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The past few years have been a real challenge for salon owners. Now, more than ever, they know that they cannot afford to take a single client for granted. Salon revenues in Australia are up by 84% in the wake of the pandemic. What’s more, the industry is showing strong signs of growth, with an estimated value of $8.8bn and a growth of 2.3% between 2017 and 2022. But, with industry growth comes more competition and more choice for clients. At a time when they know that clients can afford to be fickle, salon owners need to focus their efforts on creating an unforgettable experience every time.
It’s important to remember that the salon experience starts way before the client steps through your front door. In this article, we’ll look at 20 touchpoints before, during and after the client visit that can contribute to an outstanding salon experience. The kind that keeps a client coming back to you time after time, no matter how many new competitors stake their claim on the market.
Before the client arrives
Remember that the salon experience begins long before the client sits at their chair. Their first impressions of your brand will most likely be formed by your online presence. This may be your website, your social media accounts or what your existing clients have written on review platforms.
As well as ensuring that your work (and your workplace) sparkle in their online depictions, here are some ways in which you can start making a great salon experience for the client before they walk through your door.
1. Make the booking process seamless
Staying on top of manual bookings can become a prohibitively big job as your salon and its client base grow. Instead, consider using Square Appointments to simplify your scheduling and integrate with your POS.
As well as having a simple and user-friendly interface, it also uses automation to make the booking process easier for both you and the client. Use your booking system to send confirmations at the point of booking and 24 hours before to ensure that there is no miscommunication.
2. Make sure the area is prepared for them
No matter how great your work, nobody wants to walk into a messy or chaotic salon. Five minutes before your client is due to arrive, take a few moments to ensure that your space is ready to receive them. Ensure that the area is clean and free of hair, foils, open product bottles etc.
A busy and messy salon projects an image of poor organisation and prevents the client from feeling as valued.
3. Remember a few key details
If the client returns to you, it’s great to be able to remember a few details about them. Anything from the names of their kids or partner to events mentioned in anecdotes can make a huge difference to their experience. It helps them to feel more valued and strengthens their relationship with you and your brand.
Of course, it can be tricky to remember these details off the top of your head. Use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform to keep track of your client, recording information about the treatments they have as well as allowing you to make notes about key personal details that will help the client feel more recognised and valued.
4. Ask if there’s anything you need to know before arrival
Touch base with the client prior to their arrival to ask if there’s anything you need to know before the appointment, or at least have a comments section in your booking form. Some clients may have social anxiety issues, find small talk difficult or find it difficult to be touched by another person. Demonstrating that you understand and respect this can go a long way to helping the customer feel welcome. The more you know, the better you can make their experience.
5. Give them everything they need to know
As well as finding out everything you need to know, furnish the client with all the information they need to get to their appointment with a minimum of hassle and stress.
Information on how to find you, where to park and where the nearest cash machine is located (for clients who prefer to pay with cash) is always appreciated.
While the client is with you
Now that the client is through your door, build upon the foundation you’ve established and make a great impression. Here’s how you can manage the client’s experience during their appointment.
6. Manage the first and last impression
Within seconds of walking through the door, the client has started to form an impression of your business, so make sure it’s the right impression. Keep things calm and efficient. Greet the client, or at least acknowledge their presence as soon as possible. This is why a good receptionist is worth their weight in gold.
Resist the urge to rush. Even if your last appointment has run over, you can still give the client a warm welcome, offering a drink and guiding them to the waiting area. Then send the current client away with a smile on their face.
7. Manage your appointment time
Avoid being over-ambitious when it comes to your bookings. Manage your appointment times carefully to avoid bookings running together. Still, you’re a human being and not a robot, and sometimes appointments take longer than expected. It’s better to make your appointment times a little longer than they need them to be, than to overbook and risk rushing the client.
8. Encourage feedback as you go along
You might feel like you’re doing a great job. But does the client? Most clients will be willing to praise the work you’re doing. But sometimes they may not be able to envisage the end result based on your work so far and they may be too polite to voice any concerns they have. So it’s a good idea to encourage feedback as you go along, to address any concern they have, make any necessary changes or provide them with reassurance.
9. Be proactive in managing waiting clients
Despite your best intentions, sometimes a customer will be left waiting. This is absolutely fine, as long as you and your team are proactive in managing the waiting client. Be realistic about wait times. It’s easy to over-promise in these circumstances, but this inevitably leads to under-delivering.
Most of the time, the client doesn’t mind having to wait. Just make sure they’re kept in the loop, their expectations are managed and they don’t feel forgotten.
10. Be conscious of odours
You likely pay a lot of attention to the sights and sounds of your salon. But you should also be conscious of smells. Some clients are easily bothered by strong chemical odours that are very common in hair and nail salons. So avoid leaving solvent-based products, acetone etc open for long periods of time. Use scented hand sanitisers, cuticle oils etc to avoid pungent alcohol smells.
11. Know how to handle longer appointments
Sometimes hair treatments need to develop for up to 45–60 minutes. This can be an extremely boring and tedious experience for the client if it is not managed properly. Make sure they have a drink and access to magazines or their phone so that they can keep themselves informed and entertained while you make the necessary preparation for the next stage of their treatment.
12. Show them that hygiene matters to you
The client needs to know that they are being looked after in a safe, clean and sanitary environment, especially in the wake of the pandemic. Clean intermittently as you go, and sanitise products and your workstation. All of this will show that you are dedicated to keeping the space safe and hygienic.
13. Don’t be afraid to be personable … but don’t make the appointment all about you
For many people, their hairdresser, makeup artist or nail technician is their therapist. They may rant about their partner, job, friend or whatever else is bothering them at home or at work. And while this is often one of the more fun and rewarding parts of the job, it’s important to remember that this isn’t a two-way street.
Don’t rant to the client about your problems. By all means be personable, but make sure that the client feels listened to.
14. Be your own best customer
The client won’t trust products that their stylist won’t use. So become your own best customer if you want to combine your appointment with the sale of a product that enables them to keep that salon look for longer.
Use the products you sell so that you can show the client how they have benefitted you. This is a great way to show that you have faith in your own products.
15. Ensure that the first and last client of the day get the same experience
It’s easy to provide a great experience for the first client of the day. But much harder to muster the same energy and enthusiasm for the last. Nonetheless, both clients are equally important. Each has the capacity to be a loyal repeat client or the nagging one-star review that brings down your average on Google.
Make sure that every client, from the first to the last, gets the same quality of care and attention.
After the service has ended
You’ve provided the client with a great service, and they look amazing. They’re about to leave with a spring in their step and a renewed sense of confidence.
But if you think that’s the end of their experience, think again.
Here are some ways you can improve their experience after their treatment is finished.
16. Offer to re-book through the same system
Don’t put pressure on the client to re-book with you. However, it’s worth reminding them about your booking system and that you get busy. Encourage them to book their next appointment sooner rather than later, to avoid missing out on their preferred appointment date or time.
17. Don’t rush another client into their seat
The client is about to leave, and you’re ready to start afresh with your next client. Still, it’s a good idea to wait until the client has left before seating the next client, even if you’re running late. And make it clear that you’re going to sanitise and prepare the workspace between appointments. Nobody wants to feel like you’re rushing the next client into the seat that they’ve just left.
18. Make them feel special on social media
With your client’s consent, post their fantastic results on social media. This is yet another opportunity to help them feel special. Refer to them by their first name and mention how much you enjoyed the appointment. They are likely to share this, which could be a great source of referrals.
19. Make a few notes
If time allows, it’s always worth making some notes on the client to help you better remember them and their needs next time. Your booking system likely reminds you of the client’s last treatment when they return to you. However, you may want to supplement this with some personal notes about their preferences, any anecdotes they tell you or changes in their circumstances. These little touches help the client feel remembered and valued. Your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) can be an extremely valuable tool here.
20. Thank/reward customers for recommending you
Finally, word of mouth is extremely important. Referrals are the lifeblood of a thriving salon. So if a customer recommends you to a friend, colleague or family member, they should absolutely be rewarded for it. A personal message saying thank you is good. An extra stamp on their reward card, a discount on their next visit or other incentive is even better.