In the professional hair and beauty industry, salons and spas are often seen as sanctuaries of peace and tranquillity where clients visit to sit back, relax, and indulge in a treatment that leaves them feeling great. While this is the case most of the time, occasionally, you may encounter individuals who are disrespectful, demeaning, and destructive. Dealing with “bad” clients like this can be challenging, but doing so is a crucial aspect of maintaining a positive salon or spa environment. In this blog, we will explore the differences between demanding and disruptive clients, as well as the steps you can take to “fire” a bad salon client for the comfort and safety of both your team and your valued customers.
The Difference Between A Challenging And A Bad Salon Customer
Tony Alessandra, renowned American best-selling author, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker, once wisely proclaimed, “Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game.” At Phorest, we hold the same belief, always emphasising the paramount importance of client retention for the success of your salon. To achieve outstanding customer service, you should ensure that your clients not only return but also become loyal advocates of your salon. You can find out more about how to achieve this in our Client Retention Guidebook.
Yet, in the unpredictable world of service industries, challenges can arise. There will be times when a client’s behaviour becomes unruly, negative, demanding, or otherwise disruptive. The key to dealing with this type of behaviour is not to hastily categorise every difficult customer as a ‘bad’ one, but rather to differentiate between challenging clients (or clients who are having an off day), and those who genuinely pose a problem.
The Challenging Client:
We define challenging clients as those who have had an unsatisfactory experience with your business and have expressed their concerns, usually in an impolite or unpleasant manner. An unhappy client, while sometimes hard to deal with, often holds a passion for your services and a deep concern for good customer service. When their issue is rectified properly, they can become extremely loyal to your business.
While it can be difficult to hear someone complaining about your team and/or business, listening actively to these clients can be beneficial to the running of your business and can help smooth any processes that may not be working. By addressing the concerns of one challenging client, you not only resolve their issue but also improve your services for many others who might share the same sentiment, even if they remain silent.
Research indicates that for every customer who complains, as many as 25 others may have had a similar negative experience but chose not to voice their concerns. Addressing the concerns of a challenging client can have a far-reaching impact, enhancing the experience for numerous clients.
The Bad Client:
While everyone has their off days, as a salon or spa owner, you must be prepared to respond when interactions with a client become consistently problematic. Spending even a small percentage of your time dealing with bad clients can create a negative atmosphere in your business that will affect your team and visitors.
Here’s how to identify a negative salon client that should be addressed:
The Chronic Complainer: These clients are over-demanding and consistently find fault with your services, no matter how exceptional they may be. Assess whether their complaints have merit and could be constructive, or are just designed to put you and your team down.
The Time Consumer: Clients who monopolize your time with frequent cancellations, no-shows, or a lack of punctuality can be challenging to manage effectively and can disrupt the entire flow of your day in the salon.
The Liar: Trust and integrity are foundational in any business relationship. Never compromise your honesty and reputation due to pressure from a client, who may try and gaslight you or your team with lies to receive free or discounted products and services.
The Abusive Personality: Clients who exhibit short tempers, use offensive language, act aggressively, or insult staff should be addressed swiftly to maintain a positive and respectful salon environment that keeps the safety of your team as your number one priority.
Now that you know how to recognise the differences between a challenging client and a bad one, let’s explore some strategies that can help you handle each type of client appropriately for the best environment possible in your salon or spa.
When Enough Is Enough: How To Ban A Problem Client
If a client is consistently “bad” and their actions affect your salon atmosphere and team, it’s time to cut ties and ban them. While banning a client is not foolproof and can sometimes result in additional short-term conflict between your business and the client (people rarely take kindly to being banned from businesses), going about it in a professional and calm manner will streamline the process.
Here are some of our tips for a relatively smooth client removal process:
Back-Up Claims with a Robust Paper Trail
Before confronting a client and asking them not to re-visit your salon, ensuring you have a robust paper trail that backs up your claims is vital. This protects you if a client disputes your claims and also helps keep track of the bad behaviour your client has been exhibiting. Whether you’re banning a client for consistent no-shows or bad in-salon behaviour, you can accurately track this in your Phorest system using detailed client notes and no-show notifications, which trigger a notification when a client who regularly no-shows tries to book over the phone.
Similarly, if you want to ban a client from booking online but don’t mind them calling the salon to schedule an appointment, Phorest’s online booking allows you to set this up on a client-by-client basis in a discreet manner.
| Related: Learn how to end it with salon no-shows in this blog
Remain Positive & Professional
Even if you’re delivering bad news, people react better to positive interactions. No matter how difficult the conversation with clients is, be sure to speak in a calm, respectful, and professional manner. By starting the conversation on the right foot, you can minimise the conflict that may arise and protect your own peace, walking away from a difficult conversation knowing that you kept your cool.
Stand Your Ground
When approaching difficult conversations with bad clients, don’t insult them by saying things like “our team finds you difficult to deal with” or similar. Instead, re-frame the situation and speak in a more solution-focused manner. An example of this would be saying; “this “x” request is outside the scope of what we can offer, and it sounds like that’s a dealbreaker” or “it seems like we haven’t been able to keep you as a happy customer.” Again, this limits the amount of conflict that can arise and highlights the issue more unbiased and objectively, while still allowing you to stand your ground.
Refund If Appropriate
If the client insists, consider offering a refund as a gesture of goodwill- if it’s appropriate and would help resolve the issue. Doing this can demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction and can stop the client from feeling like you “owe” them something for their dissatisfaction.
Suggest An Alternative
Your services might not meet a client’s needs, and that’s okay. If this is the case, it can help alleviate tension if you explore alternatives that could be a better fit for the client, for example, recommending a different salon or spa in the area. If this is an appropriate solution that could help alleviate conflict, have an honest but firm chat to get your point across.
Phorest Tip: How to deal with a negative online review
In this day and age, your online reputation can make or break your business. That’s why it’s so upsetting when a difficult client leaves a bad Google or social media review. If this happens, it can be helpful to respond to the review politely and professionally, giving your side of the story. This can help negate new clients seeing a negative review and basing their decision to attend your business on it.
Phorest’s Online Reputation Manager can help you reply privately to bad reviews, keeping them hidden so that only the people who have access to your Phorest system can see them. This can be an effective way of managing reviews and ensuring your public online reputation remains untarnished by unreasonable clients.
Protecting Your Peace When Firing a Client
While nobody likes to have to “fire” a bad salon client, sometimes this is vital to safeguard the happiness and safety of your salon, your team, and your other clients. Keeping these problematic customers away can also help protect your business’ reputation. No matter how difficult the situation, remember to back up all claims, remain respectful and professional, and put your business first; the future will thank you for it.
Ready to partner with a salon software that steamlines client management?