A great haircut just isn’t enough to keep a client any more. The country is saturated with salons and, for most, there’s a competitor only yards away who is also well equipped to offer a technically accurate and fashionable haircut. So, why would anyone visit your salon above anyone else’s?
The answer is simple, if somewhat old-fashioned. It all goes back to customer service that’s not just good, but is so impressive, your customer will stick by your side for life.
If you have to question whether a review of your customer service level is necessary, then maybe a quick evaluation of the potential money each client will bring to the business will make you think twice.
London salon owner, Michael Van Clarke says he currently has more than 1,000 clients who have been visiting the salon for more than 10 years. “Our average client will spend £40,000 with us at today’s prices, over a 20-year period. In addition to that, there’s the value of all the people they recommend,” he says.
It’s easy to get bombarded with monthly figures and annual turnover, but if you work out how much a client is worth to your business over a 10-year period, it certainly puts a new perspective on valuing your customer.
For Michael, client service is at the heart of the business. “It is not a department but a value rooted in the DNA of everything we do,” he says.
But what does first-class service entail and how do you achieve it? One of the first issues to address is your team. Do they really look the part? Are they well-equipped to talk about fashion, and do they give your clients confidence in the company?
It might sound obvious, but a stylist who has their underwear hanging out the top of their trousers, chipped nail varnish and is chomping away on chewing gum really won’t give your clients the impression that you’re a professional, cutting-edge salon.
“Dress code is very important to separate the team from clients, and to reduce colour pollution in the salon. Our support staff wear black and stylists stay within the arena of professional clothing – no jeans, no flip-flops, no trainers, no armpits. In a service business, how well you present yourself is a clear sign of the respect you have for the client,” says Michael.
To train his team, Michael presents them with manuals, suggests books to read and DVDs to watch. It’s not a conventional way of training, but certainly lets the team know the level their conversational skills are expected to be at.
Top Tips for Offering First Class Customer Service
Julie Eldrett is an independent business coach who specialises in customer service. Here are her top tips for offering first-class service:
- Remember that without customers, we have no business. Our customers are our business, not an inconvenience.
- Research shows that a great haircut is not enough to get a customer to return. Customer expectations are much higher and it’s the way they were treated that makes them return.
- The consultation is crucial for a happy customer. Some 95% of complaints can usually be traced back to a lack of communication at the consultation.
- It really does equate to 70% emotion and 30% technical – the technical (cut colour etc) equates to whether they come back.
- Record cards are vital. It’s important to remember little details. I recommend having a hard copy of record cards – because of data protection you should just have your clients’ name and some points about them, such as how they take their coffee and what you spoke about last time.
- Always tell your client the products and techniques you are using, including the electrical items. I recommend giving them a prescription of the products you’ve used and do so before they get to the reception. Clients love this information and think it is an excellent additional service.
- We can upset someone within three seconds of meeting them. You need to look friendly, professional and like you have taken care of how you look.
- Attitude is everything! Having a friendly, approachable attitude is very important. How your team communicate with your customers has a direct effect on your bottom line. Give your team guidelines and clearly tell them what is expected. Do you want them to wear make-up, be clean shaven or wear a certain style of clothes?
- Your staff will only know your expectations if you demonstrate them. Send your staff to a grubby coffee shop in the morning and then send them to somewhere lovely for afternoon tea. They’ll quickly get the difference between service levels.