With a reputation at stake, the competitive hair and beauty business requires a vigilant approach when it comes to dealing with difficult clients. Especially as the industry is built solely on loyalty, customer satisfaction and, most importantly, word of mouth recommendations.

As with any service industry, it is likely that not all clients will be satisfied and that some difficulties will occur. Secretly you may want difficult clients to simply disappear, but good business practise means that salon owners often have to grin and bear it and deal with difficult clients in the most effective and professional way possible.

Dealing with common problems in the salon…

Running behind on appointments

It is often the case that a stylist’s schedule has run slightly behind, which is of course annoying to the client if they haven’t been properly informed of any changes to their appointment. Always make sure that your clients are fully briefed if a change has occurred, offer hospitality and ensure regular communication is kept to avoid any tension. If the client does however becomes agitated, offer your apologies immediately.

These kinds of situations can be easily managed by giving this customer an appointment when your schedule is less likely to be behind, perhaps early in the day. When they call for their next appointment, your receptionist will take this information into consideration when booking the date.

Related: How to manage client information effectively

The client doesn’t like their cut or colour

If it is the case that your client doesn’t like the style, which happens to everyone from time to time, just be patient. As long as you’ve done your best work, you shouldn’t worry.

To avoid this kind of issue arising, always carry out a cut or colour consultation before your client comes in for their appointment. If your client is then still unhappy after their final treatment, gently remind them that you did exactly what they asked for during the consultation process.

Try to get your client to explain what they don’t like about the style. It could possibly be that they don’t like the way you dried and styled it. Remember that constructive criticism will only make you a better stylist.

Related: The importance of consultation

Things to remember when dealing with a difficult client…

It starts with professional, customer service

As service providers, your stylists and therapists must fulfil the very best standards of customer service at all times. After all, they are the embodiment of your salon and are the people who clients return to time and time again. Ensure that your salon staff are polite and friendly with a positive energy. This is an easy way to present your salon as a great environment.

Related: How to make clients feel welcomed in your salon

Diffusing anger from a difficult client

Anger is most likely the dominant emotion in a disgruntled client’s mindset, and therefore it is very important to not become angry in return. If a client is making a scene at the front desk, invite them into an office or side room, away from the other clients. This can then be discussed properly. As a salon owner, it is important to remain cool and calm whilst showing as much empathy as possible whilst offering a solution.

Position your salon as compassionate by following up…

If you’ve presented a solution to a client’s problem with your service, it is always worth going the extra mile by following up to check they are satisfied. For example, if you have had to refund a client, give them a call 10 days later to ensure they money has gone through. This method may buy you a second chance from the client, but failing that, it will at least leave them with a more positive mentality towards your business.

Alice Kirby from Lockhart Meyer Salon Marketing shared with us her best advice on why it is so important to deal swiftly with grumbling hair and beauty clients and how best to do it.

3 ways to turn a grumbling hair or beauty client into a happy one…

  1. A simple, but sincere, apology is the best place to start. It takes the wind out of their sails when you say “That must have been very frustrating for you and I’m sorry you feel like this.” Be careful. Saying sorry they feel that way does not mean accepting blame.

  2. People like choices. It makes them feel less boxed in and ¬†more in control. So if at all possible suggest a couple of alternative solutions. Another useful tip is to focus on what you can do to help them, rather than what you can’t do. Sounds obvious but it’s not so easy when faced with a seething customer.
  3. Do it. Take action there and then. Let them see you’re as good as your word and customer service is your salon’s priority.

Even the most prestigious salons encounter difficult clients from time to time. The skill is all in how you deal with them. When dealt with in the right way, your salon’s reputation need not be affected and difficult clients may very well turn into regular clients visiting your salon time and time again.

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Other posts in the Salon Management series: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT OPENING YOUR OWN SALON | HOW TO BUILD LOYALTY WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS