Re-opening after COVID-19 will present some challenges in terms of keeping yourself and your clients safe. You’ll need more equipment, more cleaning and you’ll need to put new procedures in place to make it all happen. So, how does all this impact client experience? Honestly, it doesn’t have to change things drastically if you do all things with your client experience in mind.
Before you even start thinking about creating a great client experience after COVID, you should keep in mind that not ALL clients are excited to get back in to see you. Say what? I’m sure this isn’t a surprise, but MANY people are really scared of COVID. Many people are still really nervous about catching it and/or passing it on to someone they love. So, while you’ll definitely have clients banging down your door to get in, you’ll have others that are terrified to see you. With that in mind, let’s break down how you can create a great client experience when you re-open.
Use the process of rescheduling appointments to lay the groundwork. Yes, it may add some more time but take a minute to ask clients how they are doing. Ask what they are hoping to get done. Then explain what you’re doing to keep them safe and tell them what they can expect to see you in when they arrive. At this point, I think everyone knows you’ll be wearing a mask but if you’re taking things a step further and wearing other forms of PPE, let them know!
Even if you have signage at your door, as I discuss below, verbally tell them what your expectations are when they arrive for their appointment. People need to hear things several times before it sinks in. If everyone knows what they need to do, welcoming clients back will go smoothly.
If you’ve implemented virtual consultations while you’ve been closed, consider doing virtual consults to re-book appointments. Why? One, it will give you a chance to see your client face to face without a mask which adds a very personal touch. Two, it could decrease your consult time when they actually get to their appointment and help prevent you from running behind. I realize this isn’t possible for some providers, but if you can fit it in, I would consider it.
Prep Your Space
Rules vary from state to state but in general, most businesses are being asked to display some type of signage around the precautions they’ve put in place and what they are asking of clients. With that in mind, don’t just print out a sign from your office printer. Get something that is professionally printed and branded to your business to show clients you’re taking this seriously.
On top of what you’re REQUIRED to do, I also recommend including information on what you’re expecting clients to do. For example, do you want them to stay in their cars until their appointment time? Do they need to “check in” by calling when they arrive? If so, be sure to have signage with all that information clearly displayed at the front entrance.
Next, don’t make it all about COVID. As you get ready to return, think of ways you could perk up your space. Maybe it’s fresh flowers at the front desk. Mirror talkers at stations that say “we’ve missed you!” Encouraging signs in treatment rooms. Or anything that welcomes clients and says (without saying), “we’ve thought this through and we’re ready to keep you safe while pampering you!”
Lastly, be careful with what you put in place. While safety is everyone’s utmost concern right now, your space is part of your brand and how it looks during this re-opening will make an impression on clients. For example, I seen one salon that planned to hang clear plastic shower curtains between each station. Do you want to be known as a business that spent $5 on a clear plastic shower curtain to prevent the spread of a highly contagious disease? Probably not. Not only do they look low end, they would be difficult to sanitize between clients! Even if money is tight, invest in safety materials that are effective, send the right message and help create a great client experience after COVID.
As I mentioned above, people need to hear things several times before it sinks in. So, before you actually open your doors, I suggest that you continue communicating with your clients about how things are going to go. Send emails. Post to your socials. And, get your new policies up on your website so you can easily share a link to reference. The idea of all this communication is to make clients feel like you’re talking directly to them and keeping them in the loop on how you’re ensuring their safety.
Personalize Your Interaction
Now more than ever, it’s important to personalize your interaction with each client, even if you’re slammed! I’m not just talking about their service though. I’m talking about how you interact with them the entire time they are with you. When they come in, the first thing you need to do is gauge where they are at mentally and emotionally. Did they show up in full PPE looking like they just walked out of an ER? If so, they may be really nervous to be out and you may need to reassure them of the precautions you’ve taken to ensure their safety.
Once they are in your chair, don’t be afraid to ask clients what they are comfortable with. Yes, you need to follow the new guidelines, but if your salon is allowing blow drys, just check with the client to make sure they are ok with that and want one. Don’t assume the client wants their service to look as it always did as you could make someone uncomfortable!
Rushing Will Kill Your Client Experience After COVID
DON’T RUSH!! A lot of clients have waited two, maybe even three or more months to get in to you. They want to leave feeling better, not rushed and half done. While you may have a lot of clients wanting to get in, each client should leaving feeling like you gave them the time and attention they’ve been waiting for. If you want to deliver a great client experience after COVID, make sure each client leaves feeling like their visit was worth the wait.
Ask for Feedback
After you see your clients don’t be afraid to ask for their feedback. Find out if there was any part of their visit that made them uncomfortable. Or, anything they felt you could have done differently to make their visit better. Getting client feedback is a great way to ensure you’re providing the best client experience and help you tweak your procedures going forward.
What does client experience have to do with marketing?
You might be asking yourself, what does my client experience after COVID have to do with marketing? And the answer is, everything. Your client experience is part of your brand. Clients are loyal to you because of the service you provide BUT also because of the EXPERIENCE you provide. The difference between a chain hair salon and a professionally owned salon is the experience. Companies that have a welcoming, well designed space that provides an exceptional experience can charge more because clients are willing to pay for a great service combined with an experience.
Think of Disney. Yes, the rides are great, but the whole Disney experience is what brings people back year after year AND let’s them charge a premium for you to be there. Be the Disney of the beauty industry and your clients will keep coming back for more!
If you need help creating your client communications, contact me!