My article Spa Key Performance Indicators: Which Spa KPIs should Spa Managers know? is one of the top 3 most read articles on my website.

Let’s add another important KPI today.

Response Time affects customer satisfaction

To understand how response time can affect customer satisfaction immediately, we need to understand how customer satisfaction occurs. I love the GAP Model, as it simplifies the complex construct of customer satisfaction.

response time Anja Eva Keller Petruccelli TalkWellness

Connected to the 5-gap-model, there are the 5 dimensions to customer satisfaction, as identified by researchers Parasuraman, Zeitlham and Berry.
Those 5 dimensions describe exactly those areas, that are most important to guests when evaluating services. They have an immediate impact on quality perceptions. The first and most important dimension is reliability, meaning to deliver what has been promised.


response time Anja Eva Keller Petruccelli TalkWellness

In second place comes the dimension ‘responsiveness’, which I find well worthy talking about today.

Dimension Response Time

Response Time is the willingness to help the spa guest and to deliver immediate service. Reliably and to full extent! It is simply not ok to wait a day before answering the guest’s email. Although guests themselves do not always react immediately (for example to an offer by a business), they still expect the business to do so.

Service Level Agreements SLA

The term “Service Level Agreement”, describes the (explicit oder implied) agreement between client (spa guest) and service provider (spa business). It is kind of an interface between the two parties for recurring services. Measurable control mechanism become transparent to the guest. Often these control mechanisms for example include
‘guarantees’, such as the delivery of a service within a certain time frame or other measurable components of a service, such as the duration of a treatment.

Any promise a business gives its customers is part of their Service Level Agreement. I think about ‘the perfect Sauna infusion’, ‘largest pool’, ‘our qualified staff’, ‘heated outdoor pool’ etc.
Those are descriptions of service levels and spectrum.

Service providers prove service excellency by defining their very own internal service level agreements. And this includes response time, for example

  • how long before emails have to be answered?
  • what is the time span before a phone call is answered?
  • is the response to spa guests at the spa reception desk fast and empathetic?

And this includes not only external (customer directed) communication, but also internal communication within the company and the team. it is important to spa guests that service providers react promptly, not only in emergencies. But always, even for seemingly small or profane requests.

response time Anja Eva Keller Petruccelli TalkWellness

The guest is a source of irritation

Spa Guests must never feel as source of irritation to staff members. Unfortunately this happens all too often. Besides looking after spa guests, members of staff usually have other duties that keep them busy. They do not simply sit and wait for a spa guest to have a request. And of course they need to perform all of their duties, hence a spa guest with a request may be seen as a source of irritation.

I have a few examples, how I have experienced those kind of situations myself in the role of spa guest:

Case 1: First come, first serve?

I was standing at a spa reception, ready to book a treatment. The receptionist had just offered me two options, when her phone rang. With the words ‘give me a second’ she answered the phone. Another guest on the phone also wanted to book a treatment. The ‘second’ turned out to be a 15 min phone conversation. While I had to wait.

Case 2: Email-Nirvana

I communicate often by email with Spas and Hotels. Typically I receive replies the next day (more so from Spa Reservations or Receptions), in the best case the same day (more so from Hotel Reservations). I think though that best practise demands for answering all requests the same day.

Particularly in today’s times, where communication is much faster in general. Real Time, online shopping 24/7, online booking, chatbots, and news services make the exchange of information possible in seconds.

And it is totally fine to merely confirm the reception of a request, and promise a detailed answer shortly. At least for more complex requests.

Total NO-GO: automatically generated email replies during office hours!

All other incoming requests concerning the regular business scope must be handled immediately. My rule of thumb for email replies is

5* – max 2-3 h time lapse before reply

4* – reply same work day, max 6 h

Case 3: Simply leave out your annoyance to the guest!

I arrived at a spa reception, when the receptionist was busy typing on her computer. As I did not want to disturb her mid-sentence, I waited patiently in her range of vision. After a few minutes of hectic hacking on her keyboard, the receptionist asks me without looking up at me ‘can I do something for you?’.

When introducing myself I report, that I had a booking for the same day. After a longer period of time with no reaction from the receptionist (she kept working on her computer), she finally answered rather abrupt and not very friendly.

My empathy for her having seemingly been busy with an unpleasant or frustrating task is genuine. Yet it is entirely unacceptable to let her poor emotions out on the guest. Which means: it is not only about the ‘how long’, but also about the ‘how empathetic’.

response time Anja Eva Keller Petruccelli TalkWellness

Measuring Response Time

Call Centres for example track waiting times of their callers. Any service provider could evaluate their internal service level agreements such as response time. 

  • number of requests per channel

    (how much work is generated through the different channels, for example phone or email). Any service provider needs to understand how many incoming request occur per channel. Only this enables the business to plan for meaningful opening times or staff scheduling.
  • availability

    per channel (the higher availability is, the better): many of the modern phone systems provide real time reports. These tell you how many calls were answered, how many callers have hung up, how long did callers have to wait for the call to be answered, etc.
  • lengths of a call and handling time

    (Average Handling Time) includes handling after the call (for example the actual booking in the system, or an email confirmation to the client) and helps with manning. In our industry, where services have to be explained in great detail, the quality of consultations and sales communication is very important. At the same time, they should be efficient!
    I have a great example: I wrote an email request to a hotel for a hotel room. After only very few hours I received a phone call from reservations. The caller referred back to my email and said “I thought I would call you real quick, this way we can easily answer all your questions. This is so much more convenient than sending emails back and forth, isn’t it.”  I thought that was awesome! So here we also define the number of emails and calls per request.
  • occupancy:We are not talking about occupancy of service providers only. This is about occupancy of spa reception, reservation and sales. On the one side, we want our members of staff to have high occupancy (and hopefully high productivity), on the other side we want our spa guests to receive the best possible care. Occupancy of reservations may give you a hint to the occupancy in the treatment rooms.Example: many small businesses cannot or do not want to employ unlimited numbers of spa receptionists. Sometimes you may see a sign at the spa reception with the words “Dear guests, we are currently in treatments. Please leave your contact and booking request and we will get back to you as soon as possible…”  This is the very interesting case where we want to measure, if a faster response at the spa reception leads to higher occupancy in the treatment area. How many prospects give up? How many leads are lost?


High accessibility and short waiting times do not say much about the actual quality of a rendered service. Or how well the rendered service matches guest’s expectations about the service. That is why the remaining dimensions as described in the graphic above remain equally important and must not be neglected. I will be talking about those in more detail soon.

spa star classification system Anja Eva Keller Petruccelli TalkWellness

Response time as key performance indicator

Response Time is an important quality measure for Spa & Wellness Services. The appropriate amount of time in a response has massive impact on customer satisfaction. So for me, response time is one of the most important KPIs in Spa & Wellness Businesses.

Anja Eva Keller Spa & Wellness Consulting