Customer Service

The Good, The Bad, and The Nasty

What are clients saying about their salon visit after they leave? We took that question to several frequent nail salon clients to find out what’s on their minds and see what they really think about you, your salon, and your services.

You know what annoys you about your job, and more often than not, your clients have something to do with it. There’s no reason to feel sheepish about it though. It’s a given you’re not always going to feel the love with every client. Sure, the majority of them are wonderful, but you may have one or two who make you want to pull your hair out.

You know how much clients can irritate you at times, but have you ever stopped to think you may also annoy them just as much?

In our ongoing series focusing on the client’s perspective, we posed a question many of you may want to ask your clients: What irritates you about your nail tech or salon? While you may not exactly be dying to know, it’s important you do. Can you think of a better way to improve your customer service skills than by getting it straight from the source? Here’s what clients told us they don’t like about some nail techs and their salon experiences. (If you need a little ego boost read “Fishing For Compliments: Nail Clients Tell Us What They Love About You” in our August 2004 issue.)

Take It Slow — and Don’t Inconvenience Them

Do you like feeling rushed? Neither do your clients. Not only does rushing through a manicure or pedicure likely mean you’re sacrificing quality, clients tend to feel unappreciated. “It’s hard to find a person who is meticulous with their work,” says Theresa Pham of Torrance, Calif. “They normally are too rushed. They make my nails too thick and they accidentally cut into my skin.”

“I feel less than satisfied when I feel hurried and when I feel as though the nail tech is not paying attention to me,” agrees Shirley Nakamura of Seattle. “Lack of personality and courtesy really bugs me. I’m also not satisfied if I feel the quality of work is not up to par.”

“The worst is when you get a lazy massage,” says Anne Rokahr of New York. “All it takes is five to seven minutes of good, concentrated massage to make me feel like I got a luxurious, quality service.”

Another major pet peeve is waiting. Can you blame them? “I hate waiting,” says Leticia Haro of Anaheim, Calif. “I’ll make an appointment, but sometimes I still have to wait as long as 30 minutes because they’re working on someone else.”

And the waiting often leads back to the previous gripe: a bad rush job. “I feel unsatisfied when the nail tech rushes through my service because she’s overbooked or took someone on without an appointment,” says Bridgett Briese of Torrance, Calif.

How can you avoid that scenario? Well for starters, don’t take on more than you can handle. While it’s perfectly fine to allow walk-ins, it’s not OK to inconvenience your other clients as a result. Take a good look at your appointment book and see when you can accept walk-in clients. Don’t just say yes because the extra cash looks good.

What else is a turn off? Charging for every little thing. True, you’re always being urged to raise your prices and charge extra for add-ons, but some clients aren’t too thrilled with the idea. “Some salons nickel and dime you for every little service,” continues Pham. “Trimming your nails costs extra. Quick-dry polish is extra. Anything you say yes to costs extra, and they sometimes don’t tell you that until it’s time to pay.”

A word from the wise. If you decide to offer á la carte services, state so before the service begins so you don’t catch clients off guard when it’s time for them to pay. Or, ask them if they’d like an add-on, but be sure to point out that it’s extra.

Don’t Speak in Code

Most of the clients we surveyed stressed the importance of good communication. “It’s difficult to communicate what you want if nail techs can’t understand you,” says Janna Starcic of Long Beach, Calif. “I think it’s impolite when employees speak to each other in a different language in front of me. I’ve had a nail tech talk to other people across the room while she was supposedly focusing on my feet.”

Another client says a language barrier can be an issue when it comes to letting her nail tech know what she wants — and that can result in a less than stellar service. “I’ve had pain in my nails after getting a manicure because they overbuffed my nails and they were too thin and sensitive,” says Wendy Locken of Huntington Beach, Calif. “I even had to go back to a salon three times because my acrylic nails fell off.”

Just like they don’t want to feel rushed, clients don’t like feeling as if you’re talking about them or not even paying attention to them. Cut the small talk with fellow nail techs and focus on the person in front of you. And don’t ever make clients feel as if you’re talking about them.

Cleanliness and Quality Count

If you think clients don’t pay attention to cleanliness, you obviously haven’t been paying attention to the news. They do. “My biggest concern is cleanliness — of the instruments, the nail techs, and the salon,” says Erin Jones of Manhattan Beach, Calif. “I want to walk out of the salon with my hands feeling clean and beautiful. That’s impossible when the nail tech just pops her last bite of lunch in her mouth and then grabs your hands to start working on them. The same goes for towels. It’s gross when nail techs don’t grab a fresh one for the table and to wipe your hands.”

The cleanliness factor can’t be stressed enough. In fact, most of the clients who responded to our survey said sanitation, disinfection, and cleanliness are the most important things to them. “I hate going to salons that have fingernail and toenail clippings everywhere. And if it looks like they don’t clean their implements it just makes me not want to go back,” says Tory Quine of San Francisco.

If you want to keep clients satisfied, make sure you have a good selection of items to choose from. “What leaves me less than satisfied at a salon? If they don’t have a wide variety of nail polish colors to choose from,” says Wendy Drake of Torrance, Calif. “Sometimes I’ll bring in my own polish because I have colors I know look best on me. Also, brand name polish is a big deal to me. I want to have a recognized brand of polish on my nails so I know the polish is good quality.”

And make sure your services are top quality. “I hate it when the glue from my acrylics is still stuck to my fingertips between my skin and the nail,” says Heidi Greely of Manhattan Beach, Calif. “I have to constantly pick at it until I eventually break the whole thing, only to have it repaired — at my expense.”

The solution to that dilemma is easy. You need to know what you’re doing. If you’re new at applying acrylics, then practice, practice, practice. Don’t perform a service on a client you’re not sure of. Many salons train nail techs on their services, and even if they don’t, it’s up to you to educate yourself. You may give great customer service, but if you can’t give them a great set of nails, they likely won’t come back for another appointment.

Remember that being a good nail tech doesn’t just mean ushering a client into your salon, sitting her down at your nail station, and working on her nails. You have to remember that little things, such as greeting them when they first walk in, giving them your total attention, and having a clean salon, go a long way with clients.

Take a cue from these clients. Don’t rush your services, be friendly and give them your utmost attention (but don’t overdo it), keep your salon, yourself, and your implements clean, and as often as possible try not to inconvenience your guests.

And while it’s a given that you won’t always have a completely satisfied clientele, at least you know you’re doing your best to leave them feeling satisfied. Chances are they’ll notice and instead of unhappy customers there will be an endless stream of new clients walking through your door.

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