Industry • Best Practice
The Six Stages of Client Experience Beauty Biz Owners Need to Know
By Boulevard Staff
Here’s what you need to focus on to keep your clients coming back for years
While creating an excellent client experience is a core ingredient to success across industries, it’s particularly true for beauty businesses. For many people, their time in the salon or spa is a big part of their self-care regimen, so even occasional hiccups in the experience can put a significant dent in its perceived value.
To help you optimize every aspect of this journey, let’s review the six stages of the beauty client experience — and the keys to success in each.
Stage 1: Booking
The booking stage includes everything a client has to do to schedule an appointment at your beauty business, covering activities like Google searching, calling your front desk staff, booking an appointment online, or visiting your business to schedule one in person.
For business owners and managers, it’s critical to focus on making this stage as simple and smooth as possible, as any excess friction in the process directly impacts your conversion rate. Your booking numbers will definitely take a hit if, for example, clients can only schedule appointments over the phone, your website is a bit tricky to navigate for a first-time visitor, or your process isn’t mobile-friendly.
As you optimize this stage, use industry benchmarks to help you gauge your progress. For instance — according to Contentsquare’s digital experience benchmark report — the beauty industry's average website conversion rate is 3.2%. Below this rate? Time to investigate. Consistently higher? Time to celebrate.
Stage 2: Appointment prep
From intake forms to text reminders, the preparation stage encompasses every client touchpoint between booking and the moment they walk through your doors.
During this period, your goal should be to help your clients get ready for their upcoming visit and feel at ease with your team. One of the most powerful ways you can do this is by asking clients to tell you a little more about themselves and what they’re looking for through a thorough (but concise) online intake form. Adding this element signals to your clients that you’re doing everything you can to cater to their needs — and gives your team the data they need to deliver a premium experience.
With 66% of modern clients expecting businesses to “understand their needs and expectations,” this level of service will give you a leg up on competitors who don’t.
Stage 3: Welcoming the client
The welcoming stage begins when they arrive at your business and ends when the service kicks off. Usually, this stage involves client greeting, a check-in process, and a waiting period.
Like stage one, the secret to success here is speed — especially when it comes to check-in. Don’t make clients wait for the front desk staff to have a free moment before they can check in and take their seats. Instead, think about using tech-forward self-service methods that leverage a simple app delivered via a stationary tablet to make what is essentially paperwork as pain-free as possible.
Considering a 2020 report by Zendesk found that extended wait times are the number one most frustrating element of a poor client experience, doing everything you can to accelerate the welcoming stage will go a long way to creating a stress-free visit.
Stage 4: Providing the service
The service stage is the main event, where your beauty business delivers the cut, treatment, etc., that your client has eagerly been waiting for.
As we touched on earlier, personalization is the name of the game: The more your staff can tailor the service to the individual in the chair, the better that person’s experience will be. To ensure this happens, you must provide your staff with as much information about the client as possible. For many beauty businesses, this means using a client experience platform that collects and presents this client data for easy use during an appointment.
Boulevard was designed to do exactly this. Our platform features comprehensive and easy-to-navigate client profiles that house everything from their service history to social media accounts. Using this feature, your staff can get a quick read on what makes the client tick, maximizing the level of personalization your business can provide.
Stage 5: The send-off
The send-off stage includes paying for the service, upselling, rebooking, and more — and getting this stage right can make a huge difference in how your clients view your brand.
Why? Well, there’s a good bit of scientific research demonstrating what’s known as the “Primacy/Recency effect”: The tendency for people to remember the first and last parts of an educational experience. For beauty business owners and managers, this quirk of the human mind makes it very important to get both the start and the finish of an appointment right because they will largely determine what your clients will feel about your brand the next time they need the service you provide.
Here again, streamlining the experience should be the top priority, and nowhere is that more important than the payment process. Your clients should be able to settle the bill in whatever manner suits them best (cash, card, mobile, etc.), so make sure your software and hardware cover all the bases. Few things are more likely to leave a bad impression than a simple transaction that goes off the rails because of faulty tech.
Stage 6: Nurturing the relationship
The nurturing stage lies between the last service and the next potential booking, and it’s also where beauty businesses do some of the heaviest lifting when it comes to retention.
Unlike the appointment, most of the variables during this stage lie outside your control. Consequently, you must sustain an active line of communication with your clients to continue building the relationship. And to do that, you’re going to have to have strong email marketing skills. You can use this powerful channel to keep your clients in the loop on important announcements, share valuable promotions, celebrate their birthdays, or just let them know they’re missed if they haven’t stopped by for a while.
Email — not texting — is the top choice for businesses because of its untouchable ROI and because when clients prefer to hear from brands that way. If you want to cultivate an enduring connection with your clients, a strong email strategy is the way.
How to become a (client experience) pro
Building a growing beauty business doesn’t happen by accident. It also doesn’t happen without a stellar client experience. From the initial booking to ongoing nurturing, this article has outlined how owners and managers can delight their clients across the entire lifecycle of their relationship.
To continue leveling up your game, read our client experience guide.