July 2011

Charlene Abretske

Beauty Business Buzz | Charlene Abretske


Know Your Clients and Boost Your Retention

"Great customer service equals client retention in any business."

This statement sounds so simple. Yet, it makes one wonder why some businesses thrive, while others do not.

Many factors go into the overall customer experience. Think for a moment about the last time you took a customer survey. There were multiple questions, which seemed to have nothing to do with the product or service purchased, correct?

You may have asked yourself, "What does a clean restroom have to do with a sale price on a dress?" or "What does it matter if the person taking my dinner reservation asked if we were celebrating a special occasion?" However, targeted questions are one of the best ways you, as a business owner, can understand what your clients expect from you.

Customer service, in the eyes of a client, begins when you exceed their expectations. Without knowing what is expected of your business, you may be wasting valuable time, money and effort, and wondering, "Why isn't my business growing faster, when we have a friendly, talented and organized staff?"

Conducting a client survey is the first step in finding out which areas you are doing well in, as well as where you may be falling short in the client experience.

Constructing your survey is crucial. In order to get the most from it, you need the assistance of someone who has an objective point of view. I have worked with many salons over the years that were pleasantly surprised to find out the areas they were concentrating on were not the areas that needed improvement. When they actually found out what their focus should be, they were far more successful with concentrating their resources. Only after you complete a survey, can you begin to target your efforts with high efficiency.

Use "Freebies" for Info

There is a wealth of online resources out there for your clients to share what they love or wish was better about your business. However, remember that these do not replace a client survey. In case you have not noticed, search engines now pull up a map of a geographic area when you search for them online. When you click on the locations of businesses, along with it comes reviews pulled from several sites, like Yelp or Citysearch, automatically.

Your clients and prospective clients see others' experiences with your business whether you like it or not. If you were looking for a salon in your town, would yours be the first choice based on the reviews that show up? There will always be reviews that are unfavorable, but you can address them and try to "make it right" when possible. As a business owner, you should see every opportunity you have to correct an unhappy client experience as a gift.

Sometimes client retention is aided most by fixing a chronic issue that plagues the same types of business as yours. As you are looking at the reviews on your business, also check out the other salons in your area and see what is prompting clients to sit down and post a comment. Most of the time you will notice they are either raving about how great the experience was or ranting that something went wrong.

Check out the rants to find out what "one thing" you can focus your efforts at striving to perfect. One example is that you may see rants about clients being unhappy because they felt they were not listened to by their technician and were unhappy with the result. Use this feedback as an incentive to invest in training for your staff, and uphold the standard with a guarantee that your consultations will provide them with the look they wanted or their service is free.

Another example of this usually revolves around having to wait too long for a service to begin. Revise your scheduling system if it is not working, and when it is working, then guarantee it. Putting your money where your mouth is, after training and revision is extremely effective in achieving client satisfaction and ultimately, retention.

Even if a large percentage of the feedback you receive from your clients is overwhelmingly favorable, getting some invited criticism can still really sting the ego. Getting defensive is a natural reaction when the things we care about are under scrutiny. When someone is criticizing, you must remember to respect his or her honesty. As much as we may not like to hear it, we still have to appreciate the candor of our critics in order to move forward.

We all sometimes wonder why our efforts are not working out the way we expect them to, and it is good to wonder. Getting to the truth is where you must begin, if you hope to create the "thrive" instead of "survive" mentality in your business.

If you need assistance with constructing and delivering an effective client survey, please contact Charlene Abretske at (760)453-1882.

Charlene Abretske is an independent business advisor. To reach her email charleneabretske@gmail.com or call (760)453-1882.