Teaching Great Client Handling Skills

By Bekah Nash

After 20 years in the salon business, we’ve come to the conclusion that client handling skills are the most important skills we teach and are equally as hard to truly grasp for the learner.  As we know, great client handling skills include a lot more than smiling and being polite!  Employees must know crisis management skills as well as just general manners.  This process of teaching these skills is challenging and tiring at times, but there are ways to increase the effectiveness of your teachings:

Determine what skills are needed of your employees.

There is a very simple way to make this determination.  Evaluate your current staff and highlight those employees that exhibit the skills you deem as important.  At that point, just make note of how those employees handle clients and why those skills are important.  Take some time and develop a comprehensive list of the most important skills needed to be a successful part of your team.  This will allow you to get your head around exactly what you’re expecting from each of your employees.

Talk about those skills every chance you get.

Now that you know what skills are most important, talk about them to your staff.  Talk about them in group meetings and maybe throw in a role play lesson periodically.  Add them to your new hire training program and spend a considerable amount of time going over them with newbies.  In 1 on 1 meetings mention them to your employees and highlight areas of excellence and improvement for them as an individual.  Creating an ongoing dialog about client relations will exponentially increase your staff’s ability to provide consistently great service.

Get your client’s feedback REGULARLY.

With the many advances in social media it’s very convenient for your clients to tell you about their experience.  In our salon we use an online marketing service called DemandForce.  This allows our clients to leave clear and concise feedback about each of their visits with little effort on their part.  Using this program has clued us in on areas of excellence as well as areas that are in need of a little shape up.  Many times we’ve used the reviews that have been submitted in coaching sessions with our employees.  If you don’t already have this program or one like it, we strongly encourage you to consider it. 

Remember client handling skills when conducting interviews.

Create some open-ended questions that you can add into your interviews with potential employees.  Things like: “If a client expressed dissatisfaction with your work, what would you do?” or ask them to role play with you how they would greet a client when they’re running behind schedule.  Ask them the question then be quiet and listen!  You will know if this person is a potential fit based their answers to questions like these.  This also shows the interviewee that exceptional client handling skills is high on your list of priorities.

Ensuring that our clients are beyond satisfied with their level of service no matter which one of our employees is serving them is what each of us envision for our salons.  And while this is a lofty goal, it is very possible.  The key to achieving this is understanding that you will always have to work on it for the life of your salon.  By keeping the conversation current and continually getting your client’s feedback you will see the level of customer service in your salon improve dramatically!