The Client's Perspective

My mother recently had her first professional manicure. Imagine my horror when she told me the nail technician talked on her cell phone during the entire service! And, according to Mom, the conversation was "not pleasant." I might be inclined to say that these things happen, except that I heard a similar story not that long ago from my art director. Ted has always had his hair cut in barbershops, but one day he walked into a salon that was offering a special to new clients and, like Mom, was subjected to a one-sided cell phone conversation. His took place at the sink and lasted through his entire shampoo.

Robbin McClain
Robbin McClain

Many of you may see these stories as extreme examples of poor customer service. Yet it makes me wonder that if I know two people who had these experiences, how many others are enduring similar situations? And while I could fill the pages of this magazine with the names of salons that excel at customer care, I want to take this opportunity to remind you to look at your business from the point of view of the person sitting in the chair, not the person standing behind it. Sometimes it's the little things that make the biggest differences:

  • SAY HELLO It feels really bad to walk into a salon and not be acknowledged by the person at the desk.
  • ADJUST THE VOLUME Some salons play music that is obviously for the staff and not for the clients. It's way too loud, which makes conversation difficult at best.
  • CHOOSE YOUR WORDS CAREFULLY You live and breathe in the salon world—your clients don't. They can be sensitive to your evaluation of their cut and style. Words you don't think twice about can sting. For instance, a stylist once told me I have angry texture. Not only do I not know what that means, I still grimace when I remember his words. No one wants to hear they're full of toxins or, worst of all, "What happened to your hair?"
  • PAY ATTENTION TO THE CLIENT It's no fun to be in the chair and have a conversation going on between your stylist and the stylists on either side of her. It's even worse when the cross talk is in another language and the client doesn't understand a word.

What do you do in your business to maintain excellent customer service? What training techniques have you put in place to help your staff deliver exceptional client care? Please share your tips and tricks. As for my own particular peeve: I hate to be left sitting with soaking wet hair. Wet hair, OK. Water dripping down my face, no. That could ruin my cell phone!