Your clients are your best resource – take the time to find out what they want from your business, and how you can improve your client experience in a few easy steps.
When was the last time you did a client survey? And I don’t mean a one-person survey. Asking your best friend is not a survey. If you’ve never surveyed your clients, the time is ripe.
Why? Because your main focus in business is to solve people’s problems and if you don’t understand what the problem is, how can you possibly solve it? Client experience is the foundation of your business, so understanding what does and doesn’t work for your clients is key.
What should you ask? What do you really want to know? What would be helpful to your business development if you knew the answer? There’s no point gathering data on things you don’t plan to address. Here we’ll delve into the who-what-why-where-when of surveying your customers.
So, where should you start?
Ask the questions that you need the answers to, for example, about your trading hours. If you’re thinking about opening on a Monday, ask your clients if they’d be interested in coming in on a Monday. Are you thinking about a third late night? Ask your audience if that particular night would suit them.
Perhaps you have too many survey question options to choose from, you can’t decide and just keep churning over the alternatives. That’s analysis paralysis, a form of overwhelm that gets you stuck. Perhaps you want to do a survey but struggle with the “how” and the fear of annoying your clients.
How can you go about it?
If you’re planning to ask simple questions – Were you offered to rebook? Were you offered a tea or coffee? How was your front door greeting? – that is a simple click click click or a tick tick tick, then you can do so without offering anything in return.
If you have a more extensive survey in mind that you ask your a-grade clients to complete, consider offering them a thank you: perhaps a free blow wave or treatment. It tells them you value their contribution.
If you know your ideal client – the one who brings you joy, who’s loyal, who listens to your advice, who rebooks – profile them. Ask them the questions you want answered. Why is it they enjoy their visits so much? What is it that you’re doing right? Once you know this, you can target more of those people.
Who should you survey?
Surveying everyone in your database risks some of your nuisance clients getting the most say. Do you really care what they have to say? Years ago, my salon was open two late nights, Thursday and Friday. I always felt Friday was hit and miss. It was the end of the week, we were all tired and we had to turnaround and show up 8am the next morning. I figured a 5pm Friday finish would give us some downtime before fronting up to a busy Saturday. I surveyed with a single yes-or-no question: Would you be interested in coming into the salon on a Tuesday evening instead of a Friday evening?
I tallied them up and Tuesday was a definite goer. I changed my Friday night trade to Tuesday and we never looked back. Tuesday went from being my worst day to my best day because I went out of my way to drive clients to it. It was a huge financial gain with the bonus that it set the team up for a great rest of the week.
In another one-question survey, I asked clients if they were interested in having hair extensions. Apart from a few teenage girls, they weren’t. So I saved myself the effort and cost of offering that service.
Things to consider
Consider a post-visit survey, sent automatically to your clients. The value of these can vary. Many salon owners gather reviews this way and share them via their social media pages.
The tricky one: Should the client survey be anonymous? Although I’d put my name to anything I have to say and accept the consequences, not everyone feels the same way. People are far more likely to fling their dissatisfaction at you anonymously. Personally, I find that a bit cowardly. I always figure the owner would like and value my honest feedback.
A survey is for collecting unfiltered, unbiased honest opinions so you can take on the feedback. What you do with that feedback is your personal right. Just remember the reason you surveyed in the first place was to improve your business. If you have no intention of being open-minded and listening to your audience, don’t waste your time or your clients’ time gathering information.
If, on the other hand, you see the value in having feedback from the people who are the foundation of your business, and want to make it mutually beneficial, try this. Once a year, spoil perhaps 20 or 30 of your best clients with a gift such as a blow wave or a massage in return for their honest opinions. The A-grade clients are the ones you want to replicate. Find out what their problems are, what they like and don’t like about your salon and then work on improving. In time, you’ll find your D-grade and C-grade clients dropping off in favour of multiplying your A-grade client cohort.
And that, my friends, is a clever way to use surveying to take your salon from good to great.
See more about automated messaging, and how Kitomba Everyday Marketing can help you customise your communication with your clients.
Want to learn more about shaping the best possible client experience in your salon, spa, or clinic? Read our comprehensive Client Experience Guide, complete with expert tips and suggestions on leveling up your client experience.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published on 18 Nov 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.