Is customer service a top concern coming out of a COVID lockdown? In the salon and spa industry, yes!
Customer service is essential. As a service industry, customer satisfaction is the cornerstone of the business. However, in today’s pandemic-focused society, a salon’s customer service efforts naturally come in second to safety.
Everyone’s coming out of a three-month quarantine looking particularly unkempt. But that’s not going to stop the masses from booking their favorite salons and spas for their usual hair cuts, color, etc.
As salon and spa professionals, how do we provide the level of customer service our clients expect and deserve? And, how do we do it while balancing all of the safety guidelines and restrictions for opening and staying in business?
First, we must define customer service. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the term is defined as:
The way that an organization deals with customers before, during, and after a sale, and the activities involved in dealing with customers:
The source also goes on to state:
The fact of treating customers in a polite and helpful way, which is considered an important part of running a good business.
In the current situation, we must ask ourselves, “What is good customer service, and how do we achieve it while balancing everyone’s health and safety?” Ultimately, what does excellent customer service mean?
To help in your quest for answers, we provided ten easy salon customer service tips as it relates to the normal, courtesy of COVID-19.
10 Easy Salon Customer Service Tips
Salon Customer Service Tip #1: Be Sympathetic
Try to keep your client’s situation and perspective in mind. Be sympathetic to their plight, as one never really knows what someone is going through. Some people are perfectly content holed up at home either alone or with family. However, for others, loneliness or the thought of being caged up at home alone or otherwise is highly disparaging. Be patient, understanding, and, above all, kind.
Although the pandemic has hit all of us hard, try to understand that your clients may have suffered as well. Not just financially, but emotionally. They have been without beauty and grooming services for several months. To many people, that can be detrimental to their well-being. People are also likely eager for some level of human connection and pampering. They crave the contact, even if it’s through a mask or gloved hand.
Besides, isn’t it our job to help make them look and feel better about themselves?
As a service provider, you are a caretaker and even a relationship manager to some level. You are invited into your clients’ inner circle and are often thought of as a close friend, confidant, or therapist. They tell you more than they discuss with their families. It’s your sincere devotion to them and your amazing people skills that they gravitate toward more than anything else.
Let’s take that responsibility seriously and step up to do our part in helping others heal.
Salon Customer Service Tip #2: Make Information Easily Available
We’d all like to believe that our clients realize that things will not be the same for a while. We hope that they are mostly happy about the opportunity to look and feel better about themselves. But, how can they know what to expect in this new beauty experience unless you educate them?
It’s important to make everyone aware of the current situation. Help people comprehend what the restrictions and guidelines are for reopening. That way, your clients know what to expect during their appointment and what their customer service experience will be.
Start by outlining what you are required to do by your state or local government. Let clients know how important the guidelines are and what’s at stake for you and them. That way, they will be more accepting of what you are up against.
Send a communication to your clients via mass email or text with the guidelines that apply to them succinctly laid out. Reiterate the top concerns on their appointment confirmation. For example, they must wait in the car until texted, facemasks are a must-have, no additional people or pets at the appointment, etc. Walk them through what their experience in the salon will be like.
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Salon Customer Service Tip #3: Conduct Pre-Visit Consultations
For your regular clients, consider doing a virtual pre-appointment consultation. Did they want to try anything new with their hair, nails, or skin treatment? Would they be open to a different cut, color, or texture, perhaps?
Now might be the time that they are more open to your suggestions. Offer your advice when appropriate and make recommendations that are best for your client. For hair, you’d naturally consider their length, density, condition, and texture. However, these days you’ll need to keep their lifestyle in mind. Take into consideration any recent changes due to the epidemic, or otherwise.
The beauty of doing early consultations is that it will help make the
booking process that much more accurate. The new customer service normal in some areas dictates that salon professionals cannot double book. The client must stay in the same chair the entire service. So, no more applying color, scooting the client over to another chair or section, and sliding in a quick men’s cut. With that in mind, special requests can really throw a beauty professional off.
For what little time is available to book, clients must be accurately booked. Also, encourage clients to arrive on time. Otherwise, someone at the end of the day will get bumped. And, that’s the worst kind of customer service!
Salon Customer Service Tip #4: Optimize Your Client Bookings
If your team can make salon or spa appointments on an individual basis, that’s great. However, based on the volume of people trying to schedule, you may wish to consider online scheduling.
Online scheduling is especially useful for regular clients who know what services they are looking to get. Consider inviting, or even incentivizing, them to book for themselves online. Just be sure you block out any of the services that your salon cannot currently offer, like blow-drying. Another tip is to schedule in a buffer between clients for deep cleaning.
In addition to relieving pressure from your staff, getting people to book online will also allow them to reserve hair products for their next visit. They’ll take comfort in knowing that it’s held aside for them without the bottles being over-handled. Before handing off any retail product, take a few moments to disinfect.
Salon Customer Service Tip #5: Make Check-in Easy
Don’t be afraid to question your current check-in process.
Is it easy? Safe? If not, come up with a better way of checking clients in.
Ask clients to check-in via text when they arrive for their appointment and to wait in their car (or outside) until called into the salon or spa. It may feel a bit impersonal, but if you explain that it is for their safety, they will most likely understand.
For Rosy or SalonRunner users, utilize the Curbside Check-in feature already built into your software.
When you’re ready for your client, text them to come inside. Make it a friendly text, letting them know that you’re ready for them, and looking forward to seeing them. For the ultimate customer service, try to personalize the message as much as possible.
Since most salons have to abide by limited salon capacity, you may not always have a receptionist on the clock. Whether your salon is limiting the use of receptionists during business hours or not, be ready to greet your customer as they walk in the door. Be the first to go in for an elbow bump and/or initiate eye contact versus offering a hug. Then, lead them to your workstation for the actual service.
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Salon Customer Service Tip #6: Be Aware of First Impressions
Although you don’t want to bombard your clients with DOs and DON’Ts, it is wise to have a friendly reminder as they walk in.
Consider simple signage that states or illustrates the requirements: face masks or other protective gear, limited communication when people are not able to social distance, etc. This signage will make it easier to enforce rules for the occasional client who forgets or refuses to abide.
Here are some resources for customer service signage and social media posts:
Aside from the protective gear and signage, try to make your client’s first impression walking in a positive one. It should be clean and inviting, without looking too sterile.
Also, consider replacing products with plants and flower arrangements if you’ve removed or limited access to your retail. That will keep your reception area looking more friendly.
Salon Customer Service Tip #7: Customer Service in Your Chair (or Treatment Room)
According to a Market Watch article geared toward consumers, getting (one’s) hair done will be a lonelier, quieter experience for the time being. However, that does not mean that customer service has to take a back seat to safety measures. There are other ways to make your clientele feel good about themselves and their experience in your store.
Hopefully, you’ve done a pre-visit consultation, so you can get right to the service itself. Just keep your client’s comfort on par with your safety efforts.
Balancing everything may be stressful, but keep their feelings in mind. These are uncharted waters, and some people may have mixed emotions about it.
The best advice is to stay in the moment with your client. Eye contact in the mirror, a gentle touch as you cut or color their hair, your gloved hand on their shoulder, etc. There is no way to completely social distance in this situation, but these simple touches can go a long way.
As a salon owner, it may be especially challenging for you to keep your full attention on the client in front of you. On a typical day in the salon or spa, you may be asked to make decisions, deal with situations, and oversee all safety and disinfecting efforts. Try to set aside time to do these things when there isn’t a client in your chair. It takes away from the customer service experience. Right now, you want to make the most of their time in the salon/spa, and help them feel special.
Salon Customer Service Tip #8: Suds and Such in Silence
Be mindful of contact and adhering to the no-talk protocols during services like facials, brow/lash treatment, facial waxing, and shampooing. In such circumstances, the service provider and the client are breathing in the same general area—a big no-no in the case of COVID.
So, how do you make your client’s experience a customer service win?
During the service, all communication should be carefully orchestrated. For example, a thumbs up when things are good, or when the answer is “yes”. And raising a hand, versus a thumbs down, when the answer is “no” or special attention is needed.
At the shampoo bowl while rinsing color, for instance, a simple thumbs up from the stylist can communicate, “All good?” Also, “Are you comfortable?” Or, “How’s the water temperature?” And the same gesture back from the client communicates their comfort and satisfaction on all counts.
Looking for a few ideas to add value to the customer service experience at the shampoo bowl?
Try including a:
- Scalp massage
- Neck massage
- Complementary deep treatment
- Quick hot towel facial
Salon Customer Service Tip #9: Touchless Checkout
Before you open your doors, take measures for touchless checkout.
One idea is to remove the need for signatures on your payment processing terminals. You can also use a PCI-compliant payment processing system so you can keep your clients’ credit card information on file. That way there’s no need to touch a card during, or after, the service. And with email receipts and automatic appointment confirmations, there’s no need to handle paper. So, you save a tree and your client’s health at the same time!
If your client made a product reservation, be sure to grab it for them before they check out. Otherwise, consider recommending products through your online store and have the items shipped directly to their doorstep. Your salon earns commissions without even having to touch the products.
Salon Customer Service Tip #10: Balance Customer Service & Clean Up
Although you don’t want to clean your station in front of your current client, it’s not a bad thing for them to see you or your team cleaning up and disinfecting other stations or parts of the salon. It will give them a greater sense of security knowing the salon or spa is adequately disinfected.
Other Ideas to Up the Customer Service Experience
So, how do you make the most of your customer service during the current situation? You get creative; that’s how. Let small gestures and acts of kindness accumulate into the best possible client experience. That’s what will take your service to the concierge level.
Here are some simple customer service ideas:
- Up the rewards points for specific actions using your client loyalty program.
- Take the time to send a personal thank you (or set up automated emails to say thank you).
- Text a quick message to see how they liked their recent service, especially if they made a drastic change.
- Make good on any gift cards or favors owed.
- Offer temporary discounts for anyone who is out of work.
- Provide discounts on future services.
- Provide product samples to try out.
- Share links to styling tips and video tutorials that are fitting for their needs.
Regardless of what you and your team decide to do, providing the best possible customer service in the time of COVID is a worthy goal. Aim high and work hard to make every client experience the best that it can be!
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