In the beauty industry, customers have high expectations about their experiences and can be very demanding. Their ultimate goal is to leave the salon or spa relaxed and refreshed. However, no matter how hard we try to maintain service levels, it seems like at some point, we all encounter customer complaints.
Reasons for complaints may include anything from a customer having a bad day, through trying to get a discount, to a poor performance on our side. In any case, it is imperative to address customer dissatisfaction with courtesy and consideration.
A documented 5-step complaint response strategy provides a process that enables spa and salon employees to tackle issues in an effective and timely manner. This often creates an even better customer experience that may convert a dissatisfied guest into an advocate for the business.
Step 1: Identify the problem
The key here is to manage the tone of communication, as it is quite natural to raise our voice when others also speak loud and angry. When the customer is frustrated and speaks aggressively about their complaint, they are usually seeking acknowledgment. Always stay calm and in a respectful manner appreciate the customer’s distress or irritation through active listening, or repeating key phrases. This way you will show the customer that you are attentive and helpful.
By paraphrasing the customer’s words, you establish a rapport, build the line of communication and identify the problem without aggravating the situation.
Note that you and your employees are entitled to respect. If the customer insults you, you may want to terminate the discussion until they are ready to communicate cordially.
Step 2: Make a sincere apology
Customers generally understand that things can go wrong at any time, and they will appreciate your genuine efforts to fix the situation. So once the nature of the complaint has been identified, it is time for a sincere apology. Remember though, do not ever place the blame on another staff member or on the customer. Choose your words wisely and keep the apology simple without placing the blame elsewhere, especially the customer.
Step 3: Keep a complete record
Here is a 3-step to-do list during and after each incident:
- Write a letter of apology signed by the management – this proves your business goes above and beyond providing the perfect customer service.
- Keep a detailed record of the employee’s actions – it may be useful in case the customer continues to complain.
- Make a note in the customer’s profile – salon software allows you to update the customer record with notes visible to the employee who attends the customer. You can include all relevant information that will allow the staff to avoid any inconvenient situations in the future.
Step 4: Find a solution and compensate
Always be prepared to offer something to unhappy customers. Implementing a complaint handling protocol helps the staff to act on the situation. The protocol should specify who is authorized to handle complaints and what they can offer as redress (a discount, gift, voucher or complimentary service).
Step 5: Follow up with the customer
The last thing to do is to reach out to the customer after the situation has been resolved (whether it is before they leave the premises, or by calling them at home after their appointment). Apologize once again and ask if they are happy with the solution received. This additional courtesy communication will reassure the customer that your business and staff are genuinely concerned about the situation and will go out of their way to make up for it.
Turn challenging situations to your advantage
Evaluating complaints is an excellent way to oversee the quality of the service and keep your staff accountable. After a challenging situation has been resolved, meet with your entire team and discuss the issue.
Brainstorm on what other responses could have been made and what alternative options could be offered to the customer in similar situations. Are there any actions required to prevent a similar incident? Did the team act appropriately before, during and after the incident that sparked the complaint? This discussion might expose some flaws in communication or operations that can be addressed immediately.
Having a clear and comprehensive policy on how to handle complaints has a number of benefits. On one hand, it will help your staff stay calm and professional when faced with difficult customers or unexpected mishaps, and give them the confidence to deal efficiently and professionally with any problems as soon as they arise. On the other hand, it will keep them accountable for their actions. And finally, it will give you reassurance. of the consistency in delivering excellent customer service.
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