Salon & Hospitality Faux Pas – Avoid these client service mistakes

It’s such hard work attracting your perfect client; please don’t scare them away unintentionally. From my own observations as a hospitality and retail designer and from my own experience as a customer, there are a few key areas where you have total control over how customers perceive your brand. Designers notice every detail, how they work in practice, and what to avoid; these should be at the top of your list of client retention strategies. Don’t get caught unaware. With a background in critique & design of first and business class Airline Lounges, every customer touch point becomes a consideration.

96% of unhappy customers don’t complain, however, 91% of those will simply leave and never come back

IFinancial Training Services

Select music to match your brand.

The selection of music in your customer space must to pair perfectly with how you want clients to perceive your brand. For example, it’s jarring to walk into a cafe that sells coffee & European desserts, and hear asian music in the background, that does not emphasise the theme of the cafe.

Noise is a conversation killer.

If your space is too noisy then it’s simply not enjoyable. I’ve been to dinner functions in restaurants with wonderful food but really poor acoustics & music and ambient noise so loud that it becomes impossible to hold a conversation. The culprit is too many hard surfaces such as concrete, plaster and glass. A perfect balance of hard surfaces and soft, absorbent acoustic treatments is essential to create an atmosphere for conversation.


Your space should always be perfectly clean. I don’t want to walk in a cafe feeling my feet sticking to the floor as I walk every step, and I don’t feel comfortable putting my bag on your floor if it’s sticky when I sit down at a table.

Bathroom Niceties please!

Your bathroom is a direct reflection on your service & how much you care for your customers. I want to be able to visit the bathroom and expect with confidence that all of the surfaces have been selected with hygiene in mind & spotless. I want to be able to hang my bag & coat on a hook that is not broken in the stall; I certainly don’t want to be forced to put anything on the floor! I need a clean dry shelf to put my bag while I wash & dry my hands (the bench beside the basin does not cut it because it has invariably been splashed with water). I want to dry my hands and not have water dripping all over the floor. Please provide a hand dryer that actually dries so I don’t walk out with wet hands in the middle of winter, and offer me hand towels in summer because it’s waaay too hot for hand dryers then. The colours and finishes selected for your space should reflect cleanliness, durability and lend themselves to easy maintenance.

Personal Hygiene.

I once walked into a brand new local grocery store, took one whiff, and walked straight back out, never to return. The owner’s B.O. was that bad.

Refreshments please!

We designers love a bit of a pamper – please offer me a chilled glass of water on a hot Melbourne day when I walk into your showroom. When I’m waiting for my hair colour to process I’ll have a coffee or two (latte please!). I love when I treat myself to Endota; the offering fragrant green tea while I’m waiting heightens that anticipation of a great spa experience. Small gestures like these show you care, and offer a distraction while I’m waiting if your super busy.

No more Rag magazines.

Keep a wide selection of different types of recent magazines & treat your client as an intelligent being; don’t just offer “OK! Magazine” or the like really bad rags. Please think outside the box and offer unique local offerings like “Collective” women’s business magazine, “Frankie” for those creative mo or “Breathe” for when I’m feeling like absorbing some wellness knowledge.

Your lunch smells really lunchy!

Your curry lunch aroma does not go hand-in-hand with your retail or salon branding I’m afraid. And it’s making me hungry. Ensure your staff lunch area has a great exhaust fan to suck those smells right out of there. Likewise for chemical smells from mixing colours or nail polish; a great air-conditioning system is a must!

I like your ceilings….

Yes I notice the details that you don’t, and most people really don’t look up. However if your spa, beauty room or hair wash station, then the ceiling does become the focus for your customer. Key elements are low, dimmable lighting (preferably concealed) so you’re not blinding your clients when they’re enjoying a relaxing massage. Plasterboard ceilings are a must (banish that ceiling grid and tile system); a touch of detail like a cornice is nice if it’s in keeping with your styling & brand.

Keep your space in top shape.

I once booked in for a bikini wax at a Salon I had not visited before. I was disappointed to discover the sliding door to the room did not work, and the proprietor had to physically wrestle it closed for me so I could undress in privacy. Needless to say, I never went back. Regardless of whether these sorts of things annoy your clients, it was in fact a safety factor; if there had been an emergency it would have been difficult to escape.

(please pin the below graphic to your pinterest board for reference)

In conclusion…

Your client’s experience of your service is affected by all of the little details and interactions they have with the space. If I’ve dropped into a cafe (which I do often before meetings), I’ll generally do so as I always try to arrive early for my meeting to avoid being rushed, grab a coffee & snack (I invariably miss out on lunch) while I review my meeting notes or presentation material, and visit the loo so I’m refreshed and prepared. The last thing I want is to have no-where to put my coat or bag, while I do what I need & touch up my lippy, etc. The whole cafe experience is important to me as a way to make sure I’m 100% ready to meet my client, and to have a little breathing space in the middle of a busy day.

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