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How to deal with client complaints

Satisfied clients are essential to a successful hair or beauty business. However, no matter how hard you work or how great your treatments are, it is inevitable that you will encounter angry clients at some point in your career. Research shows that clients whose complaints are dealt with quickly and effectively become more loyal than clients who have never complained. Follow our top 10 tips on how to turn a disgruntled client into a happy one.

Unhappy client

1. Listen

All clients and complaints are different so listen carefully to the client’s complaint and do not interrupt. Show empathy and let them know their opinion is respected and valued.

2. Figure Out What the Client Wants

Ask open questions - what, when, where and how - to establish what has happened and what the client wants. What would make them happy? Do they want a refund or just a repair? How can I keep the client?

3. Keep Calm

Never raise your voice or enter a slanging match with a client. Keep your cool, try not to get defensive or take things personally. If the client is making a scene, if possible, take them to your office or a spare room to discuss the situation away from other clients. You don’t want to spoil their treatments.

4. Apologise

Saying sorry can diffuse the situation and accepting you made a mistake shows maturity. If you are sure you are not at fault, apologise for the way the client feels, rather than the situation – ‘I am sorry you feel that way’ apologises to the client but does not accept blame.

5. Make Amends

Always try your best to rectify the situation there and then, showing the client how important customer service is to you and hopefully putting them off from heading to social media to slate your business. Rectify any mistakes free of charge and consider offering a discount on their next treatment. A small gesture can go a long way. For example, fixing a client’s chipped gel polish and giving them a complimentary bottle of cuticle oil or nail lacquer.

6. Follow Up

If you have resolved the client’s problem, e.g. with a refund or discounted or free service, follow this up with a phone call a few days later to check the money has gone into their account or that they were satisfied with their free/discounted service.

7. Be Positive About Future Encounters

Don’t let one difficult customer knock your confidence. Learn from your mistakes and move on. Even if you do not believe you are at fault, do not let a bad experience with a client taint their future appointments. Don’t dread seeing them again. Wipe the slate clean and treat them like you would any other client. Make sure, as always, you carry out thorough consultations in the future, ensuring the client is happy with the service you are going to provide, the cost and length of time it should take. Thorough consultations also let the client know they are being listened to and that you care about their desires and expectations.

8. Know When to Say Goodbye

While dealing with complaints is part of any hair or beauty job, you are not there to be abused or intimidated. If a client becomes too much, politely and tactfully thank them for their business and refer them to another salon that should be able to meet their needs.

9. Stop It Happening Again

Learn from your mistakes and use complaints to identify weak spots in your business. For example, waiting times, aftercare advice lacking. Do what you can to reduce the chance of these problems reoccurring. Get a complaints procedure in place and make sure all staff are familiar with it. Role play can also help here.

10. A Handy Tool to Remember - L.E.A.R.N

  • Listen
  • Empathise
  • Apologise
  • React
  • Now