In this industry, we are well versed on the vital importance of the customer relationship; in fact, we are probably one of the only sectors that really champions the fact that when it comes to commerce of any nature, relationships are key.
Salon owners all over the globe actively encourage their teams to ensure they go the extra mile for their customers, and none more so when it comes to the little details. But other sectors could learn from our expertise, too. People are the key to buying – ask any good salesman what makes him such and they’ll say that it’s about the relationships they build with the customers. That’s the key to solid, repeat business; good relationships are the crucial factor in word of mouth recommendation. So what do we need to remember to encourage and develop these critical bonds?
1. No one size fits all
Delivering the right customer experience isn’t about standardising – in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Assuming people all want the same thing is fatal. For instance, at Richard Ward Hair & Metrospa, we don’t offer head and scalp massage as standard with any of our services. We offer it, but we don’t presume that everyone will want it. Personally, I can think of nothing worse than lying at the backwash having my head tinkered with (a. I’m always in too much of a hurry, and b. I would never find it relaxing… to me, being at the backwash is a chance to check there are no bulbs out or cobwebs lurking!). So we must never presume that what really float one person’s boat should become compulsory for everyone because that simply isn’t bespoke service.
2. Take the time to tick the wish list
Finding out what people do want is a skill in itself, as well as an art that needs careful training and continual development within our teams. Great consultation skills are one thing, but establishing what matters to each and every customer on an individual basis is crucial if we want to keep our clients. Often the gap isn’t pre-service, but post-service follow-up. Taking images on the clients phone which can act as a visual record of results helps in planning a programme of treatments to get to the long term desired result.
3. Remember the details
The biggest compliment a client ever paid me was in telling me that when she walked into our waiting bar not only did the barista remember her name, but he remembered her coffee order. Another client told me how amazing it was that our long term receptionist Lou recognised her voice long before she had to say her name. Little details matter hugely to people. Never underestimate just how much.
4. Be consistent
The key, of course, is to try and deliver every service and every UXP (User Experience) consistently. Not the easiest of things to deliver, and one of the most challenging things to track and monitor. As I always say, we don’t have a ‘cookie-cutter’ business model that you can just roll-out. It’s far more complex than that because it’s all about people. But getting the right systems in place is a brilliant use of your precious time as a salon owner, to try and ensure the experience is as consistent as possible. Because, we must remember, people only recommend consistency – ever.
5. Re-visit the wish list
We try to adopt the ‘Every Client is a Work-in-Progress’ approach with our clients. Research suggests, after all, that the biggest reason people give for leaving their hairdresser, bank, insurance company or any other service provider is when they start to feel that they’re being taken for granted. Nobody likes that feeling, so taking the time to sit down and re-establish their long term hair and beauty goals as part of a seasonal overhaul is crucial, and should be company policy for anyone in the service industry.
Times are challenging, with the length of time between visits growing every longer in our sector, so making sure we do everything in our power to secure customer loyalty has never been so important.