How salon virtual receptionists are changing the hair and beauty industry
Things used to be a lot less hectic in the salon prior to COVID-19 – clients, who were either previously booked or walk-ins were greeted by a smiling and radiant receptionist. Coffee was served, laughs were exchanged and the waiting area was a lively place. However, little did we know about the biological dangers of COVID-19 brewing in our midst. Today, ensuring client safety should be every salon’s goal, and many of the comforts we took for granted have been limited by government regulations in order to prevent outbreaks. As a result, salon receptionists’ positions have been significantly impacted.
Changes in client management
Remember the good days when appointment gaps were filled by cheerful walk-in clients who later become loving regulars? Or when a booked client came in too early or late for their visit and could enjoy a delicious coffee while waiting to get treated? These situations were taken care of by your wonderful receptionist. Today, this is out of the question. Salons in the UK are required to make significant changes to their appointment-taking process – walk-ins are no longer accepted, customers must pass a health screening questionnaire and waiting queues must be outside the salon (if maintaining social distancing in queues in the salon is not possible).
Although much has changed, the receptionist is usually still at the forefront of managing bookings – however, this position can also put them and the rest of the team in danger as well. If you have clients fill out health screening questionnaires at the salon, and one of them fails to pass it, that means they pose a risk of spreading COVID-19 – and since they’re already in the salon, well, you get the idea. As a result, UK salons are turning to safer and more practical solutions for customer management, in the form of a virtual salon receptionist. A reliable, 24/7 receptionist functions with little to no outside intervention. Prior to arriving for their booked visit, the system automatically sends an appointment reminder and a COVID-19 screening questionnaire (required by law) to the client, allowing them to fill it out before coming into the salon – thus ensuring the safety of your receptionist and the rest of your team.
Less pampering, more treating
By now, most salon waiting areas have become vacant shells of their former selves, and receptionists can tend to only one or two clients at a time. The earthy scent of freshly brewed coffee and laughter brought on by a number of gossip articles is almost forgotten – government regulations require salons to dispose of reading materials in the waiting area, and only water in disposable cups can be served. These protocols significantly reduce the possibility of an outbreak in the salon, but at the same time, they take a gargantuan chunk out of the client’s pampering experience.
Although a receptionist can offer the client water and encourage them to book their next treatment or cross-sell a product, this is usually the limit to the customer service they can provide. Safety protocols have stripped the customer experience in the salon of any pampering, simply leaving just the treatment itself. As a result, salons turn to virtual receptionists for taking care of receptionists’ tasks, like sending an SMS notification to the next client in the outside queue that they can come in, or launching a “thank you” message once they’ve left.
Higher demand for in-and-out servicing
Let’s face it, the latest salon regulations are pushing for more contactless servicing, reducing direct contact between staff and clients. Obviously, this doesn’t pertain to the service provider, however, they are encouraged to minimise treatment times whenever possible. Salons are forced to operate in appointment-only systems, have clients fill out screening forms and arrive on time, which in turn, encourages in-and-out servicing.
As mentioned previously, this almost entirely eradicates the customer pampering experience and the need for a receptionist in the salon. Clients book their visit, fill out their screening questionnaire (hopefully pass it), come in for their appointment, get treated and leave. Although the majority of your clients visit the salon in order to get pampered as well as treated, until government regulations change, this is the new reality for salons in the UK. Throughout this process, your receptionist is in the captain’s seat – managing bookings left and right, sending appointment reminders and checking to see if all clients have passed the screening questionnaire. And in all honesty, just having customers fill out the questionnaire at the salon can be irritating for them – plus, if not handled with care, they can be cross-contaminated, which may result in an outbreak in your salon. In this case, switching to a digital solution is your best (and safest) bet.
A safer salon with a 24/7 virtual receptionist
Even if you and your team follow the government-issued safety protocols, there is still a chance that an outbreak may occur in the salon. In most cases, salons have introduced their own fair share of safety procedures that are to be followed by clients, which usually include having them wear face coverings, measuring their temperatures and a number of others. However, a salon virtual receptionist can take safety to a whole new level. With a digital helper, you can introduce a variety of protocols, including:
- Taking visits through online booking only – this reduces the possibility of cross-contamination caused by answering phone calls throughout the day
- Digital screening questionnaires – by having clients fill these out prior to coming in for their visit, you avoid possible outbreaks
- Taking prepayments – this reduces the possibility of cross-contamination from clients who want to pay in cash or credit card
Best of all, a 24-hour virtual receptionist can send a bulk message to all of your clients, informing them of these implemented protocols, in order to avoid any confusion when they arrive. Though not all virtual receptionists are created equal – only a top-of-the-line system like Versum has these features that allow you to stay compliant with the government regulations, and enforce your own.
In all honesty, a digital salon receptionist cannot replace the real deal, however, the world of hair and beauty has been flipped upside down as a result of COVID-19, and this new reality demands change in our industry. Safety for both clients and staff should be the top priority for all salons – and with the help of a reliable virtual receptionist, the possibility of an outbreak is significantly reduced. See for yourself why so many UK salons turn to Versum for their go-to solution – sign up today for your free account!