It started with a simple inquiry from a prospective client who e-mailed to say that she wanted to book an appointment with me, but first she wanted to know if I did “full acrylic and not sculpt?”
This was pretty confusing wording, since most people use the terms “full acrylic” and “sculptured nails” interchangeably. So I e-mailed her back to let her know that I sculpt acrylic on forms, as opposed to using tips which are preformed plastic nails that get glued on.
Her e-mail said, “I’d prefer nails, since that’s what I’m used to.”
We did eventually hash that out, but I was pretty frustrated. Then I got a call from a woman who wanted to know, “How much is a set of gel nails?”
Well, as a tech who has offered gel enhancements since day one, I know that — at least in my local area — a lot of people out there have never heard of such a thing and only associate “gel nails” with gel-polish. So I don’t just jump into a quote for services based on my assumption of what the client is asking about, and this call was no exception. I took a moment to clarify: “Are you interested in a set of gel enhancements or gel-polish?”
It’s not that I was surprised that she had never heard of gel nails as an enhancement service, but there was all the stammering and “uh-uh-ing” before she said, “What’s the difference?”
I politely explained that gel enhancements are done with builder gel and used like acrylic to make nails longer, where gel polish is more like polish.
More stammering and “uh-uh-ing” before she offers up the not-helpful-at-all information, “My coworker got her nails done and she said they’re gel.”
Mind you, she never mentioned whether or not her coworker got her nails done by me. I have no clue who her coworker is or what her nails look like. So telling me that her coworker got “gel nails” does nothing to clarify my question.
She eventually got off the phone, leaving me feeling like she was mad at me for not knowing what she wanted.
Last week was one conversation of this sort after another. To the extent that I — naturally — ranted about it to about everyone I talked to all week. I kept saying that I felt like I’d woken up in a “Twilight Zone” episode to discover that even though I could still understand everyone else, everyone else just heard gibberish when I tried to answer them.
What really got to me though was how many people told me I should have just “assumed” what these people were talking about. Yeah, I was pretty sure that client A wanted tips, not sculptured acrylic, and I’m pretty sure client B wanted a gel manicure. But that doesn’t mean it’s wise to just jump to those conclusions and make an assumption.
For starters, what if I’m wrong? Then I misquote a price and, if they book the appointment, I risk not allowing enough time for the service they actually wanted or I overbook and end up with down time that could have been filled by another client.
I’m also operating on the principle that offering education about available services is a good thing. Clients who have never heard of gel nails as an extension service should learn about them. They should be given the option to discover that this is a thing. Not to mention, arming them with this information prevents them from inadvertently getting the wrong service from a salon that didn’t bother to clarify.
The gel conversation did spur me to work up a quick demo on my website so hopefully my week in the Twilight Zone won’t have been a total waste of communication attempts.