Have you ever walked into an establishment and had terrible customer service? For example, you walk into a restaurant, and it takes an hour to get seated. When you finally get a seat, you wait another 20 minutes before the server comes over to take your drink order. The server is snarky and has a bad attitude. The table you were seated at is still dirty. How does that make you feel? What is your impression of the restaurant you are in? Will you be coming back? How does this behavior affect the server’s tip? We’ve all had bad customer service experiences. This same concept holds true of your salon. How does it look? Is it dirty? Torn magazines, upswept hair, front desk cluttered with soda cans and food wrappers? Are clients greeted with a smile when they walk in? Is the client still waiting past their appointment time while stylists chatting in the back trying to finish their story from last night’s escapades? For every bad encounter we have, we will tell ten people; for every good experience we may only tell two.
In each instance, customer service is sacrificed, and future business is lost. Customer service is not just being friendly. It’s really about creating an experience that makes the client want to return again and again. How can you make sure your clients always feel special? Here are some simple customer service tips you can apply to your business today.
1. Personalize Your Work
This is the most important element of your customer service. Your rapport sets the framework for your client/stylist relationship, but if you can’t deliver more than a cookie-cutter haircut, then your value to the client is questionable. Through the consultation, you should quickly be able to create a service plan that will address what each particular client wants and what will work best to tailor the style to their needs. Think to yourself—what can I do for my guest that will stand out and keep them from them going to another salon?
2. Hear the Client
To personalize your work, you must really listen to your client. Your client consultation is critical here. Don’t just talk Susie into a style or technique because you’re comfortable with it or you’re dying to try it. Remove your preferences from the equation and hear what Susie prefers. Help her to identify what she wants if she’s unsure how to explain it. Listen to what the client is saying and repeat back what you think you heard them say. The worst thing you can do is not confirm what is heard, go ahead with the service, and have it end up not being what they truly wanted.
3. Pay Attention to Details
Sometimes it’s the little things that make-or-break relationships. Did the guest mention their hair is feeling dry? Offer a deep conditioning treatment to help with that problem. Did they mention that at the last salon they visited they felt as though they were rushed? These are cues to take a few extra minutes to understand and communicate with them what they want.
Take the time to walk through the salon as if you were the client. Pay attention to the tiniest details—do the shampoo bottles have gunk built up on them? Are the towels stained? Do you have chipped paint on the walls? Are the station mirrors cloudy or dusty? Your attention to detail tells the client you care about their experience.
4. Be Present
Clear your mind before every appointment. This task is as important to your preparation as sweeping up from the previous client. Ground yourself, meditate, or simply find a moment of silence to shake off the previous client and prepare to help the next. (Note: Be wary of double- and triple-booking for this particular reason. Overbooking your capacity to focus on each individual client will hurt your customer service.)
5. Personalize the Experience
Just as you must personalize each client’s hair, it’s also important to personalize the experience. Would they like a coffee or tea or sparkling water? Maybe let them play with product samples while they wait for their appointment. Or how about offering them a hot towel to put on their face while getting that great massaging shampoo? These things tell your client they are the most important person in that moment.
6. Educate the Client
With each makeover, explain not only the process and products you intend to use, but also the results, maintenance, and ballpark pricing. Take the time to teach your clients how to style their new hair so they can enjoy it every day. Make sure to tell them about the products needed for their style, and always offer continued education: Say, “Feel free to give me a call if you have any questions or concerns,” or “I will give you a call in a few days to follow up with you on your new products.” Our clients come to us because we are the professionals. Something as small as how to properly shampoo their hair is a small step toward providing great customer service.
7. Make It Easy
No one wants to work too hard to spend their money. If you don’t accept credit cards, you should. Don’t offer online booking? Why not? These are simple ways to make life easier for clients. Before the client leaves, ask when (not if) they wants to rebook, or offer to call them in two weeks for rescheduling. Your clients want an EASY button; give it to them.
If you’ve done your job right, your client has only positive, special memories of their experience with you. They will tell others what a great service they just had, and they may even create a Facebook post about it. Even better will be when they pick up the phone and schedules their next appointment!