This article came out of a simple friendly conservation whether a small business could benefit by investing in Customer Loyalty. Of course, we all started talking about restaurant (we all have our favorites) but the ladies present stirred the conversation to hair salons. Obviously, all discussed below applies not only to barber shops too, but also to a wider spectrum of businesses
Why are we writing on Hair Salons today? If not often – at least sometimes, inspiration and best practices can come from the most unexpected sources.
By the way, hair stylists/ hair dressers work in a type of business with a very high customer churn- rate. In that business, financial success requires keeping your ‘beauty-chair’ filled with clients all day long. Any successful hair salon has mastered the art of customer retention, and their secrets to their success are the type of lessons that are applicable to almost all entrepreneurs.
Who is your customer?
Whether you are keen on Big Data Analytics or in love with all these KYC (Know Your Customer) ‘paraphernalia’ , these things are not realistic for a small businesses, especially starting ones or ones with small budgets (due to economies of reality).
We identify the following types of Hair Salon/ Barber Customers:
⦁ The Plain Guy/ Girl. They just want to have their hair done, so thrills, no chat, no elaborate stuff.
⦁ The Queen/ The Big Boss. They expect to be treated like a Queen or King or any other kind of Royalty; they demand to be pampered and treated as they are the most important Customer- the ONLY important customer! That simple!
⦁ The Trendy One. Tell them about the latest hair style trends, new products, explained all this to them, make suggestions. These people are genuinely serious about learning and hearing all that stuff.
⦁ The Chit-Chatter. They view their Customer Experience as a social event. They seek a personal relationship with your business- they expect to be chatted constantly during their visit. Please them too please.
⦁ The Sophisticate/ the Inquisitive one. They have a simple expectation: tell them what you are going to go with their hair (i.e. explain to them in real-time who you are delivering your services) – they want to know and been kept ‘updated’ during the whole ‘hair- process’. Sometimes this type of customer-type is ‘combined’ with any of the other 3 types above.
Tip: we hope that it is obvious to you that these type of customers exist in all other sorts of business, whether a product- or service- offering business. Aren’t you one of these for example whenever you visit a restaurant?
How important is Sex in Hair Salons?
We are glad that we got your attention. With sex, we are referring to gender and not to the pleasurable act.
We just want you to be aware that Gender can sometimes play a role in Customer Loyalty.
In the case of a hair salon, a man usually wants his hair done and his loyalty would be to the salon and very rarely to the barber. Women bond with their hair stylists and tend to follow them to a new salon if they switch employer; it seems to be a best practice that if a female client has an appointment with a hair stylist who is sick today, it might be better to reschedule her appointment or let her know before you randomly schedule her with someone else.
Making your Customer Loyal.
Besides classic customer satisfaction and high-level of hygiene (people do freak out for example when they see a dirty toilet, dirty towels and employees with dirty fingernails or body odor that tells that an employee has taken distance from daily showers. etc), here are a few tips.
- Train your people. Start with the basics: train ALL your employees in Customer Care and Customer Loyalty (or whatever you want to call that training)
- Know when to chat and how. The ‘perfect’ stylists should be able read their customers and know who has come to the hair salon and look forward to a long ‘chit chatting’ session. Of course there are those who prefer to relax and enjoy quiet time. If not sure- ask please.
- Give them the most amazing experience – from start to finish of course! And don’t underestimate how much attention any customer can pay to every single details. It’s all these miniscule details that do add indeed in a fully amazing customer experience. Customer experience is a differentiator and it does lead to Customer Loyalty.
- Exceptional customer experiences will not only create Customer Loyalty but also active promoters, who will recommend your business to others.
- Let them speak & hear them. Be transparent and mature and ask your customers to provide you with their honest feedback about what they like, what they really enjoyed and what they are not so positive about. Talk to them. Give them the opportunity to voice their opinions please. If you don’t listen to them, your competitor will!
- Keep them informed and involved. Tell them in advance what you are about to do, get their customer agreement (e.g. if you think that their hair would look better a tiny bit shorter, ask them before you proceed cutting them); ask in a graceful manner for their continuous feedback.
- Offer them on- the- spot personalized discounts, while servicing the customer. It is a lot different to tell them about an ongoing discount than to offer them to do ‘this thing’ (whatever that is) with their hair at a discount the next time they will be visiting your salon.
- Obviously, implement a Customer Loyalty Program.
- Delivering value beyond their expectations. Yes, that simple and it is all about perceived value.
- Evaluate. Whatever practices you might chose to implement to increase Customer Loyalty, evaluate whether they really work for you, whether they are sufficient or even whether they need fine-tuning. That should be an ongoing process.
When is the last time that you asked any of your customers how would they like to be served?
Remember: Customer Satisfaction is a just a First Step
The reason that most small businesses are hung up on customer satisfaction and not loyalty is due to the perceived notion that once the customer is satisfied with a product or service, they will become lifetime buyers. In reality, the customer is most likely just hanging around in search of a better alternative. When such a customer stops patronizing the product, instead of critically analyzing the cause of the departure, more money is rather invested into another round of advertising and client acquisition. Then the newly acquired customers hang around till there is a better offer and they leave. And the cycle continues unabated with another round of customer acquisition. Small businesses must know that satisfying the client is indeed the first stage of the loyalty building process, but they need to invest more in maintain their relationship with the customer.
Again always keep in mind -please- that a happy, delighted and satisfied customer is not ‘automatically’ a Loyal Customer
Can Automation Help? How?
In 2017, almost anyone has access to SMS or WhatsApp. Sure you can use email, but the ‘impact’ it is not instant- it can be read in a second or in a day or even in a week if ever at all (don’t assume that you will not end up at someone’s spam folder or that you cannot get blacklisted by Google).
Are you busy? Cool! So are your clients! And they do get forgetful – aren’t we all busy?
It can’t be that difficult to send someone an SMS or a WhatsApp message with a text like: ‘Dear Madame (or Sir), it has been 8 weeks since you last visited us. Would you like us to contact you and book an appointment for you please?’ (or something similar in content).
Why will you do that? One simple reason please: to get your customer in sooner which means they spend more with you annual, this equals more money/ more cash flow for your business. A personalized approach like that, it is very likely to ensure and even increase customer loyalty. Isn’t that what we should be after?
Obviously you can do all sorts of SMS & WhatsApp promotions and run ‘Specials’ marketing Campaigns. But like the Ancient Greeks said: Παν μέτρον άριστον = Do everything in moderation. Don’t bombard your customer please with overfrequent communication noise!
Back to ‘personalization’…
Don’t you like it when at the very moment that you step into a (new) hair salon or any other business, you are greeted with a smile and possible a simple drink offer (that been water or coffee or tea)?
How about when you receive an email or a message like “Great to to meet you” or “Thank you for trusting us with your hair, we hope thatyou like your new ‘hair’ (or whatever you want to call it)”? Or even a simple “Happy Birthday” message followed with a discount offer?
Doesn’t that create the sense of a great experience? Won’t you feel ‘compelled’ to go back to that place again?
By the way, when was the last time that the salon which you patronize did this? Hmmmmm….
Today there is no excuses for any businesses not to think about customer service and not to build Customer loyalty. Plus, there are so many tools are available that make it easy. For example, MailChimp (this is just an example not a recommendation!), and so many other tools can deliver emails or other form of messaging automatically even at set dates. Worth exploring it, please
How far can you go to get Loyal Customers?
Powerful example: ‘As a client of the W Salon in Burke, Va., you get a lot of perks: a cupcake as soon as you walk through the door, invites to runway shows, the inside scoop on the latest fashion trends and you won’t be harassed by your stylist to buy more hair products — the salon has a “no oversell” policy. Instead, all products are sold through the salon’s virtual W Magazine that customers can access through free WiFi internet’ (source/ full article: http://www.businessinsider.com/brilliant-customer-service-is-driving-250-customers-a-month-to-this-high-end-salon-2012-3?IR=T ).
That Salon gets 250 new customers per month – no data on Customer Loyalty though.
Whether you are the Hair Salon of this example or any other business, please invest the time to brainstorm and come up of unique ways to reach out to your customers.
And make it genuine- show to them that you actually care about the customer and not their money. Remember, it is always the little things that matter most to all of us.
Think differently! Find your own unique ways to make your customers Loyal ones!
The Loyal Customer is a long term relationship and s/he would generate a constant stream of income over the years.
So, would you really want 1000 Satisfied Customers? Or 1000 Loyal Customers?