As a stylist, your number one goal is to provide services that make your clients happy. To ensure that happens, you conduct in-depth consultations, share photos, listen carefully to what your client is saying, stay on top of the latest trends and continuously upgrade your skills. Yet, only a superhero can get it right 100 percent of the time. And although you look smashing in that cape, at the end of the day you are human. So when you receive that dreaded call from a dissatisfied client, what do you do?
Salon business expert and former salon owner Chris Murphy of Chris Murphy & Co. remembers one of the first times a client of his wasn’t satisfied with her service. “It was early in my career,” he recalls. “I didn’t know what to say. So I stupidly asked, ‘What would you like for me to do?’ That literally sent the client over the edge. She said, ‘I want you to give me a solution! That’s why I’m calling you. Don’t ask me to give you the solution, too!’”
That was 15 years ago, and Murphy says the experience remains fresh in his memory to this day. “I’ll never forget that customer service lesson,” he says. “She was right. And that’s when I learned the right way to resolve a customer complaint.” According to Murphy, he now takes the following two steps to deal with every complaint.
MY CLIENT IS UNHAPPY: STEP ONE
Immediately acknowledge the client’s concerns and thank her for the opportunity to make the situation right. After all, she’s giving you another chance. The easiest thing for her to do would be to go away, find another stylist and never come back. Instead, you are getting a do-over and you might save a client, which means saving lots of money. Remember, it’s a lot more expensive to bring in a new client than it is to retain an existing client. “Knowing when clients are dissatisfied and doing something about it before they tell all their friends is a great way to enhance customer satisfaction," confirms salon consultant and author Kathy Jager.
MY CLIENT IS UNHAPPY: STEP TWO
Come up with two options to solve the problem. Why two? It focuses the client on a new choice and raises the odds that one of the two choices will be to her satisfaction. “In hindsight, I realize the two options I should have offered this long-ago client were 1) a refund or 2) a credit for a complimentary color application during her next visit,” says Murphy. “I could have also offered her a credit or I could have invited her to return to the salon to see our education director. No matter which options you offer, it’s likely she’ll happily pick one and you can all be on your way.”
The two-option solution also works when you have to say no to a client, says Murphy. If she requests a service you no longer offer, “You can say something like, ‘I apologize, we no longer offer that service, but here's what I can do. I can perform a similar service that do we offer in its place or I can provide you with a list of places that do offer that service.’ In this scenario, the client feels heard and understands you’re doing everything in your power to provide her with the best possible outcome. In the end, what matters most is that you take care of your client.”
Once you’ve agreed upon a solution, be sure to keep your promises, advises Jager. Whether it’s returning to the salon for a service, honoring a gift receipt or promising not to repeat the mistake, keeping promises is the only way to re-establish the trust that’s vital for any relationship.
Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself. “Remember,” says Jager, “Complaints make room for growth personally as well as professionally. So take the critique and learn from it.”
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