frustrated women trying to handle a customer complaint from the Neko Salon Software blog.

How To Handle Customer Complaints in Your Spa, Salon or Barbershop.

Handling customer complaints in your spa, salon or barbershop can be an extremely challenging task. Regardless of how great your work ethic, training or staff are, it is inevitable that you will get a few complaints here or there. It’s just the nature of the business. Sometimes things go wrong, mistakes are made or customers are just not happy with the outcome. Whatever the situation, this blog will give you some solid strategies to handle customer complaints with ease.

An Attitude of Gratitude.

Firstly, let us start with your attitude regarding complaints. Try to think of customer complaints as providing valuable insight into how you can improve business, skills or customer service. Be grateful for any feedback and use this feedback to see your salon from a customers perspective. Studies show a whopping 91% of customers choose not to complain and just walk away from your business, so be thankful when a customer complains as you still have the opportunity to make them happy.

As Bill Gates once said “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”. So try to keep this positive moto in mind when you are dealing with a customer complaint.

Listen With the Intent to Listen.

It is important to listen to what your customer is saying and let them finish without interruption. When a customer feels heard they are less likely to become frustrated.

Talk to your customer in a calm and concerned manner and always clarify that you have understood their full grievance.

Try not to get defensive and do not take the complaint as a personal attack. Putting yourself in their shoes can sometimes help you to understand his or her perspective. This also encourages you to feel empathy towards your customer.

Body language is also a powerful form of communication, so be mindful of your own body language. It is very common for people to mirror the emotional signals you display. So keep your posture positive and relaxed and use open hand gestures when talking. Avoid crossing your arms or placing your hands on hips as these positions can cause irritation to your customer.

Apologise. If you are accepting responsibility for the complaint then apologise sincerely. A sincere apology does wonders to defuse a bad situation.

When you make a mistake, there are three things you should do, admit it, learn from it and don’t repeat it. Compensating your client after a complaint is good business practice, especially if the complaint is coming from a regular client.

Once the problem is defined, assure your client that you will be doing everything you can to rectify it. Be tactful, respond kindly and apologise sincerely.

Problem Solving.

Once the problem has been clearly defined and both parties agree on a resolution, act quickly to fix the problem. If the problem may take a little longer to fix, explain the steps you will need to go through to resolve the issue. Remain firm but polite when negotiating a fix and provide compensation when necessary.

Compensating your customer after a complaint is good business practice, especially if the complaint is coming from a regular customer. Research from Consumer Affairs shows that a loyal customer is worth at least 10 times as much as their first visit. Also, retaining your existing client is much easier than attracting new clients. Statistics say that it is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new client than to keep a current one. So, keeping your regular clients happy and being able to handle a customer complaint in an efficient and timely manner is a financial benefit.

So whether you provide a full refund, re-do the treatment or supply your client with a voucher for their next visit, is a matter of your own discretion. Having a clear customer complaints policy for you and your staff to follow can really be an important and valuable tool for your spa, salon or barbershop. A written policy provides a path for staff to take to successfully handle a complaint and can improve response times and also reduce staff stress. This ensures the matter is dealt with swiftly and consistently.

Online Customer Complaints.

Social media is a great tool for business marketing and to gather new clients. Unfortunately, the negative side of social media can be very damaging to your spa, salon or barbershop. When a customer puts up a negative review, the most important step you can take is to address it quickly. Never engage in starting a public argument online. This can be very damaging to your business reputation.

Respond by saying you are sorry to hear about their complaint and ask them to contact you asap to discuss the issue. Meanwhile, send the customer an email or private message asking them to outline the problem so you can gather your thoughts before talking to them.

If one of your staff dealt with the client, ask their side of the story to gather all the facts before negotiating. Try to avoid the blame culture with your staff and provide them with support to understand what has gone wrong.

If the problem can be rectified and the client is a valued regular, entice them back to discuss a refund or offer a VIP treatment to smooth things over. Once the customer complaint is dealt with satisfactorily, simply ask the client to take down their negative review. In most cases the client will be happy to do this. Negative reviews can hang around for a long time on the internet so learning to handle them is paramount to the success of your business in today’s social media driven society.

Pick Your Battles.

Sometimes you will come across a disingenuous client who are just out for a refund or regularly complain about the service provided. Even though we should always put the customer first and try to find a resolution, some people cannot be pleased. Don’t be afraid to decide a client is no longer worth your valuable time. Always take a diplomatic approach, even when you know you are right and try to de-escalate and defuse every situation. Remember, a disgruntled customer has many social media platforms to air their grievances about your business. So sometimes, providing a customer with a refund and politely suggesting that they choose another spa, salon or barbershop in the future can be a great way to put a stop to a complaint and say goodbye to the problem.

It is also worth noting that it is never okay for a customer to verbally abuse you. When a customer crosses the line, don’t accept it. Calmly address the client and tell them you are happy to address the problem but you will not proceed with a conversation until they calm down. Terminate the conversation if you must and reconnect with the client at a later date.

Learn From Customer Complaints.

Thank your customer for complaining as most will not bother to complain and just walk away. The opportunity to learn from customer complaints is absolute gold. They provide you with ways to improve your business and reflect on what not to do in the future. Mistakes should be seen as growth, as long as you learn from them.

You may need to consider training for yourself or staff if the complaint was a skill based problem. Improving skills in the spa, salon and barbershop are a positive way to reduce staff errors.

If you haven’t already, draw up a customer complaints policy for your staff to follow.

Use examples of customer complaints to talk to your staff and develop scenarios of how you could have improved your actions and resolutions. This is a valuable way to ensure staff are well equipped to handle customer complaints should they arise.

Document all customer complaints and record the details on your client cards. The Neko Salon Software client card has unlimited space to record every detail. Don’t rely on your memory as you may need to look back on these records if things are taken further by your client.

Build A Good Reputation.

You will not be able to please all your customers, all the time, but you can build a business based around kindness, patience and a willingness to provide great customer service. So take a deep breath, deal with complaints with an attitude of gratitude and embrace mistakes as an opportunity to flourish.

I hope your have gained some valuable knowledge that will help you handle customer complaints in your spa, salon or barbershop.

If your Salon isn’t already using Neko Salon Software, its time to get on board so you can empower your team to be the best they can be.

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