Manufacturers & Distributors

The Salon Client from Hell

Carlos Valenzuela | September 22, 2014 | 11:19 AM
Carlos Valenzuela

When first meeting anyone, we show our very best side, don’t we? And, if the meeting has anything to do with the two big wants: success or intimacy, it escalates to greater heights. Just last night, preparing for a dinner with key people in my life, I changed outfits three times.

As I settled on the third version, I thought, “Wait, isn’t it supposed to be all about values, and inner beauty?” Glinda, the good witch whispered, “Yes, but you don’t live in a perfect world, we are working on it, and just like the food you will be served, the best presentation catches the eye.”

I really dislike not being able to fool myself as I did when I was younger. The yellow brick road teaches us to work with reality, and avoid the hazardous path of fooling oneself and others. Reality can be such bad news.

But, all is not lost. You can keep the illusionary wizard at bay with a good dose of optimism and acceptance of others. Say to yourself,

~This is not what it appears, I can really see right through this (reality),

~I can work on a positive outcome for myself and this situation (optimism),

~I accept I will have to ride the good with the bad to get there (acceptance)

The option is to fool oneself by believing in the Wizard, or never engage any situation or person not perfect, either one of these will really lower your batting average.

To build a strong clientele, you can’t just go for pretty and nice; you must take on the challenging, boring, and the client from hell. When the client from hell shows up, often a client who played nice at first, show your best side---your best professional side. The client from hell works your feelings; so don’t use sentiment as a framework for your relationship. Instead, use your professional technical skills in consultation, solutions and pricing. Don’t allow behavior or attitude to influence you into accepting something you don’t agree with or don’t like. Here is a quickie checklist:

  1.  Often, the client from hell evolves into a manageable one. Just like children, reward good behavior and ignore repeated nagging.
  2. Reasons why a client is difficult are never your business. Don’t go there.
  3. Be polite, but clear on decisions. You don’t envision a medium, warm blonde—you ask this client to point to the swatch on the color chart he/she thinks is the right shade.
  4. Repeat questions, requests and comments. Allow client to hear what they just said. This is an amazing technique with multiple uses in customer service.
  5. Avoid offering a-la-carte services this client requests that you create
  6. Don’t display neediness—speak zero about your personal feelings,
  7. Do a lot of listening and working effectively. You may do best by having this visit come to an end sooner than later.
  8. If the situation is hopeless, speak with the client at the conclusion of services. Do not go into it while you are performing the service. Don’t bother with a "who is right or wrong" discussion—your message will probably be you decided not serve this client any longer.

Serving clients is always a game of give and take; you should not attempt to take on the world. You are only in charge of yourself, really. You are in charge of your attitude, so it is the service provider’s perspective that needs to be polished and right on.


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