Client care is essential to becoming a successful hairdresser. And good client care depends on good communication.
It is vital that you learn to communicate well with your clients from the moment they enter the salon until they leave. If you establish a good rapport, they will feel comfortable with their choice of stylist and you will have clients who feel relaxed and confident. You must be able to:
put your client at ease – tell them what you plan to do before you start cutting and explain what you are doing as you work;
understand what the client wants – communication is about listening as well as talking; and
make sure that the client understands what you are recommending for them.
Putting clients at ease
How you talk to your clients is as important as what you say. They are not all the same and, with experience, you will learn to adapt your speech – tone of voice, volume and speed – to suit the client and the circumstances. Practice this as often as you can, imagining different circumstances. For example, how would you talk to an extremely nervous client or a client who is running late and becoming anxious?
Choose your words carefully. Soft sounds tend to be more reassuring than hard sounds. For example, ‘would you like to sit down?’ and ‘may I help you?’ sound more friendly than ‘take a seat’ or ‘can I help you?’ (which could also seem to question your own ability).
It is important that you find out exactly what your client wants. Try to use questions that cannot be answered with a straight ‘yes’ or ‘no’. These are known as open questions and usually include words such as which, who, why, how, what and where. Unlike closed questions, they require the client to give you a response. For example, think about the different sort of answers you might get if you asked the following:
Open question – Which appointment time would you prefer?
Closed question – Is your appointment for a colour?
Doing it every time
There will be times when communicating with your clients will be hard work. You may be tired or feeling unwell. You may have difficulty understanding a client because they have a strong accent or speech impediment. Or your client may simply be disagreeable. Whatever the circumstances, as a professional, you must work to establish good communication with your client.
The consultation is a fact-finding mission and is the first part of the service you give your clients. An in-depth consultation will allow you find out what your clients’ ideas and needs are. This will help you to make the right recommendations and give your clients more confidence in you.
During a consultation, you should always:
find out what the client wants before you shampoo their hair and keep checking back with them as you work;
ask the right questions and, if necessary, use visual aids such as magazines. If you are doing a colour consultation, use the colour chart;
communicate clearly with your client and check to make sure you both understand each other;
if you are in any doubt about what your client wants, refer them to a senior member of staff who can give further advice; and
check to make sure you are working safely and looking after the client’s well-being.
A professional consultation is conducted on a one-to-one basis between the client and the stylist. It can take place either in the reception area or at a styling station. The success of your consultation will depend on your ability to:
ask the right questions (using open questions as much as possible);
listen carefully to your client’s answers;
interpret what they are saying;
confirm what has been said, checking that you both understand; and
make suggestions and offer appropriate choices.
As a professional hairdresser, you are in a position of trust. You will learn a great deal of personal information about your clients. It is crucial that they can rely on your discretion. If your clients feel they cannot trust you, they will not come back and, worse, they may take action against the salon. In any event, the reputation of the salon will be badly damaged.
Record cards must be treated in strict confidence. They belong to the salon and are an important source of information. They are also private and you should not look at – and certainly never alter – record cards without permission.
You should also treat personal information about your colleagues in confidence. When you are working together in a busy, public place such as a salon, you need to know that you can trust each other. Also, your clients will not be impressed if they hear salon staff gossiping about each other.
Client care from start to finish
Your client embarks on a journey through the salon from the moment they walk through the door.
An increasingly important part of the hairdresser’s role is giving after-care advice to clients and recommending products clients can use to care for their style between visits to the salon.
You may feel uncomfortable with this part of your work to start with, particularly if you see it as ‘selling’ unwanted products to your client. But bear in mind that you wouldn’t consider styling hair without these products so why should your client have to.
The response you get from your client will obviously depend on the way you approach the subject and make your recommendations. You should spell out the benefits to the client of using the product at home. Explain to them:
which product you have used on their haircut;
why you have used it; and
when and how the client should use it.
Remember to ask your client, when they next come into the salon, if they were happy with the product and able to maintain the style of their haircut.
A client’s personality will help you decide whether to cut their hair short or leave it long. Use your observation skills to decide what type of client you have:
An outgoing person may wear striking fashions. Their hair may be colourful and form part of an overall look. An introverted person may want to hide behind their hair, keeping it and their style of dress conservative.
They may be trying not to stand out from the crowd. These are only examples. As you gain experience, you will find it easier to identify your clients.
Your Client's Age
Knowing what sort of age group your client fits into can help you make decisions about cut and colour, such as:
The rules are very straightforward:
the younger your client, the more fashionable they will want their hair to be; and ??
the older your client, the more groomed and styled they will want it.
You should always try to give your clients a younger, fresher style than they might expect. It will make them look and feel younger