Highlights, lowlights, babylights, splashlights. Painting. Gloss. Ombre, sombre, balayage. As my stylist likes to say, when it comes to hair color, “There are a lot of ways to get to France.” Ok, I get it: I come to my stylist with a look — or an outcome — in mind. My stylist, equipped with a myriad of techniques and skillsets, has to figure out the best way to achieve the look. Or even harder, to diplomatically redirect my hair hopes and dreams when my platinum aspirations are in direct contrast to well, having hair.
Much like in the healthcare advertising world, stylists must have a deep knowledge of biology, chemistry, math, art, and psychology. These are table stakes. Taken alone, they do not translate into better ROI, such as clientele satisfaction, an enviable reputation, or a more successful business.
So, what skillset must a stylist have to set herself apart in a highly competitive and fickle industry? According to a super informal survey of a few stylists I know, the unanimous answer was mad listening skills.
If you’ve sat captive in a salon chair for hours on end, you might think that’s stating the obvious. The stylist’s chair ranks up there with confessionals, therapy couches, and bar seats as a safe place to dish deep, dark secrets and tawdry indiscretions without repercussion.
But I’m talking about a different kind of listening. The kind stylists must do to truly understand their clients’ goals, ensure they understand the investment needed, manage their expectations, and keep them coming back. After listening to my stylist, I thought the healthcare advertising industry could benefit from her advice. So, without further ado, here are Amber’s top five listening tips for providing exceptional client service:
- Anyone can ask questions. Good listeners know that giving their full attention to the answers can reveal some pretty important, less-than-obvious details you don’t want to overlook.
- Terminology is an opportunity for clarification and education. We all use jargon differently; so always use reflective listening to clarify meanings and intentions to avoid misunderstandings.
- When you know you can’t achieve what’s being asked of you, if you’ve listened, you’re in a position to provide alternate solutions.
- When a customer is asking for something complex, you want to walk them through the process and possible outcomes. Listening allows you to personalize the journey by incorporating the concerns or preferences your customer has expressed along the way.
- Listening demonstrates that you care and are invested in the outcome. Listening builds trust. Trust leads to a healthy relationship. When you have a healthy relationship, you can work collaboratively and efficiently to gain alignment on how to proceed.
So, the next time you go to your favorite hair salon or barbershop, be sure to thank your stylist for making you a better listener and a better agency partner to your clients.