay (and spend) in your virtual ecosystem.
Build them into your schedule
If virtual consultations get slotted into schedules like afterthoughts, they’ll end up feeling like, well, afterthoughts. Just like any other part of your business, it’s important to give them the time and resources they require to create the best possible client experiences. For instance, if your backend software supports smart scheduling, create a new category of appointment so staff can easily tell when they should be on cam and ready to charm, then let the system handle the rest.
If you’re new to virtual consultations, ask staff who provide them to be diligent in tracking the time each session takes as well as how much time they felt they actually needed to give the best possible experience. Finding the right balance between excellent service and realistic schedules for your business’ unique offerings is all a matter of practical experience.
Experiment and be unique
One of the best parts about virtual consultations? They don’t require a ton of dedicated resources or specialized training to offer a compelling product. That means you don’t need to be as conservative about what kinds of consultations you try out. As long as you start from the steady foundation of your brand’s values and unique selling points, you can craft all kinds of different experiences to share with clients.
Virtual consultations don’t have to redefine the way you work — after all, there’s no doubt that self-care businesses are at their best when they can get up close and personal with clients. But they can open up new, sustainable ways of helping clients and building interest in your brand. That sounds like a good reason to spend a little more time in front of the old webcam and ring light to us.