Distributed by Australian Bodycare


Beauty and waxing salons play a crucial role in building the confidence and self-esteem of clients but, every now and then, things will inevitably go wrong. Clients can be more forgiving than you realise, so how do you manage complaints, and how can you resolve them quickly and efficiently to restore client satisfaction and loyalty?

The first thing to do is not to escalate the complaint by making the complaints procedure something else to feel unhappy about. It's surprising how often people complain and their resolve is double-tested because of the frustration caused by the company's failure to resolve it. This can often do more damage than the original issue itself, so avoid it at all costs.

The simple trick is to have a complaints process that you implement every time, and one that your whole team are aware of. Before we get into this, remember that there are people who will complain just to get a freebie, or a discount BUT these are in the minority. The vast majority of people are genuine when they have a grievance, so it's best to let a small percentage have their way rather than punish the majority. Over time you'll know the clients to look out for and you can look at different ways to manage 'serial complainants' when you know you've done nothing wrong at all. That's another blog for another day!  

The key thing is that when complaints are resolved quickly, efficiently and without conflict, client's will have an enhanced view of you, and it can have the effect of strengthening loyalty and the bond of trust you share with them. For most people, complaining doesn't come easy. They're most likely to leave and then share their negative experience rather than tell you, so try to read their emotions and if you suspect they're disappointed, ask them if they enjoyed their treatment and if they're satisfied. This may get them talking. It's so much better to get it out in the open, discuss and resolve it rather than have them leave unhappy and telling others. If they do tell others, what you actually want is for them to say is that although they had a disappointing treatment, your salon was amazing and dealt with it superbly, so you'll definitely visit again. It's not the issue that matters so much as the way you handle it, and resolve it.

Here's a simple checklist to help you resolve disputes and get your clients back onside.

1. Listen carefully

It sounds obvious but if a client complains, or you suspect something's wrong and ask them, listen carefully to what they are saying. Ask if they have any concerns, empathise with their experience. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree, it's the way they feel about their experience that matters. 

2. Apologise and consider your response

Next, apologise. Saying sorry matters to unhappy clients and even if you think their complaint is exaggerated, simply say you're sorry that they didn't enjoy their treatment. In the case of a simple issue, you can simply ask, "Is there anything we can do to resolve this for you today?', or "What could we do to make up for your experience today and put it right for you?" Most clients will be reasonable, so listen to what they think would be proportionate compensation. Judge it on an individual basis. So if, for example, a client felt a waxing treatment was more painful than expected, but this is normal in respect of their treatment, explain that e.g. "I'm so sorry about that but this is to be expected with this kind of treatment..." going on to explain why (although this should be explained at the consultation prior to the treatment taking place). In this case, you may offer a complementary after care product, a small concession or a voucher off their next visit.

If they are unhappy for other reasons and they're really not happy, take a full account of the complaint, say you'll investigate it and be in touch as soon as you can to discuss it with them again. Ideally it would be dealt with before they leave, so see if they have time to stay and discuss it with your manager, unless it's something that requires more investigation. It might be an attitude issue with a staff member, a late appointment or an unsatisfactory result. If it's the latter, can you put it right now, or invite then for a follow up treatment free of charge to resolve it?

Importantly, if you do discuss compensation on the spot ask, "If we can do this for you, would you be happy about that?" In other words, validate your response and make sure this fully resolves the issue.

Throughout the process, maintain a professional demeanour and avoid becoming defensive or confrontational, even if the complaint is unfounded.

3. Investigate more complex complaints

If the complaint relates to a failure in procedure, service processes or the conduct of one of your team, or perhaps it could be about noise, equipment or products, take a full account and take a reasonable amount of time to investigate. This may involve speaking with your team, reviewing procedures or looking at the products use, and it may need you to have a follow up conversation with your client. In this case make sure that you manage your client's expectations and tell them when you'll be in touch. This way they'll know you're dealing with it and you won't leave them waiting.  

4. Communicate effectively and offer proportionate solutions

Keep the customer informed about the progress of the investigation, as openness and transparency builds trust and demonstrates your commitment to find a resolution. When your investigation is complete, provide the customer with practical solutions to address their concerns. This might include a complementary service, a discounted future visit, or a refund if appropriate.

5. Learn from your mistakes - they'll make you stronger

Crucially, when you've resolved the issue in hand, take steps to prevent similar issues in the future. This could involve additional staff training, refining procedures or improving communication. It's best to have a constructive approach, as blaming someone may make matters worse, so take a positive approach to any internal matters that arise from the complaint. Treat complaints as opportunities for growth by using them to refine your services and enhance the overall client experience.

6. Follow up with your client

When the complaint has been dealt with, follow up with your client to ensure they are satisfied with the outcome. This shows that their feedback is valued and that you are genuinely committed to their well-being.

One effective way to see how you're doing, minimise complaints and refine your service culture is to continually monitor client satisfaction. This can be simply done with a post-treatment Q&A or form, or you can host a form online and ask clients to complete it in their own time. Not only can they be honest with an option to remain anonymous, you can see patterns emerging which may highlight areas of your business that need attention and refinement. 

We hope you've found this blog useful and please contact us if you have any comments or suggestions for future blogs.