5 Customer Service Tips for Difficult Clients
By: Kerri Lee
These days clients are more sensitive than ever, and they expect the very best for their money. Customer service is critical and that old adage, “The customer is always right,” has never been truer. Especially if you want to keep them coming back and referring their friends! Let’s face it; some clients are easier than others, so here are five ways to make sure that love is always in the air…and in the hair.
1. Go Team! How well is your team connecting with your clients? In order to perform at your highest level of excellence, everyone needs to have “customer service on the brain” at all times. If your culture values sturdy relationships with your clients, infectious energy can be felt throughout the salon. Not only does your team need to have the technical skills to pay the bills, the members need to possess empathy so that they know when a client is in need of a little extra attention and TLC. They also need to be crafty and creative problem-solvers and have the ability to read the emotions of everyone walking through the door.
Team Building Exercise: Once a week, create a “scenario” and role-play with each team member to see how they handle the situation. Offer advice and reward the best “actor” with a prize. This competition will not only be educational, it will encourage everyone to step up their games.
2. Negative Nellys – You may never understand as why people who say they’ll never come back to your salon continue coming back. It’s as though they relish misery and complaining and they know you’ll take it. What you won’t take is people who make your staff miserable. As the salon owner and/or manager, arrange a one-on-one with Miss Poutypants and find out what’s bothering her. Maybe she can’t stand the attire of your receptionist, the colorist’s perfume or the wobbly styling chair she’s been sitting in for the past nine months. There could be a valid underlying issue you may be unaware of. You might want to take her do the posh little café next door and get to the bottom of things. And guess what? You can write that lunch off as a business expense!
3. Getting to Know You – In order to tap into the brains and emotions of your clients, you need to get to know them and what’s going on in their lives. Maybe Jan’s husband lost his job and she’s had to pick up a third job…which is why she’s hard to please. Martha may seem like a surly lady in her seventies but perhaps her kids are so busy that she doesn’t feel needed and wanted. Don’t just wash, cut and style your clients. If you take the time to get to know them it will be easier to meet their needs. Maybe the reason they’re difficult is that they don’t feel valued and understood.
4. Shout it Out Loud – It’s been about 20 minutes and you’re still getting your ear chewed off by a new customer who is unhappy with her color. Remember that she’s not yelling at you. She is yelling at the salon. Don’t take it personally and keep your cool. The only thing that’s going to agitate her is you interrupting her. Let her get it off her chest before you present a solution. When you do present a solution, speak with sincerity and a soothing tone. Don’t raise your voice. Keep your cool and display a high level of empathy even if you don’t agree with her. If she’s making a scene at the front desk, ask her to follow you to your office or a room where the door can be shut. Tell her you want to give her your undivided attention and not be interrupted by other customers or your staff. Never, EVER call her “ma’am” and address her by either her first name or by her formal name. This displays respect, and it will make her feel heard and seen.
5. Follow-Up: Once you have presented a solution to the customer’s crisis, follow-up to make sure she’s satisfied. If she comes in for a corrective service, stop by the station and watch the progress. If you had to refund her money, contact her 10 days later and ask if the credit card company has successfully removed the charge from her account. Send her a handwritten note apologizing and asking for a second chance. Sure, you may not want her business, but this will make you look like the better person and help prevent her from trash-talkin’ your business around town.
Helpful Hint: When an issue does arise, it is important to keep your staff in check and their tongues in line. Do not allow anyone in the salon to discuss unruly clients with their regulars, especially on the floor. This is not the appropriate time or place for them to swap stories. Remember, it’s a small world and you never know who is listening.
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