Hair business is people business

Hair Business is People Business”

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As an educator in the Hair Industry, I find it most difficult to help students comprehend the significance of Customer Service and how it contributes to their success. If they haven’t already been in the work force experiencing the complexities of this activity, then it can be somewhat a challenge to teach. Unfortunately, and quite often, it’s not until they become licensed that they realize customer service drives either their lack of or abundant success! POW, it hits them like an icy slap in the face from Old Man Winter.

Customer Service is defined in the dictionary as The provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase.” While this may be the dictionary definition, it is more multidimensional.

Nordstrom’s Department Store, long hailed as the exemplary model for providing excellent customer service, warrants its success to one tool according to Wikipedia: “every employee receives a handbook which is a card, one side says it’s our commitment to provide outstanding customer service always,” and the other side simply says, “use good judgment in all situations.” Intriguing, yet it must work. Nordstrom is in Fortune Magazine’s “Hall of Fame.”  I recently read an article I found fascinating: 50 facts about Customer Experience” In the “Return On Behavior Magazine,” here are some statistics to consider:

  • 91% of unhappy customers leave and never return
  • Dissatisfied customers will tell 9 to 15 people about their experiences (probably more with the dawn of social media)
  • 55% of customers would pay more to guarantee better service
  • It takes 12 positive experiences to overcome 1 negative experience.

What about the Hair Industry? What do leaders in the field of Cosmetology have to say about Customer Service? In an interview with the Director of the TONI&GUY Academy/Bellingham, KarlyTygret, says with conviction, the formula to success as a stylist is “90% Customer Service and 10% technical skill.” She went on to say, when she worked in the salon, “customers came to me because I got excited and it was my goal to give each of them the total experience.”

I‘ve been known to share many of my experiences with my students including my thoughts on the sustainable power of customer service as a Hairdresser. I have story after story; here’s one I tell frequently: I hired a newly licensed stylist, Tammy; her technical skills were below par for the higher end salon we were, but her personality was charming and enduring. She truly had passion and wanted to learn. Needless to say, I had to fix her haircuts and redirect her daily. However, time after time, clients called and requested her and while they admitted the haircut wasn’t the best, they appreciated her outstanding customer service: Tammy went the extra mile to make my experience special.”She treated me like a King or Queen. Tammy was tapped in to the secret to success as a stylist. Are you tapped in? Here’s my thought: technical skills can be taught, Customer Service, well, more of a task. However, it’s not a lost cause, and there is hope, go ahead and jump for joy—you can learn the art of customer service if you are willing to try, willing to try again and again until you find that magic formula; then dedicate your career to the marvelous and mystifying complexities of customer service. Can I get an Amen? (Rhetorical question people)

In a recent conversation with the Salon Owner of The Grotto in Fairhaven, Bellingham WA, Karly Lane, said:The advice I would give is treat each guest as if they are a visitor to your home. Welcome them with a smile and be genuine. Listen to your guest during the consultations and make recommendations based off what you mutually agree on. That is service.”

Tabatha Coffey, Hairdresser, Salon Owner, platform artist, writer and reality T.V. star, states: “The most important thing to provide is excellent customer service every time! Make sure the salon is clean and inviting. Offer beverages. Acknowledge them with a smile when they come in. Don’t keep them waiting, conduct a thorough consultation every time and be prepared for recommendations. Keep your work consistent and be professional with a personal flair.”   In the book “Raving Fans,” Author Kenneth Blanchard attributes salon success to the “5-Sense Plan,which involves, yes, you guessed it: the sense of sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch. To summarize, he’s suggesting the salon needs to be cleaner then the client’s home, smell like a bouquet rather than a chemist lab, present refreshments tastefully, provide aesthetically pleasing music which caters to the customer rather than the staff and finally, touch. Yes, massage the client 3-5 minutes during the shampoo. For us hairdressers, we’ve long know the secret of the 5 minute shampoo and massage.

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Our clients deserve our best. It’s not rocket science, but it is a science you can put to practical use that will guide your client retention and referral to the moon and back. Here are some of my own tips in no particular order of importance: greet with a smile, never over promise and under deliver, be honest with heart, listen and repeat, understand your client is your billboard, be professional & always maintain the integrity of your client’s hair, educate yourself than educate your clients. Get involved in the community. If it’s raining, grab an umbrella and walk the client to her car. Offer them not just coffee but be their personal barista if they so desire. Don’t offer them water in a Styrofoam or paper cup, offer them filtered water or a bottle of Perrier- champagne in crystal glasses.

Remember: Your client is the star in your chair whether it is act one or act five of the day.

Thank you for reading my humble thoughts in writing.

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