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5 Guidelines for Handling Complaints

In a world where client retaliation is instant and detrimental to your business, the importance of perfectly handling complaints is at an all-time high. The likelihood that your managers know how to handle a complaint is probably fairly high. But how about the teams on the front-lines? Pass along these 5 solid tips on handling a raging client before they unload online.

#1 – Watch for Red Flags

Perhaps the hardest thing about handling complaints is spotting the non-confrontational sorts. A large majority of complainers don’t actually like face-to-face conflict and feel much more comfortable leaving and making contact remotely, or even worse, telling everyone else about their experience online. Learn to spot signs of a less than satisfied client – no eye-contact, short and rushed responses, closed postures, pursed lips and quick responses during the rebooking segment of their check-out to name a few.

#2 – Build in Some Alone Time

It’s important to create an environment where the client feels comfortable expressing their feelings. In some customer service policies, service providers are encouraged to see the client through check-out and out the door, but this keeps the client caged into a potentially confrontational scenario if they were to say exactly how they feel. Make sure there is a hand-off process where the client has some time with another member of the team where the service provider is well out of the picture. This is good practice even if the red flags aren’t readily apparent at first.

#3 – Ask Better Questions

[quote align=’right’]The goal is to get them talking before they leave your front¬†door.[/quote]Try to work in a genuine satisfaction question that is more open ended than: “How was everything today?” It’s just too easy to offer up a false, one-word answer. When your front desk senses that the client is less than friendly on the check-out, train them to ask them how they feel about their service. If they still get one-worded answers, ask more questions until you get a descriptive answer. The goal is to get them talking before they leave the doors. Some examples:

  • Do you like the lighter color on you?
  • What do you plan to do on your next visit?
  • Do you like how bangs look on you?
  • Will you get the same cut next time?
  • What will you change on your next haircut?

These questions force the client to tell you more specifically how they are feeling and shows that the front desk team is paying attention beyond canned responses. Tone and body language also play an impact on the success rate of getting the client to open up, so get your store managers to practice delivering these questions.

#4 – Perfect the Hand-Off

Have you ever been seated in a restaurant and the chef, or owner, makes his way to the table to ask how everything was? Even if your steak resembled a weathered saddle strap, you immediately felt that the experience was elevated slightly. Replicate this buffer in your business and train your team to initiate a manager tip-off. It can be as subtle as a ear tug and meaningful glance or even introducing the manager directly to the client as a way to tell the manager they may want to have a conversation in a quiet area. Some businesses have seen some success doing this in a private station where the managing stylist can evaluate the work and do an exit consultation. However you design this at your business, train your team to announce a code red when necessary.

#5 – Build in Safeguards

You’ll never catch them all before they walk out your front door, drive home and sit in their driveway on Yelp. Put a safeguard in place with an automated survey that goes out via text or email asking for their feedback. This gives them the opportunity to virtually vent in a private setting before they post in a public forum. Even if they end up doing both, chances are the intensity will be reduced by getting the opportunity to tell the business first.

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