The world of hair can be a magical and fulfilling place to express creativity, display expertise, and spend time with people you enjoy. However, every stylist knows that not all clients are fun to be around, especially when your feet are aching at the end of a long day.
The issue of how to deal with difficult clients is a big one, so we are sharing three of the most frustrating perpetrators, along with tips for how to manage them–without pulling anyone’s hair out!
The Chair Hopper
“I’ve been to five stylists in this town, and none of them can do my hair right.” If these are the first words out of a new client’s mouth, you are surely suppressing some major eye rolls. In a situation like this, where clearly you have a picky client that is already expecting you to fail, you need to focus on the customer experience. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and if the beholder’s overall visit is a positive one, she is more likely to be pleased with her cut or color. It is easy to give up from the beginning, rush her through, and focus on the next client. Instead, spend a few extra minutes on that hair wash and give her a soothing scalp and neck massage. Compliment her clothing style and flatter her. Display confidence, not hesitation, while performing your art. If this client spends an hour being pampered and she enjoys your company, you can count on a better tip, a return visit, and a positive review.
The Consistently Late
This is the third appointment she has had with you, and the third time she has shown up 15 minutes late. Because there are several different reasons a client might be late, there are a few different techniques for how to deal with it. (1) If the client has shown a consistent pattern in her tardiness (always 5 minutes late, 10 minutes late, etc.) then plan for it in your scheduling. It is certainly annoying, but losing 10 minutes of productivity is easier than finding a new client. (2) If the client is sometimes late, sometimes on time, and it is difficult to predict, she most likely is attempting to be on time and will be open to a kind reminder that she is inconveniencing you. You want the client to be aware of her misdeed without embarrassing her so much that she won’t return. Try something like, “Good news! My next client is also running late, so we won’t have to rush your appointment today. We really lucked out.” (3) If your client does not warn you that she will be late, is always severely late, or simply does not show up to her appointments, drop her. You cannot risk the quality of service to your other clients in order to accommodate such an unreliable one. If you go this route, simply “always be booked” when she calls for an appointment, rather than dropping her outright. This will prevent a scathing review on Yelp.
The “My Cousin is a Stylist, so…”
This client believes that she knows as much as a stylist simply because she knows a stylist. She believes you are using the wrong color formula, should change your styling products, and so on. Rather than argue or disagree with this type of client, which is a completely natural reaction, act as if you are taking her suggestions into consideration and solicit more information. “Oh I have heard of those scissors but have not used them personally, can you tell me more about them?” Chances are, the client will not be able to elaborate on the reasons why you should change your techniques, tools, etc., and will stop correcting you. The key is to NOT sound sarcastic. It is imperative that you sound genuinely interested and upbeat. It will subtly indicate to the client that she does not know as much as she thinks she does, and she will believe she came to the realization all on her own.
The most important thing to remember when dealing with a difficult client is that you are providing a service, not a product. You will not be able to please everyone, but you can build a reputation for being kind, patient, and accommodating–which will serve you well not only with clients, but also with colleagues and management. Take a deep breath and (gently) grab those scissors. There’s a reason you’ve taken your career to the next level of expertise. You’ve got this.