Today we’re getting down and dirty with clientele surveys. I recently posted on Instagram about surveying my students, and had sent out surveys to my Thrivers Society alumni. I asked for feedback on what they liked about my program, what challenges they had, areas of improvement, areas they’d like to see more education in, things that bothered them, things that they loved, if they’d recommend other students to me. I asked everything, and I only sent this to my alumni, so these are people who have been in Thrivers Society for anywhere from 13 months to 4 years, so they know me, they know my coaching and they know my programs. These are all people who are very well established with me and wanted to get their feedback. My confession on my Instagram post was that it was terrifying. I don’t send out surveys because I’m a confident badass, and that I know I’m going to get amazing feedback from them. I send out surveys because I need to know the fatal flaws, and I want to know where I’m going wrong. I have no trouble reading the surveys that say I’m amazing, I love this and everything’s great, those are awesome. I love them, but I don’t learn from those. I learn and grow from the surveys where somebody says you know what this didn’t work for me and here’s why. This is where I can improve myself and where I can improve my program, along with improve my offerings and really show up as the best version of myself for my clients. If I want to be the best possible business coach for hairstylists, I have to be constantly in self-improvement mode. So, for you guys as hairstylists it’s the same thing.
What if you as a hairstylist sent out a survey to your clients to how things are going, and you get half a dozen responses that say you know I love seeing you, but you know that stylist who works next to you drives me crazy and she takes away from my experience. Within six months if you don’t do something to change that, those clients will walk. There are stylists who have lost clientele because of the environment they work in, because there’s something wrong with the salon and their clients are uncomfortable. I’ve had stylists leave their salon and they’ll have clients confess that they couldn’t stand being at the previous salon and they were on the verge of leaving until they decided to make a move. These are things your clients won’t necessarily tell you unless you survey them. Now this is an extreme example of what you could find out. Some clients might tell you a specific magazine they would like to find in the salon, and you’re going to look like a rock star if you make it happen by their next appointment. Big picture, we need to know all these little things so we can improve ourselves.
I happen to be a survey addict. I send out surveys to my students and those who are on my email list probably six times a year. When I was in the salon director role, I surveyed clients for all kinds of crazy things. We had different segments, different surveys at different times of the year, and so on. So today I want to focus on the two most effective types of surveys we used. This would be the clientele survey and the lost client survey. The clientele survey would be getting feedback from your current or existing clients, people who are still coming in to see you, and what I would refer to as your base. These are people who are part of your business and will be for the foreseeable future. Then we talk about lost clients and this is where the magic happens, and a lot of times people are afraid to hear from their lost and clients because they don’t want to know what the things were that went wrong. This is where you learn. If we can figure out why those people left and do productive things to make sure that never happens again, we can retain our clientele and grow so much faster.
Now in this blog I am going to tell you how to set up clientele surveys correctly from start to finish, because surveys can be done right and oh so wrong. I know some of you reading this may think well Britt’s way doesn’t work for me, but I am going to keep it honest with you and tell you that if you don’t do it the way I am sharing you’re not going to get good results. I have surveyed clientele in the salon I worked at, I have surveyed other stylists’ clientele, I’ve surveyed my own students, and this is the way it works. I want you to stay in line with the guidelines that I give you if you want to get the best results possible.
Let’s start with the survey setup. I want you to do your survey fully online and you’ll need your client’s email addresses to pull it off. We’re not going to do clipboards with paper in the salon it’s not 1994, it’s time to step away from that. We’re not going to promote this on Instagram and hope somebody sees it and fills it out. We’re not going to hand it to our clients on an iPad. You won’t get good results doing it any of these ways.
Earlier this year my husband and I were buying a new car for our family and we were at the dealership negotiating the deal. We were in the middle of negotiating this deal and the salesperson asked if I could take a survey before we left and I thought sure no problem. My husband pulls at my sleeve and says you better be nice so you don’t screw up this deal, and that’s exactly what our clients think when you hand them a survey in the salon. They think well I better be nice, she’s in the back mixing my color, or they are going to think if I say something negative and she reads my survey before cutting my hair, how awkward. It makes the clients head go into all these weird places that it wouldn’t go if they were taking the survey at home.
So, if my dentist sends me a survey from home and I do have some areas I think they can improve on I will be totally honest. I’m still going to go back to them and it’s not going to be awkward for me to go back after giving them some constructive feedback. But if I’m they’re about to get a filling and they they’re like before we start can you fill out a survey, I’m going to be ultra-nice. Can you see how the reframe is really different? So, it does have to be done through email and it does have to be done electronic. Now if you are saying I don’t have my client’s emails can’t I just do it on social media the answer is no, and that is because hardly anybody is going to fill it out. If you saw somebody post on Instagram asking you to fill out a survey would you do it? Chances are no, nobody’s going to do that. The other thing is social media reach is 1 to 3 percent. What that means is for most of you if you have 500 followers and you make a Facebook post 5 of those people are actually going to see it, if you are on Instagram and have 1,000 followers, you’re lucky if 10,20, maybe 30 people will see that post. That’s the way the algorithm works. This means that 95% of your followers or 95% of your clientele would never see the opportunity to take a survey. It’s not going to work.
Now if you’re not doing email marketing in the salon, or you’re not sure how this would work, in Thrivers Society we dive deep into how to do e-mail marketing, how to set it up, how to use proper phrasing, and how to ask your clients for emails so you don’t sound like a junkie scamming marketer, how to write effective newsletters, when you should email market and how you should phrase all those sorts of things. Now since we are keeping it real, some of you have added me to your email marketing lists, which is nice to see what you guys are doing with email marketing, but every once in a while, I’ll get an email that takes every ounce of me not to respond and say please stop sending your clients emails like these, you’re doing your business more harm than good. It’s not just about doing email marketing to check it off your list, it’s about doing it effectively. So hopefully you’ve adopted email marketing and you’re doing it effectively and this client survey can be a piece of that.
Now to build your online client survey you can use my favorite survey tool called Survey Monkey, if you put this in a Google search it’ll come right up. It’s not the only survey tool out there, but it is my favorite for a few reasons. First of all, there is a pricing option that makes this service completely free. The site gives you options for charts and analyzing your results which allows you to break up the feedback you receive in different ways. You can do a fully basic survey with up to 10 questions and no branding for free meaning it’s going to still show powered by Survey Monkey on there, you can’t really change the colors much, you can’t add a logo, but it still looks super professional and I don’t think there is anything wrong with using the free version. If you’re a larger scale salon and you do want to step it up, for $39 you can include your logo and you can have custom colors along with branding, and you have the ability to add up to 100 questions. When I do surveys, I do happen to use the paid version, only because I am a perfectionist and it makes sense for me to have a super branded survey, but again there is nothing wrong with the basic survey. Once you put yours together, you’ll see its super clean, really slick, and would feel super professional to your clients. Another aspect I love about Survey Monkey is that you can do several different types of questions, so you can do open ended, multiple choice, sliding scale, or checkboxes. I really like to mix up the formatting using all of the different options.
What I am going to do now is I’m going to do a rundown of the questions that I like to include in the existing client survey.
So, I would use Survey Money if we were doing a lost client survey or existing client survey, but let’s start with the questions that we would ask our existing clients. This is the survey you are going to send to everybody who currently sees you.
Question Number One: Let’s start with their name.
I like to start with asking them for their name, that being said the name part should be optional. If you do an anonymous survey you will get a lot more honest feedback. I’ve done it both ways, and the bummer about doing it anonymously is if someone says something and you think oh my gosh this is a misunderstanding and I really wish I could reach out and make them feel better about this, but you can’t because you don’t know who it is. You are going to have to decide which option may be better for you and whether or not you would like to go the brutally honest route and go anonymous, or do you want to know what everybody is saying and feeling so you can reach out, but maybe not get quite so much honesty. The other option would be to have the name box be optional. The other thing that Survey Monkey offers is tick boxes so that you can choose to make some of the questions mandatory and some of the questions optional, this way would allow people to decide if they wanted to include their name or not. There are a lot of customization options available, but for me I like to have a name option and email address in there, because I want to be able to reach out to somebody pretty quickly after they respond. These would be the fill in the blank style responses.
Question Number Two: How happy are you with your hair right now?
My favorite is to start with a sliding scale response. So, on a scale of 1 to 10 how happy are you with your hair right now? My guess is a lot of your clients will say 10, but there will also be a lot that rate their hair is a 6 or 7. Ratings of 6 or 7 is where the magic really happens, because if somebody said 6 or 7 and then they come back into the salon and you say you know I saw that you completed your survey, thank you for that. I loved all your feedback, but did notice you said your hair currently feels like a 6 or a 7, how can we make it so that your hair feels like a 10, let’s talk about that. How badass would you look? So, it really does open the door for improved guest experience and then a follow up question to that sliding scale would be if you selected anything less than 10, what would get you to a 10 and have that be a fill in the blank style question.
Question Number Three: How did you initially find me and my business?
Then I like to ask how did you initially find me and my business, you can do this as a multiple choice or fill in the blank. I personally set it up as a multiple choice and I put referral, Instagram, Facebook, Yelp or other, with other you would give them the option to fill in the blank. It is really good to get a sense of where your clients are coming from because when you are done Survey Monkey will provide you with a pie chart and you can see the breakdown in percentages. With this you will get a really good overview of how your clients are coming to your business and it’ll give you a sense of where to focus and what’s not working for you. Overall it is a really great snapshot of your marketing efforts.
Question Number Four: Why do you choose to see me as your stylist?
Next, I like to ask the following question, why do you choose to see me as your stylist? So, a lot of people when they do surveys like to ask what I call leading questions. A leading question would be saying what are your favorite parts about your visit with me. Then you will get answers like the shampoo, the massage, the conversation, which are all the very expected predictable answers because it was a leading question. When I say something like; why do you choose to see me as your stylist, very few people say I choose you because of the massage. This will actually lead to a much deeper response because it will force the client to really think about what makes them come to see you every six to eight weeks. Even though it seems like a small shift in verbiage it’s actually huge, and the way it makes the client think about the question is major.
Question Number Five: Is my booking system effective?
I also like to ask if they find my booking system easy and effective. For everybody their booking system is going to be a little bit different. For some of you it’s called the reception team, for others it may be call or text me, or for hopefully the majority of you it’s use my online booking system. Getting to the bottom of if your clients use your booking system and if it works well for them is really important. If you find out that 30% of your clients are frustrated with your booking system that’s a problem you might need to come up with a solution for. You can frame this question in a way that makes sense for you. If you offer online booking you might say, do you find my online booking system to be easy and effective, now that I no longer take appointments by phone or text. When we frame it like that it’s a really nice dual question that affirms don’t bother texting or calling me anymore because I only use my online booking system now. Now this is for those of you who have already fully made the transition to online booking. You can phrase the question to say do you find my online booking system to be easy, flawless and efficient, the next option could be easy enough but sometimes challenging, and the last option could be it’s nearly impossible for me, and I feel like I need a tutorial. You always need to have the option for the person who may hate your booking system, but it should end with I need more training on it, or I need you to teach me. It doesn’t just end with I think it’s stupid, that can’t be the response. They need to be committing to you and themselves that way when they come into their next appointment you will be able to walk them through it in person.
Question Number Six: Do you purchase retail from me?
The next question I like to ask is, do you purchase retail from me? This would be formatted in the yes or no option. This allows you to see the percentage that Survey Monkey will put into a pie chart for you. You will be able to see that holy cow 80% or more of my clients don’t purchase retail from me. For some of you, you may see that 50% of your clients purchase retail from you and that’s a win. Having that data of who purchases from you and who doesn’t is really important, and it also serves as a reminder to your clients that you do sell retail in your salon. Then we follow that up with the open-ended question of if no, where do your purchase your retail from and why do you purchase it from there? These are all the things we can use to grow our business.
Question Number Seven: Let’s talk time management.
Next, I like to ask a question regarding time management, and I will do this in the form of rate my time management skills. Option one would be I’m always seen on time, option two would be I am usually seen within 5 minutes of my scheduled time, option three would be I feel like I’m often waiting more than 5 minutes even when I arrive on time. I know for a lot of you this part could be painful because you know you run late. I know when I start coaching to time stylists get defensive and they say things like well I am only human, and sometimes I run late, and yes, we all sometimes run late, but if your client feels like they are always late they will leave you. They aren’t going to stick around for the stylist who can’t run on time consistently. At some point you need to improve yourself. If 90% of your clients say they feel like they’re waiting more than five minutes that should be a real aha moment for you, and for those of you whose clients say I feel like I’m always on time you should give yourself a pat on the back because you’re a stylist who’s going to grow quickly and effectively. Alternatively, or in addition to that question I also like to ask the clients to rate the efficiency of their appointment with me, and here’s a few multiple-choice options you could give. I really enjoy our visits and feel like I’m in and out in a timeframe that I’m comfortable with. The second option would be I feel like I could probably be finished a bit faster and still get great results from you, or number three; I just love our time together and I wish that it were longer. I like asking those three because it’s going to give you a sense of your time management and you might want to even add in an option four which would be something along the lines of; honestly the appointments are getting a bit too long for me and it’s getting difficult to fit them into my schedule.
I was coaching an incredible stylist last year who was uber talented and super successful, but felt like she couldn’t get her footing when it came to building her base. I asked her to do a clientele survey and to be ready for it, because it was either going to be that she ran late and long or that her clients didn’t feel like she was making them feel special. She didn’t think it was going to be either. Overwhelmingly her clients came back with her having time management issues, she either ran late, ran long, they felt like she was taking her time, and they wished the visits would wrap up quicker. In her mind the stylist felt like she was giving her guests this amazing experience, but the clients were thinking that the needed the visit to end because they had to go pick up their kids. This was literally causing her to lose clients, and about 75% of the responses said they would love to keep working with her, but that she took too long. Finding this out was huge for her and allowed her to shift the way she ran her appointments and conversed with her guests and really helped her to retain her business.
Question Number Eight: Let’s get some thoughts on my assistant.
Now for those of you who are working with assistants, it is really important that you know how your clients feel about working with them. If you have somebody who supports you it is a good idea to include some open-ended questions like, how are your experiences working with Jessica and include this as a fill in the blank style question. Then follow that up with would you include seeing her for cut or color services at a reduced rate? The nice thing about that is for those of you who are cultivating an environment where your assistants can build a clientele from beneath you, they’re going to be able to grow from that and that is huge, and for those of you who love your assistant but maybe your clients don’t like her so much this could be a real aha moment for you.
Now that I have given you a sample of questions to ask and how I want you to frame them, I want to give you the questions I want you to avoid. You want to avoid questions like, what can I do to improve, what would you like to see me offer, or what appointment times do you like best. When we ask questions like that it’s like saying give me your wish list and I’ll grant all your wishes. This is not appropriate or sustainable, because it’ll lead to clients saying this is what I asked for, you didn’t make it happen for whatever the reasons may be, and it will overall lead to a negative effect. So please keep in mind to be really careful with how you phrase your questions.
Lost Client Survey:
Let’s move on to our second type of survey, and that is going to be for our lost clients, the ones who have decided to stop seeing you. What we will want to do is create this survey and email it to our guests who haven’t seen us in 4 months or more. Now for some of you, you may have some guests who only see you twice a year, I would not consider that your base. You can’t build a clientele on clients who see you only twice year. For me if somebody hasn’t seen me in four or five months, they’re going to get this lost client survey so we can figure out what happened to them. The lost client survey is super simple and not nearly as complicated as the existing client survey, because if you don’t keep it short and sweet the person isn’t going to fill it out. They don’t have an ongoing relationship with us and they aren’t invested in helping us see our business succeed. You are going to get a much lower rate of return on these, but those who do return it, their feedback is going to be priceless.
You will still set up the lost client survey in Survey Monkey, but this time we’re only going to ask for name and email, again keep the name part optional. For a lost client I like to keep it totally anonymous because even if they’re angry and upset I’m probably not going to be able to pull them back in anyway, so I would rather get as much honesty as I could possibly get.
Question Number One: What was your primary reason for leaving my business?
I like to do multiple choice for this question and include the following; scheduling options, my prices are too expensive for your budget, my service experience doesn’t seem to justify the price point, the appointments don’t run on time, the guest experience wasn’t what I expected. These are the categories I like to provide, and I don’t give the option to fill in the blank. Think about the categories that work best for you even though they’re painful. Even though they are painful, we need to know why a client is deciding to leave. Whatever you think is a possible reason why your guest may have left you, you need to put that in there. One of my favorites of those options is the option of my service experience didn’t seem to justify the price point. That means the guest felt like they were paying too much for what they got, and a lot of us get real defensive about that. I want you to resist the temptation to label anyone who fills out your survey crazy, because this is how clients really feel after their visit with you. For better or worse. Based on that feedback you can either shift your marketing and shift your branding and start attracting a different target market that might be more in alignment with you or you can take a good hard look at yourself and be like well shoot maybe I am not living up to expectation I am promising these people. Either way some kind of change needs to happen and you need to hear the real talk in order to make it happen.
Question Number Two: Please elaborate on why you decided to see a new stylist.
This is the only other question we ask and we do this one as a fill in the blank style question. Two questions for the lost client survey and that’s it, we want to keep it super simple, short and to the point. If all they did was check a box why they left that in itself is invaluable, so if they fill in the blank even better. Even if all the did was fill in the checkbox, great, we can work from there.
Again, the lost client survey is super simple and you would send this out through email as well, and hope to get a good rate of return. For the existing client survey, I would love to get about a 20% response, anything about 20% percent felt great to me. Anything below 20% you probably have an email deliverability issue. For the lost client survey even if you got a couple back a month that would be great. If you went back a few months and sent at least 50 out and 2 or 3 came back completed that would be a good rate of return. Not everybody is going to fill out the lost client survey, but those who do it’s like gold. It is worth the effort of sending them out even if you don’t get great feedback from the beginning, stick with it, because those who do respond it’s invaluable.
So, the last phase of the client survey is to review the feedback and make a plan to improve, and that can be a really difficult part of the process. I want to give you a couple of tools to help you along the way. If you go back to the 8th episode of my podcast it’s all about building your confidence, and even the most confident person in the world can learn a ton from that episode, so please take a moment to head there and check it out. Also, the 12th episode of my podcast is about giving the ultimate consultation which is huge and one of the most popular episodes I have ever done. Even those of you who think you do killer consultations, this is a game changer. I urge you to take the time to listen to both episodes and really reflect on your business and think back to what you can do to be that stellar stylist and to be living in that arena that you want to be in.
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