How to Deal with Customer Complaints
Despite your best efforts, chances are you’ll need to deal with customer complaints at one point. How you deal with them is an important skill to master as a salon, spa or clinic owner.
You may believe that the service you offer is faultless, but a customer may not always agree. With that in mind, you need to hear them out. “Put your defences down and really listen,” says psychologist Annie Freeman. “Our natural tendency can be to deny any problem, especially when we see any complaint as a personal attack. It’s not personal, it’s business. So unfold your arms, get rid of your annoyed facial expressions and really listen.” As tempting as it may be, don’t interrupt. “Bite your tongue if you need to, but listen all the way until the end,”says Annie.
It may taste like grit in your mouth, but thank the customer for their feedback. “This isn’t always going to be easy, but thank the customer for their feedback,” says Annie. “The fact is, they had a choice of whether to raise the matter with you and give you a chance to rectify it, or to give you a poor review with their peers. Be grateful for the opportunity to fix the issue.”
Were they expecting a different result from their treatment? Have they had this treatment before? What would have made their experience better? “If their answers suggest that your business was in fact at fault, take it on board,” says Annie. “But if their answers suggest a misunderstanding on their part – and this is the bit that can be hard to swallow – don’t fight back. Simply suggest that perhaps their expectations weren’t aligned with that you were offering and ask how you can make the experience better next time. A lot of the time, a customer just wants to be heard.”
After consideration of the complaint, it’s imperative that you make good on any justified complaints – a botched hair colour, for example. If the customer is willing, offer to fix the issue to their satisfaction and move on. However, if the issue isn’t something so easily fixed – say, a complaint about a staff member, offer an apology and perhaps a bonus treatment at their next booking.
Defend your staff
This should go without saying. Assuming you have hired staff that you trust and that this is a first-time incident, assure the customer that this is a surprise but that you’ll look into it. “Throwing your staff under the bus should never be am option – it tells them that they’re of little value to you, and does nothing to foster loyalty,” says Annie. Rather than ignore it, Annie suggests speaking to your staff member privately, in a respectful manner to see if you can get the whole story.