Beauty Store Business magazine - December, 2019

The Retail Clinic: Better Customer Service, Flooring and Service for Beauty Professionals

3 Tips for Exceptional Customer Service

Customer service has evolved. It now entails more than just a friendly sales associate that helps customers find their way around a retail store. Today’s beauty consumers want to sample their options and talk to someone who knows more than they do. As a result, customer service must comprise a blend of intuition and expertise to keep the salesperson a few steps ahead of the customer. Here are a few expert tips to boost your store's customer service.

Get specific. When customers ask for help finding a product, ask them about their hair type or other beauty concerns as you walk them to the shelf. Take a moment to offer an option that may better suit their individual needs. Jessica Richards, owner
of Shen Beauty in Brooklyn, New York, says that a majority of customers lack understanding about products, unsure about what they’re using and why. Getting specific with customers will help them purchase the most effective products for their unique needs. “We try to be simple but helpful,” adds Richards. “It’s important to empower them.”

Educate them. Make sure customers leave the store with more than just product in hand. Equip them with information, tips and tricks that will upgrade their skin, hair, lifestyle and future buying decisions. “Making people feel comfortable with and knowledgeable about their own skin is a huge bonus,” explains Richards. It also boosts the value of your beauty destination within the consumer’s beauty network, as your store becomes more than a place to shop. Your staff becomes a valued resource.

Invite them to play. Point out the nearest mirrors, wipes, hand sanitizer and any other resources they may need as they test product. By doing so, you’re gently guiding them to give themselves permission to “play.” Let them know you’re available to offer both feedback and assistance. A Journal of Marketing study entitled “The Role of Within-Trip Dynamics in Unplanned Versus Planned Purchase Behavior” found that the more time a customer spends shopping, the more money they’re likely to spend. In part, the extended shopping time prompts them to recall additional product needs.

Keeping your staff apprised of solutions to your customers’ unique beauty concerns and intuitive to their in-store needs marks the difference between adequate and exceptional customer service.

Photo by William Zhao.

Flooring That Minimizes Risks

Flooring is one of the more subdued, but vital components of retail design. It influences store aesthetics and may have an impact on how long customers shop. It may also affect staff productivity and well-being by precipitating fatigue, physical injuries and other ailments of workers who stand on it all day. The journal Rehabilitation Nursing cites chronic venous insufficiency, musculoskeletal pain of the lower back and feet, and pregnancy-related concerns as major health risks associated with prolonged standing.

Certain flooring can exacerbate injury health risks or mitigate their outcomes. Nicole Migeon, the founder of New York City firm Nicole Migeon Architect, whose specialty includes spa and salon design, says that some of the least supportive floor types common to retail and salon spaces are concrete and stone. She notes that they can be paired with vinyl mats and carpeting, respectively, to reduce negative outcomes. But she advises the best flooring options for retail are carpet/carpet tiles and wood flooring, as they’re gentler on lower limbs, and as a plus, absorb sound. In addition, “Carpet tile is good if food or dirt stains [may be a factor]. Wood flooring provides a warmer environment. [And] cork flooring is a good option in retail as it is a renewable resource, easy to walk on and provides sound-dampening qualities,” she says.

Of course, retailers can further minimize negative health outcomes by recommending supportive shoes, including inserts and compression hosiery, as well as exercises.

An article published by Ergonomics explored the connection between low back pain and workers who spend their day sitting and standing. It concluded that “standing at work without freedom to sit down at will is associated with low back pain in both men and women.” In addition to forgiving and aestheically pleasing flooring, creative solutions for intermittent sitting within the retail environment should also be considered.

For immediate flooring solutions, remember carpet, wood and cork are best!

Photo by Jonathan Weiss.

Servicing the Professional

As an independent beauty retailer, it’s natural to position your merchandising, marketing and in-store design to capture the attention of your primary customer–the beauty consumer. You train your staff to answer their questions and provide space for them to test your wares. But how about your other customer–the beauty professional? Is your staff trained to answer the unique questions that benefit their clientele? Is your store designed to elevate their customer experience?

Jennifer Haddad, a retail consultant for independent boutiques, says maximizing your position as an independent beauty retailer means appealing to all possible clients, and not missing out on the big potential sales to professionals. “As an independent retailer, you can show more flexibility, more individual service and more knowledge and support than bigger retailers and wholesale suppliers. Use it to your advantage.” Haddad offers the following tips for capitalizing on your position as a retailer to professionals.

Offer them a dedicated section. Make your professional customers’ visits effortless by creating a space that provides for their professional interests and shopping needs. Make sure to include a consultation area within that space. “Show them that you take their business seriously and be ready with the right information for them,” says Haddad.

Display signage and other marketing elements that appeal directly to the professional. This lets them know your store is primed for their business: You’ve got the products they’re looking for, and you’ve got a staff that is trained to help them, the beauty professional. “Make it obvious that you service both types of customer and that you understand the differences in decision-making [between] the professional and the consumer,” says Haddad.

Establish online and social presences that are geared toward professionals. “Asking professionals to follow your consumer pages won’t convince them that you are seeing things from their perspective and understanding their needs. It also won’t necessarily help you find professional clients.” Haddad also suggests that your professional social and online platforms promote an option for them to set up a meeting with your advisors in-store.

Today’s customers–and this includes professionals–desire personalization. So meeting professional customers’ unique shopping and customer experience needs will drive their loyalty.