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"I want something completely different," the client will say, "but please use natural colours and the same MAC palette as I do." Or maybe it's "but I always draw on my eyebrows like that." You'll smile and agree but in your head you'll be thinking that you're holding a mascara wand and not a magic wand. 

The client is always right, after all. Or are they?

Nope!

You have years of experience and chances are you’ll know straight away if a client wants to do something tragic to their face or hair. So where did the expression come from then?

Go all the way back to 1909 and luxury department store Selfridge’s where Harry Gordon Selfridge coined the expression ‘the customer is always right’.

Why is the expression still so popular a century later? Well, Selfridge never intended for it to be a catch-all, but as motivation for staff to look after customers and keep in mind their satisfaction. Plus, retail is a whole other ball game: a customer can return a dress they thought suited them but if they insist on butchering their eyebrows you can’t exactly get the old ones back.

How to deal with difficult or clueless clients

The clueless clients aren’t so bad. Alright, so you left them in the changing room ten minutes ago to get ready for their tan and now they’re still fully-clothed and looking at you a bit funny, but you can usually have a chat with them to explain. It’s the difficult clients that will have you slowly counting down from ten in your head.

Maybe your client keeps giving ‘helpful’ tips or they are adamant they want you to commit an absolute crime against makeup. (Step away from the blue sparkly eye shadow!) Whatever it is, here are five tips to talk even the most difficult of clients round.

1. Choose your words carefully

“That’s a terrible idea” won’t win you any clients. Instead, use phrasing like ‘I suggest’ and ‘I think’ and offer alternatives like ‘I think this would really suit your eyes’. That way you can avoid disaster while keeping them onside.

2. Be specific and use visuals

Right down to the inch, colour, and design! If the client knows exactly what they’re getting in specific terms, there is less wiggle room for a problem to develop.

While the client might think they want something, they could have their wording mixed up or be living on la-la land where they think Shellac is the same as regular nail polish. (The horror!)

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It isn’t, no matter how insistent they are. If you have example photos, you can show them the difference.

Same goes if they’ve asked for a style and you’re not sure what they mean: ask them to show you a picture.

3. Sometimes you’re just going to have to shut them down

If a scorned client has burst into your salon and is spitting fire and shouting and roaring in front of other customers, sometimes all you can do is quietly shut them down. Don’t be mean; be firm.

On the other side of the coin, some clients will absolutely not be talked round so you’ll just have to go with their request and hope it doesn’t turn out too badly.

4. Be prepared to apologise

Just as much as the customer isn’t always right, they’re also not always wrong. There’s a chance that you might make a mistake or a bad call. It happens. Swallow your pride and fix the problem if you can. Apologise – and mean it!

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5. Acknowledge what they said

Acknowledgement doesn’t have to be agreeing! ‘I understand where you’re coming from’ is a golden phrase so use it.

Got any advice for dealing with tough customers? Let us know in the comments below!

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Main image source: Fashion Climaxx

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