Remove the risk – introduce a client consultation form

Perhaps it’s happened to you; a client comes into your salon for highlights and a cut, they show you a picture, and – like the highly competent hairdresser you are – you create exactly what they have asked for.

Despite seeming to be happy with the outcome, the next day the very same client returns demanding a refund, as ‘it’s not what they expected.’ What do you do?

Through discussions with industry leaders and representatives, salon software provider Timely have found that more and more salon owners are having to deal with this sort of client. “It’s what people are doing now,” one business owner told them, “demanding refunds, without giving the salon a chance to rectify.” And thanks to social media, complaints – genuine or not – are increasingly being published on public platforms. While large corporations can often recover after a PR disaster of a post, smaller businesses like local salons may not be so lucky, with previously stellar reputations completely destroyed by a single piece of feedback online, regardless of whether it’s fact or fiction.

So what can you do to protect yourself, your staff, and your business?

Communicate effectively

In customer-facing industries like hairdressing and barbering, relationships are everything. The connections you make with your clients will ultimately determine your success and regulars will often become good friends outside of the salon. Like any successful relationship, the secret to keeping things running smoothly is effective communication.

“97% of hairdressers claimed they give a consultation at every appointment. Only 7% of clients believed they’d received one.” – Lockhart Meyer

Although many salons make use of automatic SMS messages to communicate with clients once they’ve left the premises, the focus on effective hairdresser-customer communication needs to start as soon as they walk through the door.

Offer an exceptional client experience

Regular clients aren’t going to be the ones demanding refunds. They’re regulars for a reason: because they love the experience that your salon provides. More often than not, disgruntled, refund-demanding clients are first timers. They were either surprised with the client experience they received, or perhaps even stepped over the salon threshold with a refund already in mind.

But whether the appointment is with a familiar face or a fresh one, the client experience should always be foremost in your mind. The easiest way to improve a customer’s experience is to make sure you both have a clear idea of why they’re there and what you’re going to be doing. Set expectations at the start, and then meet them. That’s where the client consultation process comes in.

Always conduct a comprehensive client consultation

Your main goal with a consultation is to fully understand the client’s needs and expectations, and get on the same page. The secondary goal is to document this in the client’s record, so that you can refer back to it if necessary.

Get things off to a good start by greeting the client with a warm smile and introducing yourself. Begin to develop that friendly rapport your regulars love you for before you even begin the consultation.

Once you do get chatting about what the customer wants to get out of the appointment, a consultation form that the client fills out themselves – to avoid any miscommunication – should ideally be introduced.

It should cover questions like: ‘What are you hoping to achieve with your hair today?’ ‘What is your current hair care routine?’ and ‘What styles and colours are you loving at the moment?’ Once completed, you should also go over the consultation form in detail with the client to clarify any grey areas. When you’re happy you’re both happy that desires can be realistically met and limitations have been outlined, file the form with the client’s other details. Now you can get on with providing your exceptional client experience!

Many salons have already implemented a process like this, and are reaping the benefits. It means that if refunds or redos are being demanded at no fault of the stylist, the consultation document is there to fall back on.

And the introduction of consultation forms needn’t mean a build up of salon admin. As more and more business elements switch over to digital, clients will more often than not be be filling them out via consultation apps on iPads or iPhones, before and after photos will be taken, and all this information uploaded to the client’s profile stored safely in the cloud. It will be seamless, and simple. A perfect client experience, with no room for complaints.

Timely Salon and Spa Software has developed a solution: Consult for Hair Salons – a free, easy to use client consultation app that makes the consultation process a breeze. The best part? It’s free to everyone, not just Timely customers.

Learn more about Timely’s features and how it can help your business>

Download Consult for Hair Salons on the app store>