Customer service after the coronavirus
Salons all around the UK are reopening and it may seem like things are getting back to normal. Clients are booking their appointments, craving for the longed-for pampering experience… only to be faced with the harsh reality of the so-called “new normality”. For the time being, hair and beauty salons are meant to be places where you get the service done – period. The customer is supposed to arrive just in time, disinfect hands properly, have limited contact with anybody and anything in the salon, preferably pay touchless and leave. Seems very impersonal, cold and even kind of stressful, especially since hair and beauty salons are places for self-care and relaxation. So how can you deliver great customer service while abiding by safety regulations? Is there even a way to do so? Let’s find out!
Start the customer service before the appointment
Whenever we discuss offering clients the perfect beauty visit, we stress the importance of making a good first impression. With so much competition on the market, your salon needs to be tempting right off the bat. And how do most people come across a hair or beauty business for the first time? In the magical realm of the Internet, of course – especially now, when you cannot simply enter a salon non-appointed. Your first contact with the new potential customer will most probably take place via Messenger or a phone call – or there won’t be direct contact at all, as the customer will book their appointment online. In all of these cases, especially the latest, it’s crucial to create a welcoming atmosphere virtually. You cannot act too heartily during the appointment – but nothing stops you from establishing a friendly vibe via your social media and direct messages!
Find a balanced voice
Now, let’s be clear – ensuring your salon is a safe place will always be more important than ensuring it’s a cosy one. Attempts at creating a welcoming atmosphere cannot steer you away from the more important goal, which is assuring that your clients know (and will follow) your safety rules. You need to find a healthy balance. Your posts and messages shouldn’t be too bleak or aggressive in tone, because it may intimidate your potential customers or make an impression that the visit in your business will be a stressful one. On the other hand, they also cannot be too frivolous or meek, because in this case, your potential customers will treat your requests as tips (at best) or ignore them completely (at worst).
The best way to achieve this is to mind your wording – when you are talking about your safety protocols, use unequivocal expressions (“do this and that”, “you need to”, “you have to”, “you are obliged to”) but follow them with a form of courtesy (“thank you”). The rest of the post/message may be more humorous and playful – this way your potential customers will know that you are rigid about your rules, but apart from that – they’ll see you as a sympathetic and welcoming person.
It’s the perfect moment to start posting more on your social media accounts. Since it’s recommended that you limit conversing with clients in the salon, you may want to move your thoughts and jokes to the online world! Take a lot of photos and come up with funny captions. Describe the new reality of your work in a humorous way. Show your newest transformations. Post pictures of your crew. The current situation may make your clients feel somewhat distanced from you – fortunately, thanks to your Facebook or Instagram fan pages, you can bring some of that usual closeness back.
Look for safe ways to pamper your clients
Chatting around, slow coffee sipping and lazily going through shelves of retail products, looking for the best-suited conditioner seem like distant concepts now. However, you can still go on with your usual elements of customer service – just match the ways to the circumstances!
- Serve drinks in disposable cups (look for recyclable options!). You can also buy a few packs of bottled water, juice or ice tea and serve them to clients who are in need of refreshment but would prefer to have full control over who is handling their beverage.
- Print out the descriptions and ingredients of your retail products and place on your shelves. This way your clients will be able to read them without the need to touch the containers.
- Burning scented candles is not the best idea – the smoke and strong smell may be unpleasant for employees and clients wearing visors or face coverings. Instead, opt for artificial warm lights (fairy lights are always in fashion!) and as much fresh airflow as possible.
Pay attention to your (and your crew’s) body language
If you are very stressed and tense, your body language usually gives it away. Feeling the (oftentimes subconscious) fear of being infected, you may deviate from the customer, cross your arms or make sudden, nervous movements. What makes matters worse is that the less verbal interaction, the more attention we pay to one’s body language – so nowadays, clients are far more likely to notice the tension in your behaviour and feel unwelcomed.
Your fears – conscious or not – are very valid. Your priority here should be to take care of your mental health – stress relief and relaxation and of vital importance! Then you can try to pay more attention to your body language when interacting with clients.
Avoid sensitive topics
Let’s be real – a lot of people are going to start the conversation by asking you how did the situation affect you and your business or will describe their own experiences in detail. Sometimes discussing the coronavirus is going to be unavoidable. However, try to monitor the conversation – you want to avoid:
- Lengthy and detailed stories of the business (or personal) struggles you went through – it sounds harsh, but such things shouldn’t be shared with clients. It may negatively affect their experience and make you seem unprofessional. You can also easily say too much about your salon’s financial situation, which is never a good thing.
- Very personal questions on how is the client coping – unless they clearly want to talk about it.
- Bragging about your income, holidays or unexpectedly good time during the lockdown – you don’t know your customers’ situation. They might have lost someone, got fired or struggled with their mental health. Being a little too enthusiastic about the time that could be a living hell for someone else is unforgivably tasteless.
Let the customer experience transcend the visit
Finally, it’s a great idea to contact the customer a few days after the visit – you can send them a short text message in which you will thank them for coming, abiding by your safety protocols and ask them to leave a review. You can easily send such messages thanks to the bulk messaging option in your Versum account – simply enter the message template and filter customers who have visited you recently. This kind of notification will show your clients that you care and will leave a great impression that will last longer.
Difficult times require clever solutions – but with a little bit of imagination and a smart digital helper, you will manage to overcome the difficulties. Try Versum today and deliver an awesome customer experience no matter what!