Salon savoir-vivre after the reopening

Now that the lockdown is lifted, you are going to treat various people, whose experiences during the lockdown period couldn’t be more different from one another. Some people were just really bored, some actually relaxed a bit and discovered a new hobby – but others might have lost a job, found themselves in a very dark place mentally or even lost a close one. You’ll host people loudly proclaiming the virus to be a sham and those who will be visually disturbed by the fear of getting infected.

We’ve gathered the best advice on how to handle difficult situations, what to avoid and how to steer the conversation in a way that will allow your clients to have a grand time at your salon and make them willing to come back.

Know your role

The service industry is a peculiar one – it’s not enough to provide the customer with an exceptional outcome of a given service, you are supposed to deliver an unforgettable experience. This is why you can be the best-trained, most gifted hairdresser or beautician in the world and struggle with keeping or gaining clients – if you lack social skills and customer service is a distant concept for you, you are unlikely to thrive. As most people consider going to their favourite salon a relaxation session, a hair or beauty service provider is usually expected to at the very least be polite and well-mannered – which includes knowing when, how and what to discuss, and when to gracefully back out from the conversation.

In the current situation, many people will come to you seeking relief. They may either want to forget about their daily struggles and throw the virus out of their minds, if only for a few moments, or just the opposite – share their difficulties with someone. Remember that you are neither their family member nor therapist – no one can expect you to deliver professional advice or take the burden of being their confidant on yourself. If you suspect the client to be in need of professional help, it’s best to approach them with delicacy and suggest contacting a specialist (read more about such cases here). Otherwise, the best you can do is to be a kind, courteous person who approaches the client with consideration.

Finally, hearing so many saddening stories may easily compromise your state of mind and mental health. Make sure to take care of yourself no less than about the others!

Safe topics of conversation

Remember, when we talked about salon conversation tips and tricks? In that article, we established topics that are good conversation starters – personal enough for the client to feel treated with due attention, but not too private, so that they would feel uncomfortable. These ideas will still work great if your client is interested in a relaxing talk on a more neutral topic, so definitely check them out!

However, if they keep steering the conversation into the coronavirus-related direction, there are still ways to keep things collected. In such a situation, you can ask about:

  • A new book, movie or TV series they might have discovered during the lockdown and what is their opinion about it,
  • if the client has picked up a new hobby or had an occasion to further develop an existing one during the quarantine period,
  • if they changed something about their beauty routine during this period,
  • what was the client’s experience with taking care of their hair, skin or nails on their own,
  • if they had a moment in which they concluded they want to make some drastic changes in their appearance.

The latest questions are especially fortunate, as they fit your field of expertise and in the best case scenario may even allow you to advertise your retail products a little bit.

Of course, if the client clearly has a much more gruesome experience with the quarantine period and wants to talk on more serious issues, don’t try to make things light-hearted by force – you can make an impression of being insensitive and thoughtless. Aforementioned ideas work for cases in which the client keeps mentioning the topic, but doesn’t seem that bothered by it.

It’s a wise idea to help yourself with detailed customer records. For example, if you suspect (or know for sure) that virus-related topics are a trigger for someone, you can add a customer description in their Versum customer record that will allow you and your employees to remember that you need to be especially careful when talking with this person.

Bad conversation topics

What you most definitely shouldn’t do is bring up the coronavirus topic first. Chances are the client avoids it consciously. And even if the customer is up for such conversation, there are things you shouldn’t tell or ask about. In this situation, it’s important to avoid:

  • Asking if the client knows someone who fell ill (or worse – passed away). You may be touching a highly sensitive topic.
  • Engaging in discussions on whether or not the virus is real. If the customer has a strong opinion on this topic you won’t change it anyway, so everything you can “gain” is a lost client.
  • Discussions regarding the virus’ contagiousness, mortality or how fast it spreads. For many people, such topics may be serious anxiety triggers.
  • Bragging about how good you did during the lockdown. It’s fantastic if you managed to relax, find a new hobby and prevail financially – however, the client might have had mental health issues, lost their job or even someone dear to them. Unless you can be sure it wasn’t the case, restrain yourself from being a little too enthusiastic about this period.
  • Oversharing your personal (or professional) struggles. It’s important to talk about your difficult experiences, but your customers aren’t the right people to have such conversations with. If asked directly, you can share things you are comfortable discussing, but don’t let yourself go into a lengthy rant about the rigidness of reopening regulations or shrinking budget.
  • Being judgemental about the client’s virus-related decisions. Unless they affect you directly, go against the law, safety protocols or your salon policies, keep your opinions to yourself.
  • Being judgemental about the client’s DIY job during the lockdown. It’s a controversial topic – many specialists give a massive side-eye to customers who, for example, coloured their hair during this period. However, try to be objective and understanding. It’s important to ask about it during the consultation, but unless it may negatively affect the service you are supposed to deliver, it would be wise to simply let it go.

It’s now more important than ever to make sure your clients feel good about being pampered in your salon. The first step to providing great customer service is to make sure you know how to handle difficult conversations. By following the aforementioned rules and helping yourself with a smart digital system, you’ll be able to avoid accidental indiscretion and create an atmosphere of true relaxation.

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