Salon Spa Business

BeautyNZ Nov/Dec 09

BeautyNZ Nov/Dec 09

By Caroline Nelson

Exceptional Customer Service is Very Profitable

There is a saying in the beauty industry that “customer service is the most valuable service we sell”. And there was never a more truism said. Because it is an absolute that without a loyal customer base and a steady stream of new one’s most salons or spas would quickly sink into the “red”. Providing great customer service will put your ahead of the somewhat over crowded market place of competing businesses. It’s what your business needs to keep loyal customers and attract new referral business. In this issue we are going to talk about how to provide exceptional customer service and also how we can use it to build a more profitable business.

Firstly I don’t believe in trying to fix something that isn’t broken. So if you are currently providing exceptional service you may not need to read this article any further. But then how do you know it's exceptional unless you benchmark it against your competition? When did you last do a "secret shopper" survey on them and how did your business compare? How is your repeat business? Do a large percentage of clients re-schedule at the end of their treatment? And how many of your loyal clients refer their friend and loved ones? If you have any concerns in these areas then maybe
your customer service needs a little shake up.

You know having the best facility, equipment and products does not always guarantee good customer service. In fact this was brought home to me very forcefully recently when I was on holiday. I had heard and read (paid advertising and possible paid PR) quite a lot about a certain up-market spa and looked forward to what I imagined would be a very enjoyable, relaxing and up-lifting experience. Unfortunately I was sadly mistaken, it turned out to be one of the worst spa experiences I have every received. It didn’t matter about the fortune invested on the facility, prestigious
product range, fancy brochures, or the enormous amount of paid advertising, the lack of good customer service let it down big time.

Every employee I came in contact with gave the impression they did not want to be there and therefore the level of service was just appalling. Now I gathered from the grumblings of my therapist that they all felt under-valued, over-worked, under-paid and very unhappy. I was told that they had all spoken to the management about their grievances and was told "Tough luck you should be so lucky to work at such a prestigious spa, if you don’t like it leave". From the vibes I picked up I expect this situation would ultimately lead to a mass walk-out. The trouble is that in the mean time this unpleasant atmosphere invaded the whole spa and certainly didn’t make customers feel welcome.

But on the other hand if you have a team of happy staff what a difference that can make. In every way but most importantly happy staff means greater profits for your salon or spa. Providing good quality service is a way of selling and promoting your business. It creates loyal clients who come more often spend more and this results in increased profits.

Are you and your staff listening to what the customer needs?

How often do we hear customers tell us that their hairdresser or beauty therapist was too busy talking about herself, to listen to them? And of course the end result is that they the customer did not get what they asked for or wanted. Is this happening in your salon or do you have employees who have taken the “tranquil peace and quite” approach so far that on the whole they fail to communicate with the customer on any meaningful level.

We must know and understand what makes the customer tick if we are ever going to fully service their needs. We are in the business of solving beauty care problems, recommending solutions and making customers happy, or even happier. Therefore developing good communication skills within our team is the key to fully servicing customers needs. And ever time a customer is listened to and understood you can fulfill more needs, address more issues or solve more problems. This eases your customer’s life, increases their trust and makes them happy to do business with your
establishment.

Good communication hinges on really listening and understanding their needs wants and desires. Making sure the need is understood by clarifying “So Jane your main concern with your skin is ……. Is that correct?” Ask any additional questions that will provide more information. Observe the customers reaction – body language etc. Using your professional knowledge subtly start to educate. This lifts creditability and a relationship of trust will develop. Once credibility has been established the customer will be prepared to hear recommendations and the “action plan” of how she can achieve her beauty care goals. Through the whole process the therapist must examine the messages that are being sent and the messages she is sending to the customer.

The Ten Golden Rules of Exceptional Customer Service

To make Exceptional Customer Service an integral part of your business operations first everyone on your team needs to recognize that customers are the most vital ingredient of the business, and vital to their job security. Without customers the business would cease to exist. Therefore it should be part of salon culture to continually develop the Customer Service Policy. The mission is to exceed “Customer Satisfaction” on all and every level.

The Ten Golden Rules

  1. Know that this is a SERVICE industry, we are in the business of servicing customer needs, wants and desires, and the only way we can do this is to know what those needs, wants and desires are. Expert consultation analysis diagnosis and recommendation at all times. And never forget who really pays the wages – it’s the customer.
  2. Become an exceptional Communicator. Communication is the Heart & Soul of Exceptional Customer Service – the method & style you use to transmit & receive information from the customer. Communication includes; Talking, Listening, Rapport building, Questioning, Understanding, Presenting, Clarifying, Gentle Honest Persuasion, Getting the commitment and finally Relationship Building.
  3. All communication between therapist and client/customer should be efficient and effective. The customer should be clear that the message was understood and that you received and understood the intended message sent. Listen to their words and tone, watch body language and be aware of how they feel – show empathy.
  4. Identify and anticipate their needs, wants and desires. In the beauty business clients don't just buy products or services. They buy the experience of good feelings and solutions to problems. They want to feel Beautiful and Desirable and their therapist is in the position to offer this “Feel Good” fix and should be anticipating their every need.
  5. Making all customers feel important and appreciated is vital to the business success. Treat them with respect and as VIP Guests. Always use their name and find ways to compliment them, but always be sincere. They will value this sincerity and it will go a long way in developing customer loyalty and trust. Always be mindful of ways to increase their “Salon Experience”
  6. Help them to increase the service value by honest professional recommendation. Remember we may have the best services and home care in the world, but if customers don't know about them or understand how these services or products can help solve their beauty problems, they will not be able to benefit. So always take the time to educate them. They will love you for it.
  7. Appreciate the power of "Yes". Always look for ways to help your customers. And if you can’t do things exactly like they have asked make alternative suggestions.
  8. Know how to correct things and be happy to offer an apology. When something goes wrong fix it. It's easy and customers like it. The customer may not always be right, but the customer must always win, they hold all the cards, credit cards that is. Value their complaints. As much as we dislike it, it gives us an opportunity to improve. Even if customers are having a bad day, go out of your way to make them feel comfortable.
  9. Give more than expected this is what will set the business apart from the competition and will help to build the client base. Give customers what they can’t get elsewhere and they’ll keep coming back.
  10. To give Exceptional Service the therapists will need to believe in themself which will builds Self Esteem and Confidence. Believe in the integrity of the services and products builds your team and the salon’s creditability.

Good Customer Service increases sales

Let now talk about the customer benefits of good service because this is where you will make sales increases. This entails up-selling or add on sales which I have mentioned in past articles. You might ask “how does selling the customer more each transaction help them?” One of the best examples of how great customer service can pump up your sales and increase profits is found in the motor vehicle industry. To a car sales person its not only about selling the car that meets the customers driving requirements .i.e. a car that gets them from A to B but also selling the extras that
delivers a great driving experience.

The new car purchaser is generally after a better driving experience and this is often one of the reasons they are purchasing a new car and not a second hand model. So how does spending more money increase their driving experience? Well consider the music buff the sales person sells the extra of a premium sound system. Would this increase the music buffs driving experience. Every time they got in their beautiful new car and heard that pure sound it would put a smile on their face. Where as, the safety conscious driver might desire the curtain airbags that only come as extras. This increased level of safety would certainly enhance their driving experience. I’m sure you are now starting to see how by selling the extras the car sales person is not only providing great customer service but the increased sales are helping him reach his sales targets and supporting business growth. So selling extras make the better experience and increase profits.

Can you now start to see how this type of enhanced customer service could work in your business? Because, to be honest just how many customers in your business go out your doors each day having only had the basic experience? Even the smallest service can be upgraded. For example the customer who comes in for a eye brow wax who mentions she has just come from the hairdressers and had a new colour there is a good possibility she also needs her brows tinted to compliment her hair. And why not put the effort into upgrading all basic facial clients to experience your high performance facials. They will be getting a treatment that delivers far superior results and they will truly get the best experience or are you happy for them to only have your basic facial experience. I bet not. Then you need to train your team to sell the sizzle of the upgrades just like the car sales manager does. Start enhancing your customers experience because just like the car purchaser who quickly forgets the extra cost of their new sound system your clients will remember the great treatment they had not the fact it cost a bit more. This technique can also be used in retail selling for example by selling the extra serum won’t most clients skin benefit more than just using the basic cleans, tone and moisturise routine.

In addition the better the customer experience the more likely they are to share their delight with friends, colleagues and loved ones. So your referral rate goes up. So my suggestion is to train your staff to make customers happy and you will be laughing all the way to the bank. In my next article I will be discussing Understanding Customer Behaviour – and how it increases Sales. For more expert advice please contact me.

© Copyright Caroline Nelson 2009

 

Caroline Nelson is a beauty industry specific business coach and author of the Ignite Your Beauty Business For $uccess- Salon, Staff Policies Procedures & Systems manual.

To learn more about her step by-step program for salon spa success, and to sign up for her FREE e-Book "3 Top Salon Spa Money Making Secrets", visit:
www.salonspabusiness.com