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If Only They’d Returned My Phone Call!

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If Only They’d Returned My Phone Call!

I’m wondering if you’re also frustrated like me, at the amount of Small Business owners who don’t help themselves by doing the little things (and really simple things) right; and yet, will be the first to complain that business is slow and they don’t know why.

I find this is happening more and more with professional service businesses like the beauty industry which are driven pretty much solely by filling appointments.

This is what happened to me with my local massage therapist:

I have (or should I say had) a great massage therapist who had a small beauty salon less than five minutes from home, so I thought I had hit the jackpot; it was convenient, they were good at what they do and were very nice to boot. But over the last six months, my patience has waned due to her lack of follow up, i.e. customer service.

I have been going to this salon probably every two or three months for about four years, and it has changed management at least three times in that period. Which was OK because each time, there was a lovely new owner who was also a great massage therapist who charged reasonable prices, so I was happy.

But then with the latest owner (who was the previous staff member), I noticed some things had changed, and not for the better. No longer did I get a birthday voucher which was also a lovely reminder (and incentive) to go and spoil myself. I also no longer got a scalp and facial massage including in the treatment. And finally, and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back, the customer service standards really dropped off.

This occurred over about a month when my appointment had to be rescheduled twice because she was unwell (which I do understand):

  • I left a message on her answering machine saying to call me when she was better.
  • About a month went by and still no call; not even an ‘I’m unfortunately still unwell, but I hope to be back on deck by XXX. Thank you for your business, and I’m sorry for the inconvenience I may have caused.’
  • Two weeks later, I decided to give her another go and initially sent a text (which was the salon’s preferred method of communication), outlining when I was seeking an appointment. After two days and no response, I phoned and left a message on the answering machine. Still nothing.
  • After another week went by, I searched on the internet and phoned another local massage therapist and booked in with them.
  • Two weeks later, I got a call from the owner, following up on my phone message, to which I replied, “As you didn’t get back to me in a timely manner, I found someone else.”  She replied, “Oh, I’m sorry about that, I had a temp in covering for me, and she missed the message.”

Now as I’m a Business Systems Specialist, I advised her to look carefully at her systems, so that didn’t happen again because how many other customers tried to book in and went somewhere else, just like me?

But what surprised me was that there was no ‘Let me make up for that as I really value your business, come in and I’ll give you an XX% discount’. Wouldn’t you have done that?

I know I would have because mistakes do happen, and things do get missed or go array but we need to own that and be accountable to not only our customers but ourselves.

So how much business are you losing because your follow up and customer service standards are lacking?

As this was a local business, about three weeks ago, I gave her another chance but again, no follow up to my phone message, so I have now permanently moved to the new massage therapy business I had previously found.

Is it as convenient? Unfortunately, no, but I can book online so I can more easily manage my diary, and when they are running 15 minutes late, I get a text two hours before my appointment to see if it is OK to come 15 minutes later. Now I call that great customer service as I’m sure like me, you hate waiting around because someone else didn’t arrive on time and the domino effect that causes.

I’m certainly not saying we need to be available for our customers/clients 24/7 or have to provide an instantaneous response, quite the opposite in fact. But if your business is dependent on people booking in appointments, like in the beauty industry, then please make sure your systems do not let you down.

So what are your response timeframes to customers and what’s your backup plan if that appointment message gets missed?

Remember: Customers are your best and easiest sources of referral (something my local business owner forgot because I’ve gone from a raving fan to a ‘don’t go there’).

I would hate for you to be losing business because you don’t have the time or the right systems in place to simply return a customer’s phone call within 24 hours of contact.

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