Let’s play client bingo.
There’s the one who insists they haven’t picked off their gel nails.
The one who definitely thinks they can go from dark brunette to caramel blonde in one speedy salon session.
And the one who is adamant their appointment was at 6pm, when it was 100% 5pm.
Now let’s add some Russian roulette about whether that client is going to ‘share’ their frustrations on Facebook. Yes, the phrase the customer is always right’ is never more relevant (and your patience never more tested) than when you’re working your hardest during party season. So just how do you handle Little Miss Right while staying professional and maintaining your reputation? Simply follow our ‘Customer Is Always Right Commandments’ and you’re guaranteed to keep everyone smiling to January and beyond…
Service with a smile is one of life’s little necessities, even when your client is oh so wrong…
Thou shall handle with care
“Allow clients to have their opinion, even if it isn’t correct,” reveals Rachel Gribble, Salon System Educator (salonsystem.com). “Never discredit them or tell them that they are wrong!” Tact is the buzzword in this situation so take everything on board while staying as friendly and polite as possible. Use responses like, ‘Well you’ve raised some good points there’ and ‘Thank you for taking the time to draw that to my attention.’ These statements don’t agree or disregard your client and a polite, simple and neutral sentence can mean many things.
Thou shall avoid arguments
Ok, this is hard, but take a deep breath and try to stay the professional you are. Calmly explain your point of view, reason for carrying out a treatment in a certain way or what they should actually expect from their time with you. If you keep your cool, it should soothe even the most adamant Miss Right. However, if this doesn’t work you can still take control. “When a client is being rude, back away from the situation,” advises Rachel. “They are entitled to their opinion but not to being unpleasant.”
Thou shall remind clients of your credentials
Don’t be afraid to go through your layers of expertise with a client that believes they know best. A quick glance to your BABTAC approved certificates on the wall, or dropping a recent award or training course you’ve done into conversation during the treatment will gently remind, rather than lecture, a customer that they really are in the best hands.
Thou shall shut down social
While ‘always right’ clients are commonplace in salon, they also like to crop up online too. “How do you reverse a bad review from a customer on Facebook or Instagram, who thinks they’re right when they’re not?” says Rachel. “Reply, in a very polite and friendly manner, say sorry that they weren’t satisfied and that you are more than happy to discuss further in person and leave it at that, no further comments.”
‘DON’T BE AFRAID TO GO THROUGH YOUR LAYERS OF EXPERTISE WITH A CLIENT THAT BELIEVES THEY KNOW BEST’
Thou shall take crictism
“If an issue does occur, in most cases the customer just wants to be listened to and to have their points validated,’ says beauty marketing consultant, Martina Mercer (martinamercer.com). “It’s important to listen to the details, why are they not happy, how do they feel, what could have been done differently to avoid this.” Taking their points on board may help you improve your overall service too, so take it on the chin as a learning curve.
Thou shall identify the habitual Miss Rights
“Occasionally you will find a customer who likes to make a habit out of being right, or rather using it as a chance to complain,” says Martina. “They make a habit out of complaining as they relish the extra attention and also the perks - refunds or credit notes - they receive from kicking up a fuss. If they are a habitual complainer, you may have to accept they shouldn’t be on your client list anymore.” Just because someone wants to book your services you don’t have to oblige, a few weeks of being fully booked will see them looking elsewhere in the most positive way possible!
Thou shall give the VIP treatment
Clients who are always right, can be flipped around to your advantage. “You could give them VIP status so they feel as if their opinions are being listened to and they’re being rewarded for being a loyal customer,” suggests Martina. Thou shall remember you’re not alone Every look good pro experiences clients who think they know better than them. In fact right now in a salon somewhere, a therapist is nodding politely at a client that is ‘definitely’ in the right. Take solace in that, then off load to a friend or fellow pro after work.
Crazy hair colour changes and Rapunzel esque lengths, thanks to many Instagram filters and endless extensions, are one of the areas whereby the customer has high demands and unrealistic expectations. Adele Clarke, Owner of Spectrum Hair Company, OSMO IKON Brand Ambassador and Balayage and Colour Specialist, gives her top three tips on handling this hot hair issue;
1. Consider creating a consultation form and written appointment plan to take your client from where they are hair wise to where they want to be, which everyone can sign. This lays out clearly what’s involved, the time frame, the costs and what to expect. This way the right way is easy to see!
2. Always explain the science to your client. A drastic colour change in one session might seem like a reasonable request but when they realise the alchemy that needs to take place they should back down. Plus an informed client is an empowered client.
3. Reassure clients that hairdressing experiences are different for everyone as each person’s hair is so unique. This should temper their expectations and assure they’re happy with what they get avoiding any disappointment at the big reveal.
Insta make-up is giving clients the wrong idea about what looks right in real life. So when a customer shows you her inspiration pics, offer to take a quick pic of her then add filters to transform it and illustrate how false these images are. This would give you a platform to start discussing your skill set and the fab products you have that will create a realistic and suitable adaptation of her chosen look. When a client thinks they know better about taking off gels or acrylics on their own, peeling them away, offer a free soak offer as a special offer to show them how much better the professional way is. Got a client who is sure they need a darker tan but you know it’s two shades too many? Have pictures of real clients with a real range of glows so you can show the before and afters clearly so the customer makes the right choice.