The triggers for deciding not to proceed can include everything from not being able to book at a time convenient to them, to rudeness on the part of the receptionist, or any other perceived slight that gives the customer a reason to lack confidence in the process.
This point does not have a definable moment at which feedback occurs. This is typical in many businesses - it's akin to a customer walking in and then walking out without purchase. In this case, if the customer is on the line and decides not to make an appointment, the receptionist should immediately recognize that there is a problem and attempt to recover. Since, however, the receptionist may be the problem, management needs to have some involvement at this stage of the process. I would make it a policy that any time a customer calls inquiring about an appointment, management be notified. If the customer left their contact information, management can return the call quickly and attempt to rectify the situation. Even if no contact information was gained, management can log the event. This can allow them to track such occurrences and use that information to make a determination if there is a customer service problem or not.
The second moment of truth is when the customer enters the salon. Again, at this point apprehension felt on the part of the customer could potentially result in them walking out. Or alternately, they may decide to proceed with the visit to the stylist, but misgivings developed here could result in a lack of future visits unless the work of the stylist is so impressive they are willing to overlook the service failure at this stage. Although a customer decision to balk at the appointment is rare at this stage, management should be aware of the possibility.
More importantly, a system should be in place to gather feedback even before the stylist proceeds with the work. In this case, the stylist can solicit the feedback, inquiring discreetly about the customer's experience with the salon to date. The manager can also do this if they have yet to interact with the customer.
The most important moment of truth is after the stylist has performed the service. This stage already has a feedback loop built into the process, where the stylist will as a matter of course inquire about the quality of the service performed. The one flaw in this feedback system is that the feedback is being given directly, face-to-face, with the person who performed the task. Many customers are unwilling to register discontent in this context. This is especially true with a new hairstyle where the client knows he/she is judging on first impressions - the truer test will be in the coming days when the work is evaluated by his or her friends.
The manager should therefore be involved her in a process of follow-up feedback. This will involve making inquiries not only into the quality of the hair style but also into the totality of the service experience. This is an ideal point at which to do this, because the client is still captive until the transaction is finalized, giving management ample opportunity to rectify the situation.
Two forms of compensation should be offered, depending on the service issue at hand. If the problem was with the customer service at some point prior to the performance...
The most important thing about compensation is that it should have meaning to the client. For example, a discount on a future haircut does not have meaning if the client decides not to return to that salon. A discount on the current haircut is not only valuable compensation, but immediate, and allows the client to exit the premises satisfied.
If the issue at hand is the work of the stylist, there may yet be an opportunity to salvage the customer. In this case, I would recommend offering a discount on the existing cut, and the opportunity to rebook at another time with a different stylist, to correct whatever problems there may be. Ideally this rebooking would be at a time when the present stylist was not working. It may be necessary to forge a relationship with another salon in order to pass each other unsatisfied clients for "repair" cuts.
Lastly, another feedback loop should be opened. The evaluation of the service should have been completed by the time the customer exits the premises, and all remedies offered. However, the final judgment on the stylist's work comes later. The customer must evaluate the style after sleeping on it, literally. The style can look great when he or she leaves the salon, but the customer may not feel as pleased after a day or two. Moreover, they will in all likelihood solicit feedback from their friends, and this will aid in forming an opinion about the overall quality of the work.
A feedback loop should be added here. Management, or even the receptionist, should contact each client a few days after their appointment. Time constraints may limit this to new clients, or clients who have switched stylists, which I would deem acceptable. The customer should be given the opportunity to discuss directly with the salon when their impressions are, after they've made a final decision regarding the product.
At this point, compensation for issues becomes more complex. The person soliciting the feedback must be empowered to offer a range of possible compensations. They should probe the customer to find out what will make them happy. Another stylist may be the answer, but so may some form of financial compensation. If the customer agrees that they do intend to visit the salon again, a discount on their next visit will have value. if, however, they do not agree, or seem to be wavering, then another form of compensation, be it movie tickets or a restaurant voucher, would be more appropriate. Of course, the compensation offer should include an understanding of the nature of the problem and a statement explaining the course of action that will be taken to ensure the problem is never repeated.
Van Bennekom, Fred no date, ' Making the Case for Service Recovery - Customer Retention'. GreatBook.com Retrieved May 19, 2008 at http://www.greatbook.com/effective_complaint_handling.htm
Tschol, John 2005, 'Service Recovery: Create Loyal Customers for Life' Small Business Toolbox Retrieved May 19, 2008 at http://www.nfib.com/object/IO_21944.html
Sidorowicz, Rick 2001, 'Customer Obsession - Service Recovery' the CEO Refresher Retrieved May 19, 2008 at http://www.refresher.com/!obsession3.html
Bliss, Jeannie 2007, '10 Steps to Recovery for Jet Black and Blue' Mpdailyfix.com Retrieved May 19, 2008 at http://www.mpdailyfix.com/2007/02/jet_black_and_blue_can_jet_blu.html no author 2006, 'Services Management' NC State University Retrieved May 19, 2008 at http://www4.ncsu.edu/~hp/MMW-Lecture5.pdf no author 2008, 'The Service Recovery Paradox: Increased Loyalty through Effective Service Recovery' Customer Experience Labs Retrieved May 19, 2008 http://www.customer-experience-labs.com/2008/04/14/the-service-recovery-paradox-increased-loyalty-through-effective-service-recovery/
Baird, Martin 2002, 'The Customer Service Audit - Don't Allow Sacred Cows' Casinocustomerservice.com. Retrieved May 19, 2008 at http://www.casinocustomerservice.com/post_articles/ig_11_02.htm
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