The Art of Building and Maintaining Client Relationships
When it comes to working with clients, it doesn’t matter if you are the best lash stylist, facialist or brow artist in the country: if you can’t effectively build and maintain positive relationships with clients, they aren’t going to want to come back to you.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take pride in your work; naturally I think you should strive to do the best you can at whatever it is you do! It’s important to do a consistently great job at every service you perform every time – but in my opinion, it’s not the most important thing when it comes to working with people. Besides, if your client feels comfortable with you, they’re more likely to feel confident giving you feedback, which will help you grow even more as a stylist or therapist.
While it may take you time to learn new skills or master difficult techniques, improving your client relationships is something you can start doing straight away, and it will cost you nothing but a little effort.
I believe that smooth and confident client/therapist conversation is integral to creating a positive client relationship. However, over the years I’ve found that talking to clients is a skill that not all stylists and therapists have learned, so I’ve compiled some of my favourite tips to help boost your success.
Start on the Right Foot
It’s really important to greet your clients in the right way. I believe we should treat every client as though they are a VIP, whether they’re new, a regular or not a favourite.
Show them that you’re happy to see them, but make sure you match their energy. If they are softly-spoken and reserved, you being loud and excited may make them feel uncomfortable. Be warm and friendly, make eye contact, and smile big under your mask – let it show in your eyes! Keep your voice at a calm pace (don’t rush your words) and speak at a moderate volume: not too loud, but not a whisper either.
And if they’re new – please remember to give them directions. Show them where to put their belongings, invite them to sit on the chair or lie on the bed. When people know exactly what to do, they are instantly more comfortable.
Strategies for the Introverts
Maybe you are normally quiet and serious, or by nature not very chatty or outgoing. That’s ok – you don’t need to be! However, it’s important that you make an effort to talk to your clients in a way that you’re comfortable with. Some people find silence awkward and uncomfortable, which may lead to a less pleasant overall experience.
- It’s a good idea to have a few open-ended questions that you can rotate through, such as:
- What are your plans for the weekend?
- What have you been watching on Netflix lately?
- Make the conversation about them – most people love to talk about themselves, so you can start a conversation by asking them general questions. Keep the questions broad to avoid it feeling like an interrogation – you don’t need to know that many details to keep the conversation flowing!
- Don’t give fake compliments – only compliment someone when you really mean it. Fake compliments almost never sound authentic and you will lose credibility with your clients if it becomes your routine.
- Try to remember specific things your regular clients tell you, such as holiday plans or events. You can even keep notes on their file to help! Remembering specifics not only gives you something to ask them, but it makes your client feel like they are important to you because you remembered something they told you.
- Look at your schedule ahead of time to prepare yourself mentally. If you know you have a high-energy client coming in, you can pep yourself up before they arrive.
- Talk them through what you’re doing in the treatment. You can educate them about things like their lash growth cycle, tell them the features of a particular product you’re using, or recommend a new treatment that they might like. The added benefit to this strategy is that it’s also a great way to sell products or upgrade services.
Suggested Subject Matter
We’ve all heard the Golden Rule of the topics to avoid at a dinner party, and basically the same rule applies to client conversation.
Sometimes, your client may take the conversation in a direction that is inappropriate or makes you feel uncomfortable. It’s best to try to steer the conversation back to safer areas subtly – you don’t want your client to feel dismissed or rejected.
Try giving a vague response, an answer that doesn’t openly agree or disagree, and then immediately ask a question to turn the conversation and discourage the client from continuing. A good question should be open-ended or ask for more detail about something mentioned previously.
This deflection tactic does take some skill, but it is so important, especially if you work in an open salon environment, or if you don’t want to answer questions from your clients about your personal information and beliefs.
Clients who don’t chat
Sometimes, your client may not want to chat with you, but feel that it’s rude to say anything. Instead, they may give you some signs:
- They have brought headphones along with them
- They give short responses and don’t ask questions, so the conversation doesn’t flow
- Deep breathing, quiet voice, closed eyes
- They may say, “I might fall asleep” which in my experience, usually means “I want to nap”
If you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to ask! Many clients who are too shy or don’t know what to say will appreciate the simple question: “Would you like to chat during your treatment, or would you prefer a quiet environment to relax?”
Alternatively, you might not want to chat – it may slow you down, or be dangerous for your client to be moving their face. Once you’re settled in, you can let your client know that you need to concentrate now by saying something like, “I need to concentrate on your lashes now so I probably won’t be too chatty. Feel free to relax and even doze off if you like; I won’t mind at all. Are you comfortable?”
Whether you finalise payment or leave your client with your receptionist, it’s important to see your client off properly. Sales and rebooking tactics aside, there’s a very simple 3-step formula you can follow to leave your client feeling valued as they leave their appointment.
- Thank them for visiting.
- Mention something you talked about during their treatment, such as an upcoming event, and wish them a good time/success.
- Give a farewell that assumes you’ll see them again soon: a simple “see you next time” is friendly and relaxed. Or, you could combine this with the previous point, for example, “I can’t wait to hear about the wedding next time!”
My final point is, whatever way you choose to interact with your clients, the most important thing is to make sure you are authentic and friendly. Above all else, if your clients feel valued and respected, this will leave more of an impact on them than even the most luxurious treatment.
Original article written and published for Beauty Biz Australia Magazine.