A UK survey of 2,173 British women aged 18-30 found that one in four were more likely to cheat on a romantic partner than their hairstylist. Here are six secrets to customer loyalty you can learn from the best salons and hairdressers.
“Life is full of trials and tribulations… but eventually you find a stylist you like.”
So it seems, as 26 percent of the women who participated in a survey commissioned by babtac.com (British Association of Beauty Therapists and Cosmetology), indicated they were more likely to stray romantically than stray from their favorite hair stylist or colorist.
89 percent of the women surveyed said they would remain loyal to a good hairdresser. It is fascinating, really. Given that even the smallest towns usually have at least one (if not several) hair salons and bigger cities have thousands of salons, salon suites and hairdressers women can choose from, why is it that women see hairdressers and colorists services not as readily-available commodities, but as uniquely valuable and practically irreplaceable?
It is a particularly interesting question in light of the fact that customer loyalty (at least for purposes of the survey) is tied to individual beauty professionals, not just the salons they work in. How are these stylists and colorists (who could be working as booth renters or salon or salon suite owners or employees) establishing such strong brand perceptions with their client base?
We came up with a list of six brand perceptions that hairdressers and colorists who have a loyal client base have established, and which can be replicated by other businesses, consultants and service professionals.
6 Brand Perceptions that Inspire Customer Loyalty
Cheating – leaving for another provider – is a risky proposition.
Of the women surveyed, 49 percent agreed that a good hairdresser was harder to find than a good (romantic) partner. This is the marketing principle of scarcity. While there might be many hairdressers, the perception is there are not many good ones. Therefore, once you have found a good hairdresser, it’s risky to leave.
When it comes to customer loyalty, relationships are a two-way street.
82 percent of respondents said they felt it was very important to have a good relationship with their stylist. As opposed to a feeling of customer entitlement, where the onus of the relationship rests mostly (or completely) on the business, these women feel invested in the relationships themselves.
The business truly understands – and meets – the customer’s need.
Emma Roberts, Marketing Executive of BABTAC, put it this way, “Discovering a good relationship with a hairdresser who understands their clients’ needs is like gold dust, so it’s understandable that we don’t want to upset the balance we have with our stylist.” Getting to this point of fully understanding and meeting the client’s need, visit after visit, doesn’t happen by accident.
Stylists provide consultative services to their clients and work diligently to get from client-expressed wishes to the results they want, even when that means interpreting vague concepts about the appearance they want to achieve or the need to overcome challenges to get there (damaged hair, prior services, etc.)
The business is in it for the long haul.
In terms of getting a client all the way to the look-style-length-color they wanted, hair styling and coloring is rarely a one-and-done proposition. It might take months and several visits to get the client the results they are looking for.
Hairdressers build a file on each and every client, including a record of past services, client preferences, client desires, and a plan for how to get the client from where they are now to where they want to be. They send a clear message to their clients that they are in it for the long haul and committed to helping the client achieve their goals. Customer loyalty is a reflection of the business investment in making it a long term proposition.
They can put absolute trust in the business.
An iconic Clairol hair color marketing campaign ran with the tagline, “Does she…or doesn’t she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure.” A girl’s natural hair color is not the only secret that hairdressers are privy to; the salon is traditionally an environment where a woman can share her troubles and triumphs, and even her secrets, without fear of betrayal.
Over time, a stylist runs the gamut with a client, delivering services that make the client feel their best and look their best through – and despite – the ups and downs life is throwing at them. It’s a place where clients can confess their sins (like the time they cut their own bangs or how they save money by cutting their children’s hair at home) without fear of judgment or reprisal. They get empathy and understanding, without lectures or instructions about what they are doing wrong.
Their services cannot be replicated.
Returning to the question of why women do not perceive hair services as commodities, hairdressers with loyal clients have established the brand perception that their services cannot be replicated. Their clients believe that they have innate talent or skills that cannot be taught, and so cannot be replicated elsewhere. This may be the toughest brand perception for a business to establish; delivering a client experience and results that customers cannot get anywhere else to drive customer loyalty.
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