I have never subscribed to the notion that customer service means all customers are right and you need to assuage and stroke them to keep them coming back. I think it helps to first define who your customer is.
Your customer is someone you are doing business with that you want to do business with. And for that, you need to set the parameters for the “good-for-you” customer. Parameters could include:
- Displays respectful behavior. Any client that exhibits inappropriate, condescending or aggressive behavior becomes a former client. They don’t argue price or refuse payment.
- Keeps on the schedule that is set for the pet. Customers not wanting to stick to the schedule you suggest will often have a matted pet which will cause more stress on the pet and cost you time.
- Respects your time. Gives adequate notice to reschedule and doesn’t no-show.
- Follows directions. Reads and adheres to your terms of services and policies.
- Are not chronic complainers. A customer who is dissatisfied will tell nine to 15 people about their bad experience, and social media makes this easy to do. Dissatisfied customers that require continuing support are personally draining and cost you time and money.
- And anything else you think is important in a client.
Customer service is meant to keep the good-for-you customers coming back. Afterall, it is very expensive to cycle through customers. Studies show it can be up to seven times more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep a current customer. Simply increasing customer retention by five percent can increase your profits up to 125 percent. That’s what good customer service does; it helps you retain those good-for-you customers. And good customer service starts with setting expectations.
Respectful behavior is encouraged when you don’t accept poor behavior. Making clients aware of video and audio recording of client and pet interactions protects the groomer from false accusations. False accusations can spread like wildfire on social media if you can’t put out that fire with video proof. Letting abusive clients go makes room for your good-for-you customers. Clients that argue payment or outright refuse payment take up your time, and we all know time is money.
Educating clients on why the interval you set is in the best interest and health of the pet. Create customers who respect your knowledge and professionalism. Show off all your education. Hang those certificates on your walls. If you’re mobile or house-call, put them in a photo album and let your clients look through them. People don’t know what they don’t know, and it’s your job to educate them on their pets’ grooming needs as an educated professional.
Policies and Terms of Service
Inform your clients of your policies and terms of service. Take a couple of minutes with new clients to go over them. Your policies can be uploaded to websites and most grooming software can send forms to clients before the first appointment is even booked.
We all know that unforeseen emergencies happen. I always offer grace in such circumstances. However, when someone does not repeatedly show up, that directly impacts a businesses’ bottom line. Your signed terms of service should indicate the penalties along with a credit card on file. Most grooming software has that capability.
Under Promise and Over Deliver
Realize that some people can not be satisfied. Let them go. You’re probably spending too much time on them as it is. But ask yourself if you’re promising more than you can deliver. Do thorough check-ins with customers present. Look for matting, pre-existing conditions, behavioral concerns and ask about the health of the pet. Be clear with the owners and what you can and cannot do. Don’t ever end a conversation with “I’ll do my best.” That owner will simply think you’ll pull out your magic wand and will be disappointed with you when you bring them a naked pet.
Provide opportunities for customer feedback. Two questions I always asked were, what did you like about today’s groom? And, how can I improve? Allowing clients to have a voice makes them feel valued.
Getting rid of non-customers makes room for good-for-you customers who are customers you can focus on making happy. And that is customer service! ✂️