Early on Friday mornings I get together with a group of women for a little coffee, gossip and community. These women are in their early 40s, represent middle income to affluent households, and balance their lives between work and domestic management. As I looked around the table this week, I thought, “These women are a good representation of the target market many SALON TODAY readers are trying to reach—I bet they’d make a good focus group.”

Knowing that your most dangerous client is the one who doesn’t voice her service concerns to her service provider or to you, but who quietly complains to her friends, I asked them about their recent salon experiences and what things really got under their skin. None of these women work within the professional beauty industry, and I have to say I was surprised at their knowledge and sophistication about the inner workings of a salon. In a time when customer service is the key to maintaining and growing your business, I think these comments provide some valuable insight into your too quiet customers:

“I understand my colorist double-books appointments to boost her income, but I hate it when my appointment takes way longer than it should and it inconveniences me. And once, she actually got so busy she forgot about me and my color over-processed—it was a mess.” —Robin

“I am really grossed out when I walk back to my stylist’s station and there is hair on the floor from the previous client. Usually she’s in the process of sweeping it up, but I really don’t like to think about it.” —Wendell

“I hate it when I get a stylist who is uncomfortable maintaining a conversation and there are long awkward silences.” —Kathleen

“But I hate it when they chat too much! That’s my time to relax.”—Carol

“I’ve had a stylist who’s actually dropped a brush on the floor, picked it up and continued using it on me.” —Sharon

“I love my salon, but there seems to be a double standard. Whenever I show up for my appointment, they always get me in on time. But when I book a service for my son, it always seems like he has to wait 30 minutes or more. I know they aren’t making as much money off of him, but I’m still paying $25 for his cut and I usually buy products too.”—Jessica

“Hmm, I don’t know—I really love my stylist, I don’t have any complaints. If anyone is looking for someone really good, let me know.”—Erica

“It really irks me when they use all these products on my hair during a service, but don’t tell me what they are using. Then I get home and I can’t recreate the style. I don’t want a long, lengthy sales pitch, but I do want their advice about what products would work for me and why.” —Wendell

“Speaking of products, I was a loyal Kerastase user before I moved here so I sought out the only salon in town that carried the line. I went in when I needed to replenish products and started asking questions. The girls upfront didn’t know anything about the line. I even asked them, ‘Doesn’t someone come in and train you on these?’”—Kathleen