Let’s face it – customers are a fickle bunch. In more cases than not, a customer complaint can be traced back to a decision that the customer made previously and is now regretting. They may hope that complaining about it will allow them to alter that decision. “I bought this item but now I don’t like it” or “I’m not getting the results I was promised” are the mantras of the perpetually dissatisfied consumer segment. That’s not to cast all consumers into that category, but we don’t have to deal with the satisfied customers!
So let’s take a moment to consider the best response we can offer those customers who will not be placated. If you’re of the mindset that the customer is always right then there’s really no debate… you simply acquiesce to the customer’s demands and try to “close the loop” from a procedural standpoint to prevent the offending action from ever being allowed to occur again. Of course, this is a little like the tail wagging the dog in that the influence of the least desirable customers determines the course of the entire organization. There is no success to be found following that course.
The other end of the spectrum is a stubborn refusal to take any action in response to even a legitimate customer grievance. This approach backfires by driving away customers en masse, because the only thing worse than a bad business reputation is a spiteful reputation. Even if the customer is entirely wrong and unreasonable, the art of customer service is the art of diplomacy: finding common ground in which each party is willing to give up a little in order to meet in the middle. Come to think of it, there’s probably a good lesson in that statement for our leaders in Washington D.C.!
So if we’re agreed that common ground is where our best customer service opportunities reside, how do we put guidelines into place which can act as backstops for over-compensating a dissatisfied customer? The answer is client relationship management software! Your salon management software should be more than simply a way to turn on beds and track visits – it should provide a framework for staff to document their customer interactions as well as offer enough latitude for staff to exercise some discretion in addressing concerns. There’s a good amount of training that accompanies this requirement, but all of the customer service skills in the world are useless if the software solution in place prohibits any action outside of what’s been pre-approved.
I’ve always taken the approach that a well-trained and ambitious employee is going to make the most of an opportunity to turn that disgruntled customer into a delighted one, but they can only do so if given the proper guidance and latitude. This initiative is well-documented within the software, and if there are any issues that need to be addressed, then the employee can be held accountable. Owners and managers must of course empathize with the employee’s dilemma when the customer was in their face; but if the action taken was inappropriate, gently correct the employee in order that they can do better next time.
The role of the software is only that of documentation and regulation, not that of customer satisfaction; but it can certainly help you if utilized properly.
is the Business Support Manager for Helios, LLC. He is chiefly responsible for Helios’ media and public communication as well as overseeing any training initiatives. Contact Jeremy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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