So, you think you know how to talk to your clients right?
How many of us are still trotting out the well-worn “so where are you going on holiday “or the ever popular “are you doing something nice today”.
In fact, we have trotted those lines out so many times that they have become synonymous with the beauty industry, and I guarantee you every salon junior is still using them as the ultimate ice breaker.
Remember that your goal when engaging with a client is to connect with them not just to fill the silence.
Here are some tips to help improve your client engagement and create the connection that turns a new/occasional client into a loyal client:
1. What’s your opening line? Spend some time going through what your client wants from the treatment, what is the ideal end result? This will get your client talking and help to relax them in the knowledge that they have had the opportunity to describe what they are after and you have listened and acknowledged what they want. Even a simple blow dry should be approached in this manner, no matter how often you have done this client’s hair. Once you’re clear on what your client wants from the treatment you can now relax into conversation, a good starting point is look for common interests or experiences, such as living in the same town, watching the same tv programme etc
2. Don’t forget the non-verbal’s, research carried out by Mehrabian’s rule of communication showed that 93% of all communication is non-verbal so it’s crucial that you get this aspect right. Be conscious of your facial expression, try to keep it as neutral as possible. Ensure that you make eye contact and that you use short verbal cues, such as yes to show engagement with what your client is saying, nod and smile in the appropriate places and when the client has finished speaking try to rephrase what you have heard to show you were listening and that you are checking your interpretation is correct. Famous FBI negotiator Chris Voss talks about this and calls it “mirroring” …. it’s basically repeating the last part of someone’s phrase, so they know you’ve heard and understood what they said, but it also allows them the comfort to keep opening up!!!
3. Be professional, I know we all want to feel part of a community and encourage a laid-back friendly feel, however, don’t forget you are a business and that all client consultations are in fact business transactions. Always remember to stay professional, that doesn’t mean you can’t be friendly and chatty, but it does mean respecting the boundary of client and professional. Deal with issues politely as they arise and remember that old adage that the customer is always right – even when they are wrong. Be mindful of topics discussed with client’s and ensure that you don’t stray into emotional /contentious topics such as politics or religion or worse catty gossip. Never ever be drawn into discussion about other client’s even if these clients are personal friends, it’s not professional to discuss client’s with others and it reflects badly on your business overall.
4. Respect your client’s time. Ok so this may not strictly be a tip on client chat but its important to consider when you’re thinking about your client communication strategy. Your client, like you have a period of time allocated for this treatment, don’t hold them back from leaving by being overly chatty, and never leave a client sitting waiting for their appointment while you chat to the client you have just finished with. We expect our clients to respect our time, so we need to show that we respect theirs too.
5. The final tip is perhaps the most important, listen more than you speak. This appointment is about the client experience not yours. Let them talk freely about subjects that are of interest to them. They really don’t want to listen to you ramble on, so stop and listen. Take the cue from your client and don’t impose your need to cover the silence.
While these tips may seem obvious, it would surprise you how often we don’t follow what we already know. So, the next time you have a booking for a new client, stop and think about how you plan to communicate with them, in the same way as you would give consideration to the treatment you are about to undertake. These tips may also serve as a useful checklist for your staff to follow.