Customer Service

The Right Response

We can daydream all we want about what we would like to say, but finding the right response for hard-to-please clients is the better choice — and ultimately yields more satisfying results.

We can daydream all we want about what we would like to say, but finding the right response for hard-to-please clients is the better choice — and ultimately yields more satisfying results. Read below to learn our suggestions to placate common complainers.

<p>Faye K. Story</p>

Bio: “Time Shmime,” thinks Miss Faye K. Story. “There’s no reason to be on time since the appointment can’t start until I get there.” This client’s abuse of the appointment book is so notorious she barely realizes her offense at being late — until she feels the icy breeze from your side of the desk. The drop in temperature causes her to launch into a six minute dissertation, using her hands (which she has yet to place on the table) to mime the drama that kept her from arriving on time. This could be traffic, the kids, her job, a phone call … any number of culprits that amused you on her first offense, but are now annoying since you realize it’s a lifestyle not an exception.

Response: This client differs from ones who are late and legitimately apologize for it. Faye K. Story doesn’t really think it’s an offense to be late. She has no intention of curbing her behavior. She’s trying to curb your view of tardiness by making you laugh. Take your time setting boundaries, explaining yourself as you go. On the first offense, excuse her, but reiterate the need to be prompt in order to receive a complete service. On the second offense, say, “It sounds like you’ve had quite a day. It happens to the best of us. Unfortunately, since you are late and I have a client right after you, I won’t have time to polish.” If she is more than 10 minutes late on the third offense, leave the salon. Let a coworker tell the tardy client that you “thought she forgot her appointment.”

<p>Ima Chee Poh</p>

Bio: Ms. Chee Poh holds the theory that regardless of the increase in living expenses, supplies, or education, the cost of her nail appointment should remain static. She believes in her heart of hearts that you pocket every cent of the service cost, and secretly believes this is too much for a nail tech to make. When she hears the news that there is a price increase, she believes she can avoid paying the extra amount by complaining about it or threatening to remove her nails. Ima Chee Poh could choose a number of different angles for her complaint. She could challenge you: “Why are you raising your price?” She could try manipulation: “I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep coming. This is getting very expensive.” She might even be rude: “I can’t believe you’re raising your prices again. You just raised them last year.”

Response: It’s easy to take it personally when a client complains about a price increase. She is saying, in effect, “You aren’t worth it.” It’s important to separate a client’s annoyance at a price increase with her feelings about you. You don’t know what other factors make her overreact to a price increase — she may have a tight budget, she may have had a hard day, or she legitimately may be cheap. Whatever the reason, your prices are going up, and clients have a choice to pay your new price or find a new tech. Regardless of what angle she uses to voice her complaints don’t apologize for the price increase. You can respond with empathy, saying, “I understand your frustration. I felt that way when I ordered supplies last week and saw how much they have increased the price of product.” If product prices haven’t increased, substitute that statement with whatever was the catalyst for your price increase. For example: “I understand your frustration. I was paying bills and wondering why things were so tight; then I realized I haven’t had a raise in over three years. Can you imagine having no price-of-living increase for three years?”

<p>Mona Lott</p>

Bio: Ms. Mona Lott loves everybody’s nails but her own. She’ll pay lip service to the fact that you’re a wonderful nail technician and she thinks you’re great, but she’s dissatisfied with her nail shape, her polish color, her appointment time, and any number of other things that she can find to critique. Mona Lott doesn’t want round nails or square nails, yet the shape in between is not quite right either. Her sides are too narrow or the free edge fans out; her arch is too high or too flat. She wants a French manicure, but the white is too white or not white enough, and she can’t decide between a pink or eggshell base. She can’t make up her mind about what she prefers, and she has the ability to turn her uncertainty into a criticism of your work.

Response: The intent of Mona Lott is not malicious. In fact, at the beginning of your relationship with her, you probably thought she was sweet, and you really tried to meet her seemingly harmless demands. However, as time wore on and she couldn’t articulate the source of her discontent (though she is quick to let you know she is discontent), you realized this client is not going to be satisfied. It takes a certain amount of courage to confront Mona Lott, but you’ll be better off as soon as you do. “You know, I always feel like you’re unhappy with my work,” you could say. (She’ll vehemently deny this: “That’s not true; I tell everyone how wonderful I think you are.”) “Hmm. I always feel like you’re never quite satisfied when you leave here, and I hate that, because I try so hard to please my clients,” you could honestly state. Again, Mona Lott is not malicious. Confronted with the news that she is perceived as dissatisfied, hopefully she will begin to compliment instead of critique. 

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