You are not your customer.
Obvious. Yes. But why does it matter?
Because it’s too easy to assume you know what your salon clients want.
But you don’t know.
The chances are your likes, dislikes, tastes, expectations and interests are very different from your ideal target client. Moreover, you view your hair or beauty business from a completely different perspective to a client.
If you want to truly understand what your clients think, want and believe about your salon or spa nothing beats actually talking to them.
In this blog I’m looking at the steps for getting better customer feedback:
- Understand the value of client insights.
- Agree feedback goals.
- Target the right clients.
- Incentivise salon clients.
- Tips for the feedback ‘interview’.
- Ask the right questions.
- Act on the feedback.
Client feedback is priceless for growing your salon
Today’s hair and beauty clients expect more, and better, service for less money. Understanding exactly what your clients want, then giving it to them, is a simple prescription for a more successful and profitable salon or spa.
Yet clients are often reluctant to tell you how to improve their hair or beauty experience (unless they’re having a good moan when they will let you know all too loudly). Ask clients to fill in a feedback form or pop ideas into a suggestion box and they can become perplexingly quiet.
Set up a series of informal ‘client interviews’, except you don’t want the client to see it as an interview, but just as a chat.
I do this marketing exercise with many of the salons we work with. It’s surprising how often clients mention things the owner or manager hadn’t noticed.
Here’s how you can do it:
Step #1: Decide on your customer feedback goals
Clients have busy lives so keep your chat to 20 minutes maximum. With this tight time frame you need to decide on a specific area of their customer journey to focus on.
You could look at:
- Their booking experience (on phone, in salon and online).
- What they think of your salon facilities.
- Their thoughts on your treatments and services.
- Views on your website, social and email marketing.
- Ask them about your retail.
Just focus on one aspect of your hair or beauty business and get detailed feedback.
I find the best way to brain storm topic ideas is to mentally walk through a typical client’s visit. Start with their phone call to book their appointment and end as they walk out of the salon door.
Step #2: Which salon clients to interview?
Wondering which clients will give you the best insights into your business?
You probably only need interview 5 or 6 clients for each topic as patterns usually emerge quite quickly.
It’s tempting to ask familiar faces who you enjoy a natter with, but they may not be your best choice.
I’d choose a selection of your ideal clients. You want more of these ideal clients so it makes sense to ask them how you can improve their customer journey.
A quick recap:
Your ideal client is the ideal fit for your hair or beauty business.
- love the treatments you offer
- are easy to service
- buy frequently from you
- are always recommending you to their friends
- and therefore are highly profitable.
Now select a cross section of ideal clients and ask if they can spare you some time (more on how to approach them in a moment…).
I’d have a mix of:
- age groups
- new-ish clients
- loyal regular high spenders
- a spread of treatments/services used eg hair colour, advanced skincare or nail clients.
A cross section ensures you get a mix of views and ideas. Someone who’s been a hair or beauty client for years won’t necessarily ‘see’ things in the same way as the fresh eyes of a new client.
Step #3: Ask salon clients to help you
You’re asking a favour so always contact clients yourself.
Ask if they would mind arriving early at their next appointment and offer an incentive. This could be:
- A longer treatment if they are booked for a massage or facial.
- A complimentary Olaplex or similar treatment for a colour service client.
- A free treatment if they are booked in for a lower price service like a mani or pedi.
During the coronavirus lockdown then pick up the phone.
Step #4: The client feedback interview
- Find somewhere quiet where you can’t be overheard – pop to the local café if it’s easier. Clients aren’t going to voice their concerns or criticisms in a busy salon or spa in front of your team.
- Tell them how helpful and valuable their views and opinions are to you. Make them feel special.
- Use their name at intervals throughout the interview, but don’t overdo it.
- Rather than launch straight into your questions establish some rapport and put them at ease with some brief chit-chat. Clients will open more if they feel comfortable and relaxed. Then start with an easy question. I look at what questions to ask next, so keep reading.
“Clear feedback is the cornerstone of improvement.”
– Sir David Brailsford, Team Sky General Manager
Step #5: Ask the right questions for honest feedback and insights
- Have your prepared questions to hand but don’t feel you have to go through them all. See where the client takes you – you may be surprised at something they mention and want to follow that line of thought.
- Your questions should be open ones (they can’t be answered with a straight ‘yes’ or ‘no’) which encourage your client to talk. Listen. And learn.
- And don’t suggest answers with the question otherwise you’re influencing them with your views and you want their views. Remember my starting point: “You are not your customer”.
NO: Do you find our reception helpful when it comes to booking your hair or beauty appointment? For instance, does the phone ring out a lot? Is it often engaged? Would you find online booking useful?
YES: Do you find our reception helpful when it comes to booking your hair or beauty appointment?
- You may well disagree with some of your client’s comments but don’t spring to the defence. Avoid the urge to “put them right” and tell them why they are wrong – you’ll just make them feel awkward and then they won’t be honest and open with you. No-one wants their head bitten off when they are trying to be helpful.
- When they raise an interesting point don’t leave it there; explore it further – you may need to gently prod to get to the root of their frustration or disappointment. “How did you feel when…” “Why did that make you feel….”
Step #6: Take action
And the last step…
Act on the feedback you get.
Don’t waste clients’ time asking their views unless you are prepared to act on what they say.
Remember: you are not your customer. Listen. Learn. Act.
Put yourself in your clients’ shoes
Just imagine how you’d feel if next time you took your car for a service someone took the time to ask you about your experience in depth, instead of a half-hearted “Everything OK?” as you hand over your credit card.
Off the top of my head I can think of a number of small (but helpful) improvements my garage could make to add to my customer experience.
Your hair or beauty clients may well be able to do the same for your salon or spa.
If, on your next garage visit, you saw one of your ideas had been implemented how would you feel? I suspect chuffed that the motor dealer thought your opinion was so valuable.
“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”
– Bill Gates, Founder, Microsoft