Today I wanted to show you how to write a complaints policy for your salon. And delve a little deeper into a topic that I covered in a previous post, on How to handle customer complaints.
This is because it is an unfortunate reality that we all have to face in one way or another, in dealing with the public. (It’s not all roses, contrary to popular belief!)
In my customer complaints post, I talk about how to best handle these gripes. Then how to minimize the dissatisfaction caused, with pointers on how to avoid them altogether.
In this article I hope to inspire you to consider writing an official customer complaints policy if you haven’t already. And emphasise its importance within a successful salon.
What is a complaints policy?
A complaints policy is simply a document outlining a procedure to follow when/if a complaint arises. It helps protect both parties, and ensures that they are dealt with professionally and consistently. It also helps support your staff during a matter of contention, so be sure they understand the policy too.
An insurance in a way, to safeguard against wrongdoing and help manage expectations on both sides.
Why a complaints policy is an integral part of running a successful salon
You haven’t needed one to date, so why start now?
We are currently living in a litigious society. Therefore it is even more paramount to be ahead of the game when it comes to these situations. And have a complaints policy for your salon in place if the situation arises and you need to draw from it.
We have almost all had someone displeased with some work we have produced within the salon. Be it justly or not, we need to come to some common ground with the unhappy customer that we are faced with. And come up with a foolproof plan moving forward.
What if they return 3 weeks after the appointment, picking fault at the service they received? Do you amend it for free at this point?
Or they decide a day later that they wish to have more cut off, in spite of your recommendation and their initial wishes. Do you charge them again?
It is these exact scenarios are when a complaints policy really comes into its own. Having a guideline to refer to and a physical document to hand.
Again as previously mentioned in ‘How to deal with complaints’. The first step to handle ANY complaint is with empathy and NOT jump the gun or get defensive.
Having these systems in place BEFORE any issues arise are critical. This way no one undermines authority and a solution can be met quickly and efficiently. Protecting both your salon’s reputation and that of your staff against bad reviews or worse, slander.
According to the new consumer rights act which came into effect as of 1st October 2015 (In England and Wales) Our clients have new rights in accordance to these new laws, that we need to be fully aware of.
This makes having a complaints policy even more invaluable in your salon. Let’s look at what they include, as listed on the nhf website:
- Clients can ask you to repeat or fix a service that has not been carried out with reasonable care and skill. Or get some money back if you are unable to fix it.
- If no price has been agreed upfront, the service must be fairly priced in accordance with the clients requests.
- If you haven’t agree a time frame upfront, these need to be carried out within a reasonable time.
Complaints need to be resolved within 8 weeks. If the complaint has not been resolved going through the salons complaint procedure, you must provide the details of a certified Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provider.
Alternative dispute resolution involves using a mediator as an alternative to taking expensive legal action. For example the client or the salon going to the small claims court.
The mediator is an impartial and independent third party who listens to both sides and helps the salon and client come to a fair and reasonable compromise which, if agreed, becomes legally binding.
Salons do not have to agree to using mediation, but you are obliged to tell clients who to go to and whether you would be willing to use the mediation as a tool to settle the dispute. However if you should choose NOT to use ADR, your refusal would have to be reasonable and justified.
How to write one & what points need to be included?
Let’s look at an example of a policy sanctioned in KG salon, you could use this as a template for your own salon policy or as a guideline.
[INSERT YOUR SALON NAME] Complaints Policy
“Our aim is to provide the best service possible. While we always strive to achieve this, there will be times when the client is unhappy with the service. We aim to handle complaints quickly in an effective, fair and honest way.”
The policy aims to ensure that:
All members of the public know how to feed back to [Your salon name] and the process of making a complaint is simple;
All staff treat feedback seriously ad deal with it promptly, efficiently, courteously and keep the customer informed of the progress;
Improved customer relations are built by resolving feedback during the initial stages wherever possible.
All feedback is recorded and monitored so that we learn from it and take action to improve services.
The definition of a complaint
A complaint is as follows:
“An expression of dissatisfaction regarding [INSERT your salon name] standard of training, service, action or lack of action”
Please note a complaint is not ‘An initial request for a service to be delivered’.
Who can make a complaint?
Any member of the public or their representative, staff, businesses, public and voluntary bodies can make a complaint about [Insert salon name].
How a complaint can be made
- Verbally – To the tutor or head office
- Email – In the ‘contact us’ area of the site
- Letter – To the head office in [Insert location]
4 Salon Saviour
Salon Saviour road
The complaints process
- All complaints must be made to the customer service manager. A response should be made within 5 working days. This is regardless of how the complaint or expression of dissatisfaction is made.
- If you feel the response to your complaint under stage one is unsatisfactory, the next stage is for the complaint to be referred to the Management Team who will investigate further and liaise with with any additional staff whose information may help resolve the complaint.
- You will receive a response within 10 working days. If an interim reply is needed you will be given a timescale by which a full reply will be received.
- If you feel the response to your complaint is still not satisfactory, you must advise us within one calendar month of the date of the response from stage 2 otherwise the case will be closed. The Chief Executive / or relevant Director will then conduct an Internal Review. A full response will normally be received within 15 days.
Confidentiality: All complaints are treated with confidentiality in mind. Only the customer service manager will be aware that a complaint has been received and is being dealt with. Where the complaint extends to the training service, while the tutor may be requested to provide information to satisfy the complaint, this will be handled appropriately as to not prejudice further training or assessments.
Anonymous complaints will be acted upon, however it is better to provide contact details so that the complainant can be informed of the outcome.
Aggressive or obsessive complaints
[Insert salon name] wants to deal fairly and honestly with complainants and ensure that other users, clients and staff do not suffer detriment from persons making vexatious complaints.
[Insert salon name] solicitors will write to vexatious complainants to inform them that their behaviour is considered to be unacceptable.
Complaints about products and manufacturers
[Insert salon name] recognises complaints regarding products and equipment supplied through ourselves, and any organisation contracted to work or supply [Insert salon name], and will seek to resolve such complaints.
[Insert salon name] will forward complaints received in respect of other organisations to the appropriate bodies.
[Insert salon name] aims to handle all complaints fairly and honestly regardless of who makes the complaint. [Insert salon name] treats all members of the community equitably and will not show bias to any particular individual or group.
Matters that are outside the policy
The following matters are not included in this policy;
Complaints which are subject to legal proceedings
All Complaints must are logged, recorded and analysed as part of the customer satisfaction procedure.
Please note; this complaints policy has been lifted from KG salon website. Any legal advice must be sought from a professional that deals in this area, to ensure you and your salon are protected.
There you have it folks. Sorry this post has been particularly wordy today, but I’ve got your back and felt it was an essential topic to cover. I hope I have opened your eyes to the importance of having a complaints policy within your salon, and posed some questions as to why.
Don’t delay, get a salon complaints procedure written up for your salon if you haven’t already! It is imperative for the well being of your salon and for continued growth and development.
Just as a side note on this: Use your own discretion on each individual merit as they come. Most complaints rarely get to dispute stage. And as clients are our lifeblood as hairdressers and salon owners, bridges will be burned with these clients. Pick your battles carefully and decide how far you are willing to go with proceedings.
Do you have a complaints policy for your salon? What have you included in yours?
As always, I love to hear your feedback. So please drop me a line on what you thought of this post!
Disclaimer: Always seek legal advice when compiling any legal document. I am not a lawyer, just offering insight on this matter. Therefore negate any responsibility of any action taken against me as a result of any misdemeanour based on this advice.