Pulling Out Your Hair? 6 Ways to Deal With Difficult Customers

As a hairstylist who sees clients daily, you’re bound to run into at least a handful of difficult customers, and the more customers you deal with, the more likely it is to happen. Here are six ways to deal with difficult customers and avoid awkward situations. Follow these tips and you may even earn a new loyal client!


1. Listen First
Before you respond to an unhappy customer, make sure you actually listen to their problem. Allow them time to explain why they are upset. Despite the fact that this may seem rather obvious, a lot of people instinctively react to an uncomfortable situation by attempting to explain a problem before the customer has finished talking. This can actually exacerbate the problem.

2. Explain, But Remain Polite
Sometimes, a client can become upset or cause a problem because they are dissatisfied with the services you have provided, or they are unhappy with the end results. When the customer has finished lodging their complaint with you, it’s your turn to explain why you made the decision you did. It’s important that you explain that you were trying to give them what they wanted. What you absolutely don’t want to do is to tell your client that you’re right and they’re wrong. Instead, simply explain the situation as best you can.

3. Consider Apologizing
Many stylists don’t want to apologize to customers because they worry that it’s an admission of guilt, or that they are admitting to doing something wrong. However, if you don’t apologize to an unhappy customer, you’re likely to lose them for good. Of course, if you did do something wrong, it really is in your best interest to admit it and apologize. If you didn’t do anything wrong, however, just let the customer know that you are sorry that they are unhappy.

4. Fix the Problem
After dealing with the customer politely, you may be given the chance to fix the problem. In this case, do everything you can to remedy the problem. Always ask the customer how they would like to proceed and if they are comfortable with your plan moving forward. Doing this will make them aware of the fact that you are trying to help them get what they want. Although doing this may take a little extra time out of your day, it is likely to help smooth over a bad situation and leave both you and your client in agreement.

5. Offer Something Free
You’re working to make money, and if you’re not the boss, you may not have total control over this one. However, there are some things you may be able to give a customer to satisfy them and help ease the problem. How about a free shampoo? Maybe the next cut will be on the house? Decide what you think might work and run it by your supervisor if you have to. Even if you have to do the next cut for free, it could be worth it for a long-time appointment. In many cases, first-time problematic customers that come to see that you really care end up becoming regulars.

6. Don’t Let It Affect Your Work
After listening to a customer, offering to fix the problem, and even giving them a free service, the customer may still not be satisfied. In these types of situations, the only thing you can really do is apologize again and move on. Some customers are simply going to cause problems no matter where they go, even if the problem is them. Don’t let it affect your next client.

The salon and styling business is a people business, and you’re going to see lots of customers on a regular basis. While most will probably love your work, there are some that just won’t feel like they got what they wanted. You can’t control what people think or how they behave, but you can control how you treat them, and that should be with respect and kindness.

- Gwen Lewis

Gwen Lewis is a freelance writer in Southern California. Having worked in the beauty industry, she knows how difficult it can be to always please the customer. She contributes healthy and beauty content to the Bellezza Spa blog.

[Images courtesy of Flickr/Michael Dorausch  and ShutterStock/Tyler Olson, respectively]

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