Be very specific with customers. (Vagueness is a sure path to lost business.) When handling a service issue, let the customer know what is going to happen and when it is going to happen. The more information a customer has, the less anxious she feels.
“While hearing that someone is going to address a problem is nice, hearing exactly how it will be solved is more comforting,” says Kuzmeski. “When people know the specifics, they feel more in control of the problem and are more willing to partner with you on solutions,” she adds. “On the other hand, if you’re vague about timelines and end up interfering with the customer's plans or even making her worry needlessly—well, do you think she will ever shop with you again?”
Extend a peace offering. In the hustle and bustle of the everyday salon, it is all too easy to get caught up in your own stress, the million things you have to do for your business, and the other million things you have to do for your family. “If this stress gets the best of you and you don’t handle a client properly, immediately reach out and make it right,” advises Kuzmeski. “Even the simplest of gestures can be effective: Offer an apology when you’ve made a mistake. Then, make things right by extending a peace offering. It doesn’t need to be anything extravagant. It can be as simple as a handwritten note, a refund, or a coupon.”
Have a standard service protocol, and some key “recovery phrases,” at the ready. Make sure all employees (including temporary holiday help if you’re in the retail sector) understand the customer service plan and that everyone knows how to work together to solve customer problems. Creating standards, procedures, and methods of dealing with clients and servicing their needs can really help when it comes to resolving conflicts or handling a dissatisfied customer. You might even consider giving employees “key words” to use in tricky situations, says Kuzmeski.
“Sometimes people have good intentions but just don’t know what to say,” she adds. “It’s not unusual for a well-meaning employee to get flustered and say the wrong thing, which only exacerbates the situation. You don’t have to provide a rigid script—just a few phrases like ‘I’m so sorry this happened to you’ or ‘I would feel the same way if I were in your shoes’ can calm a customer down and salvage the relationship.”
Give frontline employees more power. It’s important to empower your employees to become connectors. Often, they might think offering a discount or a coupon is the right way to handle a situation, but they may be worried that you, their leader, won’t approve. Make sure employees know they can and should do exactly what it takes to keep the customer coming back—even if it costs the company or store a little in the short run.