The challenge of delivering consistently high levels of customer loyalty and retention is the subjective nature of exactly what customer loyalty is and looks like.
What one customer regards as quality service may be completely different to another.
At salons and spas, that same subjectivity exists with employees. Owners and managers must define, communicate and train all employees to deliver customer experiences to maximize the loyalty factor as the salon/spa envisions it.
Without this absolute level of clarity, individual employee interpretations will lead to inconsistent service experiences that compromise customer loyalty.
Information-flow systems are vital to keeping your critical numbers for customer loyalty in front of employees. It doesn’t make sense to complain about low customer retention rates if employees can’t see and monitor the same numbers that are frustrating you.
I’ve done countless staff meetings where, for the first time, I introduced the company’s first-time customer retention rates. In utter disbelief, their responses are, “No way we’re losing that many first-time clients.”
Let’s say that your salon/spa has a 35 percent first-time client rate. How would your staff respond if you announced that you’re going to hang a banner in the front window that says, “65 percent of our first-time customers are unsatisfied. Enter at your own risk.” You’ll definitely get a painful chuckle – but the message will be heard loud and clear.
FACT: At salons/spas, there is an over-emphasis on developing technical skill … and a huge under-emphasis on information flow.
Teams of people cannot, and will not, rise to the level of customer service consistency without having absolute clarity on what that level of consistency looks like … and the ongoing information flow to know how they’re doing.
Absolutely clarity and information flow are the missing links when it comes to driving customer loyalty and retention.
Here is my hit list of eight No-Compromise Leadership strategies you can start using today:
- Post and discuss your first-time customer retention rates monthly: There must be a scheduled debriefing session to relate the importance of the score, what went right and what needs to improve. Keep it short. IMPORTANT: Never post numbers without a debriefing session with staff. The issue with distributing reports without group discussion is how quickly vital monthly reports become invisible. Without this absolute level of clarity, individual interpretations will lead to compromise and inconsistency.
- Track first-time and existing customer retention rates: When customers have most of their contact with your salon/spa through one service provider, client retention accountability carries more weight for individuals. Tracking individual retention rates quickly reveals who your best performers are and which employees need additional training. IMPORTANT: Individual retention reports help identify if an employee is a “black hole,” which means you put customers in his/her care and never see them again. The no-compromise leader must weed out “black holes.” They are doing damage to your culture, profitability and brand image.
- Daily huddles and the “hot list” of current customer loyalty issues: Your team should know that they will be short-handed today or that you’re running seriously low on a professional-use product. You can even give your team a heads-up that a prospective or special customer is visiting your facility and will be taking a tour. IMPORTANT: Daily huddles are all about information flow. There is no acceptable excuse for any salon/spa to not do daily huddles. If you tried daily huddles and couldn’t get them to stick … you flunked “huddles” and need coaching.
- Business is all about relationship building: Nothing is more frustrating to a customer than building a relationship with an employee only to have the individual leave – especially when that employee knew her preferences and systems. For the customer, it’s like starting a new relationship with your company all over again. During such transitions, customers are fair game to your competitors … or even that dearly departed employee who now works for your biggest competitor. IMPORTANT: Team service means that each and every employee takes responsibility for client satisfaction. If you hear any employee say, “That’s not my client” … your salon/spa is not building relationships … individual employees are.
- Create one knowledge vault: Whenever unique customer data resides solely with an employee, the customer/company relationship is tenuous and vulnerable. If client information collected in your business software is incomplete … how can your team properly service that client? Information flow is essential to synchronize knowledge and workflow. IMPORTANT: All client specific knowledge and preferences must reside in every client’s computer record. If your salon/spa doesn’t have the information … it doesn’t have a relationship with its clients.
- Information flow is critical when it’s crunch time: When the appointment book is full and productivity rates are near maximum … it’s crunch time. How can employees be expected to work seamlessly as a team to create extraordinary customer service experiences … without sufficient knowledge and a daily plan? IMPORTANT: Information flow is essential to synchronize workflow, especially in those “this must get done” situations.
- Celebrate your customer loyalty victories: Big or small, a victory is a win for the company and the customer. It can be a pizza lunch with balloons or have the local high school marching band parade through your salon/spa. The point is to send a message to your team that world-class customer experiences are taking place all the time. IMPORTANT: This is the type of information flow that builds and sustains a world-class customer loyalty culture.
- Use retention rate reports in all performance reviews: Every employee wants income growth and career advancement. The no-compromise leader must connect that desire to customer loyalty and retention – to the salon/spa first. There is power in the phrase, “What gets measured … gets repeated.” IMPORTANT: Information flow is the vehicle for constantly delivering the why, what, when and how that ultimately creates the foundation for growing client retention and loyalty. That’s why anything and everything that impacts client retention must be part of every performance review.
Here’s my challenge to you: Every salon/spa owner talks about getting all their employees on that infamous “same page.” The key to that “same page” is to lock into a comprehensive information-flow system of daily huddles, one-on-one’s, team updates, performance reviews, leadership and team meetings. Yes, it’s work. Yes, it takes planning and discipline.
There are no shortcuts for a salon/spa to delight its customers and earn their loyalty. Coordinated teamwork and extraordinary customer service experiences are direct outcomes of a finely tuned information-flow system.
I challenge you to take a critical look at just how well your vital information is flowing.