Sunday, July 9, 2017

Managing Customer Experience at Your Salon

Many things can go wrong when running a service business like salon. Shining in the service industry is at all times more challenging as compared to the product industry. Management of salon business needs to keep service standards in perspective and customers in the center of the business when it comes to provide exceptional customer experience.

People don’t remember what you said as much as how you made them feel. The vast majority of companies focus their training on the technical with very little on the experimental. For any service business strong practical and operational excellence is important but many times that may go unnoticed by your customers. Very few customers ever call their friends and say, “You wouldn’t believe how clean their restrooms are”, or “everyone was in proper dress code.” However if any of those are not in place, it becomes a “Veto”, and results in customers not returning or providing word-of-mouth. Neither technical nor operational excellence will create brand loyalty the way customer experience excellence will.

It is imperative that every manager is uncompromising about the execution of your standards. Your standards have to be truly non-negotiable. Your employees have to know that they cannot pick and choose, that every standard has to be delivered to every customer. That is why it is very important not to have a dozen standards of every stage of interaction. Keep it realistic to achieve.

Take care of your customers, and they will take care of you. Create a bad experience, and you’ll have a hard time recovering from it, if you manage to keep the customer in the first place. Following are smart strategies that will enhance customer experience at your salon without too much effort.
  • This starts with the moment your customer enters your salon. Customers like to see someone available to greet them and ask if they need any help. Salons often do mistakes in scheduling appointments. If there’s a problem with the appointment, apologize in a proper way and offer options to accommodate the customer. In my recent visit to a popular beauty school in Pasadena, the receptionist told me that I was scheduled for 12th rather than 7th. And said “Since you are here, I will sign you in...” It sounded to me like a favor on me however it was their mistake in scheduling on wrong date. Later at the end of visit when I was ready to pay she found that the person scheduled on 12th was Sima Patel, and My name was Seema Parween. So it was something she did not pay attention to and had made me wait for 45 minutes.
  • Make sure staff is available to people when they need them. If the salon is overbooked or is running late to accommodate an appointment, then inform your client in advance and offer them with free extra services or a discounted rate when they come in next time. Show your customers you value them and don’t just look to make business. Inform your customers on how much time it will take for the haircut or facial and make sure to provide service effectively within that time. Don’t be in a hurry either, to quickly serve the customer and move on to a new one. Every customer is an asset to the business and should be served sincerely.
  • Customers don’t like rushing into getting a spa treatment or a haircut without putting thought into it. It’s not just about the cost, but also the impact a treatment will have on them. Say will the red or shot hair suit them? Is an exfoliating body scrub the right choice for their skin type? Give your clients the time and attention they are looking for and patiently try to understand what their requirements are. This will help your client gain trust on you and help you provide better customer service since you will know what the client is looking for and how to deliver it right! Make sure you ask your client all the questions and queries they have, and give them a rough idea about how it will all be carried out. Your customers must feel comfortable and at ease while getting the service from your beauty salon.
  • Make sure the beauty specialist knows her job well. If your business is a beauty school, the teachers must be professional. They should look professional and talk professionally. This is what your students will learn from them. A beauty specialist should know what she is doing. For example a hair stylist should know her work well and be updated on what trends are in fashions. Also he or she should know how to take directions from the customer and produce work which the customer is satisfied with and not only what the stylist thinks looks good. Staff shouldn’t talk unnecessarily with the customer, sharing their problems or work gossip. They don’t want to be let in on your issues or become friends, they are primarily there to forget their problems and have a nice experience.
  • Offer knowledge – don’t push your products and services. Instead, educate customers so they can choose for themselves, with their own needs in mind, rather than pressuring anyone to buy. In most of my visits for review, I notice that specialist just offer some products to me without telling me exactly how that product can help me. As a specialist you should also ask my opinion about what I am looking for in a product. 
  • Say thank you – your customers need to feel valued and appreciated. Never tell your customers that your service was cheaper than other places unless the customers say it’s pricey. It does not look good if you say that “today the service was only $79.00.” Customers like to hear you thanking for the business they have given you. Customers have a hundred choices to go to when it comes to salons, because the market is filled with them. 
Beyond increasing the chances of repeat business, an exceptional customer experience can turn customers into promoters who will recommend the company to others. Sell the experience to customers rather than service or product. You customers will come back to your business with more business.