Have you ever had to fire a salon employee for their erratic behaviour or a foul attitude? Probably. But, what about a bad salon customer? Someone whose name is enough to make you cringe… Sure we’ve all heard the saying “the customer is always right”, but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with everything and anything. Sometimes, things don’t go exactly as planned in a business relationship and it’s okay to recognise it and let go.
The Difference Between A Challenging And A Bad Salon Customer
Tony Alessandra, an American best-selling author, entrepreneur and motivational speaker in the fields of sales and marketing once said: “Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game.”
“Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game.”
At Phorest, we believe retention is the most important metric when it comes to running a successful salon. With this in mind, your number one priority regarding customer service should be to ensure your clients are happy and loyal. This can be done by hiring employees who excel at that, but it can also be achieved in many other ways.
However, things don’t always go as planned. When a customer gets out of hand or starts to show signs of bullying, unreasonable demands and all that resembles, you need to address the problem. The only thing is that you can’t write off every challenging customer as a bad one. You need to learn to make the difference between both.
A Challenging Client
Demanding customers are those who have had a bad experience with your business and told you about it. When a customer is unhappy, it means that in some way, they are passionate about what you provide and good customer service matters to them.
Transparency is vital, and you should treat the complaints of salon customers as a free critique. Why? Because without knowing, how can you monitor, measure and improve your service or turn those salon customers back into happy advocates?
Additionally, different research papers have found that for every 1 complaint 25 people share that same bad experience, except they don’t tell you about it. By addressing the problem with that one challenging customer, you also improve your service for many others.
A Bad Salon Customer
Everyone has bad days. But when push comes to shove, you need to be able to react. Even if you’re only spending 1% of your time on bad clients, that can add up real fast. So what’s a bad salon customer, realistically?
- Chronic complainer/Overly Demanding: This client never has anything good to say about you or your business. You know you’re providing a world-class service, but they can never be satisfied and always find something to complain about. You do however need to be able to ask yourself if their complaints are valid. If so, these clients are an asset.
- Time Consumer: This kind of client makes you feel like they want to block off your entire day. They email or call several times a day, frequently cancel appointments or simply don’t turn up and insist on being able to reach you at all times.
- Liar/Stealer: Trust and integrity are the foundations of any healthy business relationship. Don’t let yourself be pressured into anything dishonest – your reputation is at stake here.
- Abusive Personalities: This concerns short-tempered clients, those who use foul language, insult or scream at staff and/or slam the phone when they don’t get what they want.
When Enough Is Enough: How To Fire A Problem Client
If you find yourself dealing with a challenging customer, handle the situation somewhat along these lines and set yourself apart from other salons.
- Respond promptly.
- If it’s a negative review or comment online, take the issue offline and contact your customer privately.
- Be polite.
- Request that defamatory salon ratings be removed.
- Take negative testimonials seriously.
- See the good in the bad review.
- Share the negative comment with your team and build a customer-centric mindset within your salon.
However, as a last resort and if you’re indeed dealing with a bad customer, there are measures you can take. They’re not 100% foolproof, but they should help you cut ties without launching a war. Bad customers are time-consuming and often cost many times more to keep happy than your other clients. But going through the next steps means you’ve tried everything else beforehand.
Your Plan Of Action
- Remain Positive & Professional: Even if you’re delivering bad news, it has been shown that people react better to positive interactions. Start the conversation on the right foot.
- Stand Your Ground: Don’t insult the client (our team finds you difficult to deal with, etc.). Instead, re-frame the situation and go for something like “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.”
- Refund If Appropriate: If deemed appropriate, refunding the client on certain services can help, as it’s considered to be a gesture of goodwill.
- Suggest An Alternative: Your services might not meet that customer’s needs, but it doesn’t mean they don’t need a replacement for what you provided. Have an honest chat, but be firm, and get your point across.
You can’t afford to let a bad salon customer affect you, your business, and other clients. “Firing” a client might seem like an odd step for many, but if you’ve come to suffer from their repeated actions, perhaps it’s time to say goodbye.
Thanks for reading,