By Laurel Nelson, contributing writer with Salon Today
Author and speaker Joey Coleman is passionate about the customer experience. He has spent a career researching and understanding why people stay loyal to certain businesses—and why they leave others.
“Customer retention is the biggest crisis facing businesses today,” he says. “It’s where your business lives and dies.”
But he maintains communication is the key to keeping clients. Here are six of Coleman’s tried-and-true methods for communicating effectively and purposefully for better client retention.
1. In Person
Salons have a HUGE advantage over other businesses when it comes to face-to-face interactions. Clients sit in your chair anywhere from 20 minutes to a couple of hours. Maximize this time by looking them in the eye, sincerely conveying your commitment to them and watching their body language for subtle cues.
Inexpensive and easy to track, email has become a primary communication tool for many businesses. Because of this, consumers are often overwhelmed by the amount of email they receive. Don’t get lost in the cyber shuffle. Email communication should be personalized and on purpose. You can make clients feel special simply by adding their name to an email communication, or taking it a step further and sending an email on their birthday, anniversary or other special day.
Nobody’s using snail mail anymore, right? It’s true, very few businesses are relying on direct mail, which means there’s less competition in the customer’s mailbox than in their electronic inbox. Physical communication has become more novel in a digital world. Give your clients an emotional high with a handwritten thank-you note sent directly to their home.
Picking up the phone to call a client and let them know their appointment has changed or to ask them how they are liking their new hair color is a personal way to communicate (no automated calls!) and establish a relationship with a new client. Some clients prefer a text message, which can be just as effective. On average, texts are replied to faster than email, allowing for a “conversation” to take place in the client’s preferred method of communication.
We know our customers are consuming videos everywhere from YouTube to Facebook, and they can’t get enough. You’re probably already posting how-tos, but are you using this video to communicate directly to clients? A simple informal video shot with your phone can be an effective way to get your clients to take action. Try texting clients a video of your top stylist talking about upcoming promotions and closely track the results.
Finally, to seal the deal and really show your client some love, give them a gift. Note: A coupon for 20 percent off a future purchase isn’t really a present for the customer—it’s a present for the company that will hopefully be used to increase your sales. The same goes for anything with your logo on it—that’s a free marketing tool you’re hoping other people will see. BUT a travel-size of their favorite shampoo to take home is a wonderful gift. Or maybe you know your client’s favorite ice cream shop is next door to the salon. Give her a gift card as an unexpected treat.
Retaining clients is about connecting with clients. Use these six communication tools to show your clients you care about THEM and watch your retention increase.