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It’s all peace and love when a customer is nail happy. God bless the nail tech stepping into a face-off with an unhappy one. It’s a rite of professional passage but it doesn't sting any less. Who doesn’t want to avoid painful and emotionally deflating scenarios? So how does someone safely navigate the unpredictability of salon customer service? With a combination of real world experiences that spans person to person, manufacturer to domestic/international distributor and direct to consumer exchanges, we share a few practical ways to ensure your customer service represents the good you want to put into the world.       

Close your eyes. Can you envision a fully booked schedule with the most appreciative clients in town? Who are these mythical creatures and what services are they seeking? As a nail pro are you clear on what gifts you have to offer? Do you accept your limitations? Do you operate with professional boundaries in place?  Are you able to communicate your talents and ask for the proper compensation? What is the source of your job satisfaction? What would make the experience satisfying for your client? This is a great place to start. When we are happy with the nature of our work; we can pass that energy on to our customers.  

From clients down the street or across the time zones, our work requires us to service clients with diverse expectations. Even the most well-intentioned business owner will bump up against a code red situation. This is a customer who has flipped their lid and entered full rage. The best way to de-escalate the tension is to communicate directly on the phone. The heat of anger may have you putting gears in reverse to back out of the confrontation. It might feel easier to hide behind a text or email. This is not the time for that because empathy does not translate into the written form. The first thing to do is center yourself with a deep breath. Believe it or not when someone is upset, these negative feelings really aren’t necessarily about you. With a calm frame of mind, the goal is to offer this person your complete attention and compassion. Shut your mouth. Hear them out. Seriously, just listen.  Let them get everything off their chest. Do not say a word or interrupt. When they are done doing that, it’s now your turn to speak. Repeat back word for word what you heard.  Mirror with communication their frustration and apologize. Good customer service does not mean that you make yourself a punching bag for bad behavior. Allow them to vent but do not allow them to disrespect you with obscenities. Now engage them with how you will make the situation better. Plan to go above and beyond to repair what might have gone wrong.  By the end of the conversation,  you will have kept a customer. They will be very happy with the way they were treated that they tell everyone about their positive experience. This approach to customer service can turn an angry customer into your most loyal one.

How can you transform an in-person crisis into a gesture of compassion? Everybody’s going through something, right?  Evaluate the situation and always move forward with kindness. Is the client requesting a refund for a damaged product or a worn out broken nail? Investigate the issue. Consider the possibility of a mistake on your part or suspect behavior on theirs. The customer isn’t always right but we should agree to do our best to remedy the perceived wrong. If a customer’s upset, let’s not dismiss their concerns. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Try to see things from another perspective. Give that nail a little extra attention and we’ll all be on our merry way.

Every customer encounter is a chance to really make someone's day. Check in, if the appointment or conversation is headed south. Did you remember to fill up your emotional/nutritional/nocturnal gas tank? If not, take 7 minutes to slow down. Get present in your body.  Next, stay curious and investigate the clues. Just pause, no need to get defensive.  Give yourself a second before firing off a written digital response. What would’ve motivated you to send a complaint text or email? Prepare for that person and yucky triggering scenario. Compose a script in advance in case you're worried about being too heated yourself. How would you want to be engaged? What would you need to make things better?  Texts and emails leave too much open to interpretation by either party. What does “OK” mean in a text if I’m having a bad day and you’re not? In your written digital communication, it’s safer to side on being extra super duper nice.  You’ve got emojis. Use them. They often can soften the tone of the message.  

Is it you or are you with a passive aggressive customer (someone for whatever reason is unable to speak up on the spot)? What if you get a complaint, ten minutes after they walk out the door via text? The best way to avoid this is a service closing salutation. Literally ask them if they are happy with their nails. Try something like, “Ok, we’re done!  Will you do me a favor? Take a good look…does everything look good? Things might look different from your angle. If you see anything, just let me know so I can take care of it.”  Acknowledge any bubble or bump they might find. Touch it up and confirm with them that you got it. Thank you, have a nice day and now on your way!  This can also happen with color; it’s such a tricky thing. Run a color test on one finger. Get their approval and only then move on to all ten fingers. If after the set is complete, the client still feels the color is wrong. The scripts with kindness can be,  “I think the color looks great on you. Let’s wear it for a couple days. Right now that's all the time we have together. If it still doesn’t feel right we can try to squeeze you in for a polish change.” At this point, you’ve done all you could to accommodate the client’s needs. They’ll have to accept a color change when your schedule next permits.  

Good customer service. What is it? Phenomenal customer service is building a good clientele. Treat them well. Be clear with your booking policies. Be on time. Respecting yourself and other customers equally. Allot the time to focus on them when they’re in your chair. Respect is a mirror of the giver and the receiver. Issues pop up and sometimes you can’t just fix it right away. Customers are welcome to have regrets. You deserve being compensated for your time. A customer may request a set with some serious length but do they know what this really entails? Discuss any accompanying lifestyle issues. If when you’re done, they’ve decided that they can’t live with what they’ve chosen, what might customer service look like? Empathy and time permitting, a charge to file them down. No shame. No guilt. No judgement. They feel appreciated. You feel valued. Everybody wins.

**This is an adaptation from our YN Biz Talk playlist on YouTube, BIZ TALK: HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE which originally aired on April 15, 2021.

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