The following is an email exchange between me and a onetime client. It is posted with permission of my client and edited to remove any personal or identifying details. I wanted to post it because I think this client's comments and criticism are probably quite common and worth thinking about. I would invite anyone visiting my site to read them and consider both them and my response to them.
Hello Andrew, Thanks for the massage today, I do feel some relief and I can move more freely. I thought I would take a few minutes to provide some feedback regarding the experience.
-Massage was decent, perhaps a little slow and not as deep as I would have hoped. overall I would give a score of 7/10 for the massage quality. -The breathing that you ask me to do during the massage did not feel very helpful. -The biggest concern I have regarding the massage is that you spent the first 8-10 minutes of the massage asking me questions about my expectations and areas that I wanted massaged....this is great that you spent some time to do it but I was not impressed that it was part of the massage time. You charge a premium price for the 60 minute massage yet you only actually massaged me for 45-50 minutes. If I am paying for a 60 minute massage I want a 60 minute massage. Cut the chit chat or plan to get me in earlier to do the chit chat assessment time.....you were at the desk working on the computer when I came in and I was 10 minutes early so there was plenty of time to do that then. I speak for most people who come for a massage that we are watching that clock as much as you are and we as customers want the quality and quantity that we are paying for. In your defense I realize that you need to gather info to make sure you are doing the right massage and making sure that you have all of the info needed to provide a safe massage but I feel that it needs to be more brief and not part of the 60 minute massage. If you want to talk to your clients lots then you should advertise a 50 minute massage and 10 minute assessment time. -$78 for an hour massage is pretty steep.
I realize this feedback is blunt and to the point but I feel that in order to gain we need to be honest with people....I would expect it and encourage it from my clients.
Thanks again for the massage.
What follows is my response.
Thank you for your thoughtful feedback.
Working with you today was interesting. I was serious in my assessment in the end. Regardless, I don't discredit the possibility that my work today may simply have not been deep enough to provide you with the relief you were looking for.
As far as what is part of the massage time, you may have noticed I also spent time after the massage talking about what I found and my assessment of how our work went. You're right you were ten minutes early, something I do appreciate and time I would have happily spent on the interview portion had I not been using that time. Working by appointment is limiting in that I can only guarantee every client the time they have booked in for. I often spend more time than the booked in amount with my client, gathering information, discussing results (or lack thereof), giving stretches or talking about exercises both before and after, but only when that time is afforded me.
I think it is a misunderstanding of what a massage is to think it is merely the time spent literally touching or being touched. Though you may not agree, I think the time I spend during the assessment is of no less value than the time I spend physically working with my clients. Because I sincerely enjoy my work, and not because I don't think time spent not physically touching my clients is extraneous to my work, I often spend extra time with my clients both before and after our booked in time when extra time is available. This extra time I don't consider myself paid for. I consider myself paid for the time my clients book in with me. I am glad you felt that our work today provided you with some benefit.
This brief exchange highlights an interesting difference in how massage therapy is valued and considered by different perspectives. Though by no means is either position fully developed, nor do I think I could totally accurately elaborate what foundations this position is made from. Rather than comment too heavily just now, I'll leave this exchange as is for consideration.