We’re back this week with the final piece of our four-part mini-series on keeping clients. Over the past few weeks we’ve talked about consistency, brand ambassadorships (specifically, why you should be your own brand ambassador!) and we even touched on those last-ditch retention efforts for reeling in the clients you haven’t seen in a while.
Now, we want to dive into the appropriate way to handle those contentious conversations in order to keep your clients coming back—even after a big mess up or miscommunication—because we’ve all been there.
Tip #4: Ask Questions to Answer Problems
In business, we all used to live by one rule: “The customer is always right!”
Sounds familiar—right? Well, while there is certainly some truth to the statement in that a client’s opinion should always be both honored and respected. Of course, we know that our clients can be and are sometimes in the wrong. We’ve all been there, and sometimes we even upset our favorite frequenters or our most loyal guests after raising our prices or enforcing our cancellation policy.
Regardless of the issue at hand, as a salon owner, doing good business means meeting your clients halfway and working together to find a solution that suits both parties. So, how do we do this?
Whatever You Do, Don’t Defend or Explain
Let’s start with an example:
Say you have a client who has been coming to for several years. She’s had to reschedule a few times but she’s not a serial canceler and she’s only missed one appointment by mistake. So, you allotted her one “grace” period and the rest has been smooth sailing.
Her next appointment is approaching and she calls to cancel within the 24-hour window because she forgot to do it earlier and she’s actually out of town. You have to charge her, but you let her know that you’re only charging her 50% of the cost of the service because she wasn’t technically a no-call, no-show. Of course, that means she still has to eat upwards of $100 and she’s not happy.
Our immediate reaction is to defend and explain. We want to defend our decision to charge her card on file by re-iterating our cancellation policy and reminding her that she’s already used her “grace.” Of course, the client already knows this, but she’s frustrated. Not even necessarily at you, but at herself for forgetting to cancel the appointment in the first place. Yet, you’re the one taking the brunt of it.
Instead, Aim to Acknowledge and Question
At this point in the conversation, the client knows that she has made a mistake, and perhaps quite a costly one. While on the surface, she might feel frustrated with how you are choosing to handle the situation, deep down she knows that she’s at fault. And ultimately, she just needs to feel heard.
Instead of trying to defend yourself and explain your actions, aim to acknowledge the client’s feelings and ask her how she would like you to proceed given the circumstances.
Lauren, it sounds like we’ve had a miscommunication, and I don’t want you to feel blind-sided by this charge. We do have to honor cancellation policy, but fortunately, you gave us enough notice that we’re only going to charge you for half of the cost of the service instead of the total ticket. Is there anything else we can do to ensure that we’re on the same page moving forward?”
Rarely are you going to have a client that says, “Well, I’d like you to drop the charge.” Because that simply isn’t realistic and they know this. You could even take it one step further by offering legitimate solutions for next time.
It looks like you’ve opted out of our text reminders and you’re only receiving appointment reminders via email. Would you like me to include you in SMS reminders as well?”
As long as you acknowledge the client’s frustration, your client will feel better about taking ownership of their own mistake and suffering the consequences. Good customer service always ends in a win-win situation, so you’ve got to work with your clients in order to find a perfect solution for both parties.
We’re big on booking and retaining clients here at Meet Your Stylist, which is why we created this amazing marketing tool, and more importantly, why we decided to share it with all of you!
If you are interested in learning more about Meet Your Stylist, you can sign up for free demo here.