I have the pleasure of spending most of my days at our beauty school with some of the most amazing people in the world: cosmetology students. We call them Future Professionals, a term Paul Mitchell School’s pioneered more than a decade ago. During a recent professional development class I taught, we talked about the service cycle and some of the things that can make it successful. “A great cut,” responded one Future Professional. “An awesome blow-dry and style,” responded another. “What about great communication?” I asked. Met with quizzical looks, I continued my line of questions. “Do you guys talk to your guests about services we offer that they aren’t there for? What about the products you’re using on them – do you talk to you guest about them?” No one was talking. “How about rebooking and recommending products – you’re doing that, right?” The anxiety in the room was palpable. Since performing these tasks during a service is part of the service and education experience, I was a bit concerned that they weren’t engaging in these important steps and wanted to get to the bottom of their reluctance. “Why aren’t you guys doing these basic things, guys?” I looked around the room and finally someone spoke up. “I don’t like when people tell me no.”
Fear of rejection is a common fear and is the most potent and distressing of every day events, according to psychologists, and is experienced in friendships, romantic relationships, and in the workplace. It’s no wonder After all, most of us associate the word no with rejection, and who likes to be rejected? But statistically speaking, you have a 50/50 chance that the answer will be yes and in our industry, as in countless others, yes = income. I’ll give you some real world examples of places where a yes answer would add dollars to a business’s bottom line:
At the register at Old Navy: Cashier asks, “Would you like to save 15% on your purchase today by opening an Old Navy card?” If the person says no – no big deal. If the person says yes and gets approved – they have an open line of credit and are more likely to make purchases. #makingmoney
At the register at Barnes & Noble: Cashier asks, “Would you like to get valuable coupons by sharing your email address with us?” If the person says no – no big deal. If the person says yes, they receive coupons encourage them to come to the store and spend money. #making money
At McDonald’s: Cashier asks, “Would you like to make that a large for just $2.00 more?” If the person says no – they’ll live longer. Ha ha. If the person says yes, McDonald’s just made $2.00 more than they would have made had the cashier not asked. #makingsensenow
Okay, now I want you to imagine the financial ramifications to each of the companies I used in the example above if the add-on questions were never asked. Old Navy is owned by Gap, Inc., and according to their Annual Shareholder’s report their net sales for 2012 were $15.7 billion. McDonald’s? $6.5 billion. Barnes & Noble? $6.8 billion. A huge percentage of the sales that occur in those companies come from their front line people asking those important, revenue generating, questions. And, in addition, customers expect to be asked to “add-on” to whatever it is they’re buying; they won’t be surprised or offended if you ask. In fact, if you leave off that important add-on question, some might wonder why they weren’t asked!
This week set a goal to ask at least one customer per day an add-on question – one that will increase your ticket, your retail, or your rebooking. Then, share your results with me here. I’d love to hear your success stories!
In an industry where everyone on your team “touches” a client – the receptionist, the assistant, the stylist – it’s important that everyone on your team defines and delivers customer service the same way. What does that mean? Well, if your receptionist creates magic for your guest, creating the expectation of exceptional customer service, but your assistant chews gum while speaking, gossips about the client she just had, and then leaves your guest with a wet head at the shampoo bowl then, guess what? You know that their definitions of service vary greatly and that you have probably gotten a one star review on Yelp. “But I have an employee manual that outlines my expectation when it comes to customer service; I have systems in place,” you say. That’s a great start, I’d reply, but modeling what exceptional customer service looks like must be your next step.
Think about it this way – if a person’s only perspective of customer service is the employees they interact with at WaWa, or 5 Below, the local grocery store, Kohl’s, or Walmart, then their idea of customer service is basic: unenthusiastically greet the guest, take their order, take their money, and then look past them and say, “Next.” And, before you get your undies in a knot, I know that there are some amazing service providers at those places but they are the exception, not the norm. The service standard is B.A.S.I.C. Let’s pretend for a moment that another member of your team’s idea of customer service is with the people they deal with at Nordstrom, the Ritz-Carlton, Whole Foods, or Morimoto; places where customer service takes on a whole new meaning – borderline obsession. I’ll give you an example.
On a business trip to the Tyson’s Corner area of D.C., my husband and I stayed at the Ritz. When we arrived, we were exhausted and hungry. I picked up the menu for room service to order a quick sandwich and was disappointed when I discovered they had only white bread as a bread choice. I ordered a sandwich anyway and at the end of our stay when asked to complete a service survey, I wrote a note that said I was surprised that a hotel like the Ritz-Carlton would only offer white bread to its guests. A few weeks later I received several voicemails from a Ritz-Carlton employee apologizing for my disappointing experience at their hotel. A few days later I received a letter in the mail from the GM at the Tyson’s Corner hotel offering me a free overnight stay at any Ritz-Carlton hotel in the world to make up for not having a different choice of bread during my stay. Talk about INSANE customer service; their decision to go above and beyond shocked me, pleased me and, ultimately, ruined me because now I expect a free hotel stay anytime WaWa is out of my favorite kind of bread. Realistically, though, that customer service experience forced me to rethink what customer service really is.
BusinessDictionary.com defines customer service as: All interactions between a customer and a product provider at the time of sale, and thereafter. Customer service adds value to a product and builds enduring relationship. Huh. Really? So, then that should change every single client/employee interaction, right? Right! And, it should also make defining customer service pretty simple: every interaction should be adding value and building enduring relationships and if it’s not, then your employees aren’t providing customer service at all. “But what about modeling customer service, like you talked about earlier?” Good point. We’ve defined customer service, now how can exceptional customer service be modeled for your team? Simple. A road trip (or, two).
If you’re conducting regular trainings with your team, take the next training time and pack everyone into a car and drive them to Nordstrom. Take them into the makeup department and have them speak to the counter staff; purchase something – ask questions – observe. Go to the clothing or shoe departments and mosey around; engage a sales person and watch the customer service experience unfold before your eyes. Let your team see, hear, and experience a level of customer service they may not be familiar with. Afterward, go to Starbucks and grab some coffee and while you’re there, observe how the Starbucks team interacts with one another and with their guests. Then, sit down with your team and ask them what stood out the most for them at Nordstrom and at Starbucks. Ask them if the service experience they received was different. And then, ask them if they think that that level of service would be well received at the salon and if they think exceptional service could have an impact on the salon’s bottom line. When you get back to the salon, engage your team in a role playing exercise where they will have the opportunity to practice delivering exceptional customer service. It may feel awkward at first – change is sometimes uncomfortable – but when your salon develops a reputation for being the most customer-centric salon in your area, your paychecks will feel anything but awkward.