Clients in Control: Are You Creating the Best Guest Experience?
Building the Foundation
Of course, a strong customer service training program serves as the foundation of the guest-first culture. Council’s New Talent members, who go through two years of training before they are full-fledged stylists, receive almost as much instruction on the soft skills as they do technical skills.
But the hospitality training doesn’t stop once service providers have earned their place on the floor. Van Michael has established 21 customer service standards and each day one of the standards is reviewed with the entire team as part of the salon’s twice-daily lineups (their phrase for huddle). Council says drilling the service standards at this time keeps them at the forefront of each team member’s mind. The standards are:
- As a team member of Van Michael Salon, we will live the standards and values every day and use the portfolio consulting approach—no exceptions!
- No smoking during work shift—either in or out of the building.
- We will adhere to the dress code policy by always looking polished, sharp, proper hygiene, pressed clothes, neat nails, well-shaven, fresh breath, no chewing gum, no eating where our guests can see us, and our hairstyle will reflect the current trends we are trying to ‘sell.’
- We will live $500 attitudes and leave our personal problems at the door.
- We will greet each and every guest by name at every point of contact and show the utmost in courtesy. We will always inform the guest of any wait time.
- Never let our guests see us sweat the small stuff.
- Always escort our guests to their service area and to their next service professional—never point.
- Everyone must focus on booking the next appointment for each of our guests, regardless if it is your guest or not.
- We will embrace S.M.A.R.T. feedback always!
- We will focus on the guest, always remembering that they are the foundation of the salon and that they are NEVER wrong.
- We will provide a sensory experience of a stress-relieving shampoo or massage (or the hand massage) and always offer the finishing touches—not once in a while.
- We will never talk negatively about Van Michael Salons—either in or out of the salon. No gossiping!
- We are empowered to find a solution to every problem. Own all problems you encounter—no excuses!
- Always thank the guest throughout their services.
- Create “Raving Fan” experiences by always being professional, giving world-class service and asking for referrals.
- We will be known as the salon that ‘teaches and educates’ our guests.
- Every employee of Van Michael Salons will treat the salons as if they owned the company.
- We will always practice teamwork and lateral service.
- Greeters will always be at the front desk and service providers at their stations at the time of the appointment. Everyone is responsible for our guests’ wellbeing.
- We will create a positive work environment by focusing on the senses—what the guest will see, hear, smell, taste and touch throughout their visit. Keep the salon clean always!
- YOU ARE ON STAGE: ACT THE PART! Smile as though you really care!
Making a Connection
All companies try to teach their employees about customer service, says DiJulius, but salons have a distinct advantage, “You know who is coming in today. Your stylist knows her 2:00 appointment has two kids, like highlights around the face, just got back from a trip to Jamaica and likes to read People when she’s processing,” he notes. “It doesn’t cost any more or take any longer to record that information and use it to make a deeper emotional connection. But, too many salons miss the opportunity.”
That’s one of the strategies behind DiJulius’ book Secret Service. For John Robert’s, the Service Vision is ‘To be the best part of our guest’s day,’ and it’s a vision that Dijulius says is not only aspirational but achievable. “From the moment your client gets up, she could be making lunches, getting the kids off to school, dealing with traffic, bosses, curveballs—it should be easy to make a manicure and pedicure the best part of her day.”
But even the most talented stylists make mistakes, and the finest salons host unhappy clients from time to time. Which is why it’s key to empower your team to go above and beyond to make things right whether or not an owner or manager is in-house.
When a staff member does go above and beyond to help a guest, celebrate it at an upcoming team meeting, stresses DiJulius. “For example, Beth at our Chagrin Falls location had her last appointment no-show because of inclement weather, so she gathered the keys of all the guests in the salon, went out and warmed up their cars and brushes the snow off their windshields. Sharing that story at a team meeting will encourage the rest of the team to think out of the box on how to create a memorable guest experience.”