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Why You Need a Customer Service Strategy (And 7 Ways to Build One!)

customer service strategy for groomers

Brooke Norris

While suds and shears form the backbone of your grooming business, having outstanding customer service can make the difference between a business that is just getting by to one that is thriving.  Ultimately, how your client remembers you matters more than ribbons and bows — and is a better predictor of whether or not they’ll become a repeat customer. Developing a killer customer service strategy is the best thing you can do for your business — it differentiates you from your competitors, creates long-term relationships with clients, and sets you up for success. 

But we all know that customer service isn’t easy — especially in a business where clients, both furry and not, can be unruly. So here, the experts at PawCare have broken down the seven best things you can do to level up your customer service skills. 

1. Engage in Active Listening  

While this tip is perhaps our simplest, it is the most important step in setting the tone for a positive customer experience and interaction. Being genuinely interested in what your customer tells you builds a relationship and reduces your chances of making a mistake. Listening well and responding with follow-up questions or simple affirmations that you’re listening go a long way. Making eye contact and showing engagement through your body language also communicates that your customer matters and reassures them that their pet is in responsible hands.   

2. Take Responsibility for Mistakes 

The rules for small businesses are the same as many basic human relationships — tell the truth and admit when you’re wrong. If you forgot to clip nails or gave them the wrong trim, don’t wait to see if the customer notices. Admit you’re wrong and offer a solution, such as a free or discounted service. 

Again, this tip is deceptively simple. Taking responsibility can be challenging in the moment, especially if a customer is upset or angry. The best thing you can do is to prepare for these situations in advance — because they will happen, even to the best groomers! — by having a strategy. Think of a few common ways something could go wrong with a grooming appointment, and do your best to have a course of action for remedying each. For example, if a client calls complaining that you forgot to clip their pet’s nails, know that your bottom line won’t suffer if you offer them a 15% discount on their next service and offer to squeeze them in for a nail clipping. 

Having a playbook will help keep you calm and level-headed, allowing you to properly take responsibility for a mistake. It is also crucial to have if you employ multiple groomers or have a salon manager who may be interacting with customers instead of you — empowering your people to own up to their mistakes and giving them the tools they need to make things right will go a long way for both your business and your employees. 

3. Make Sure any Liability Papers are Signed Before You Begin

The motto “the customer is always right” works well as a business model (and goes a long way towards point number two on this list), but you should also pay attention to what customers say and keep notes to avoid potential gaslighting and liability. 

For example, if you charge an extra fee for bad behavior and the customer argues that it’s an unwarranted charge, you should be able to respectfully provide a signed agreement that the customer signed beforehand giving their permission for the additional fee and evidence that the behavior occurred.  

4. Remember You’re in Control of Who You Do Business With

While you should always have animal bailee (a type of business insurance) coverage in case an accident happens with a pet in your care, you also retain the full right to refuse service to dogs who might present a high risk to your business. For example, if a dog is overly terrified of the clippers and repeatedly bites your employees or puts themselves in unreasonable danger, you may politely decline future business out of legal and personal concerns. 

The same rule applies to your human clients, too. While it is often more obvious when a pet may be a bad fit for your business, it is equally important to part ways with problem customers. Is your client always late? Are they never happy with your services? Are they rude or disrespectful to your employees? If you’ve employed the tips above and still can’t provide a positive experience for a client, it may be time to draw the line. After all, they’re likely impacting your ability to service your other clients properly! If you decide to part ways, be sure to make a note in your grooming management software to avoid accepting appointments from them in the future. 

The bottom line: Don’t let disrespectful customers take advantage of you, but always remain calm and professional while standing firm in your convictions.    

5. Keep Written Record of Special Notes 

Remembering details specific to the pet such as guard settings and unusual behaviors instills confidence in your clients. However, it can be difficult to recall these things with customers you may only see a few times a year. Grooming software like PawCare keeps customer notes digitally so you can have the information on file without asking the customer every time. It’ll instill confidence in your clients and take a load off your mind since you’re not having to consciously remember notes for every single pet.  

6. Maintain Timely Communications  

Responding to emails and booking requests may take a backseat when you’re elbow-deep in dog fur. However, prompt communication matters a lot to customers — especially when their dog is looking a little shaggy or smells like dirty socks. 

Investing in a pet grooming software like PawCare — which allows customers to book their own appointments online, sends automated reminder emails and texts, and handles phone calls for you — allows you to focus on other matters while still taking care of the booking part of your business. 

7. Create Blockout Dates in Advance 

A major perk of owning your own business is being able to set your own hours and vacation schedule. However, while time off is healthy and even necessary to relieve stress and increase productivity, it’s a good idea to give your clients a heads up before you go.  

Blocking out your vacation days far in advance on a 2-way customer app like PawCare gives repeat customers time to adjust their next appointment. This is a much more professional approach than the small business pitfall of closing unexpectedly or at the last minute at the owner’s convenience.  

Final Thoughts

A consistent customer service strategy puts clients at ease, which is especially helpful in the pet care industry when many pet parents feel apprehensive about putting their fur baby in a stranger’s hands. Showing a warm and respectful demeanor builds trust in customers, who will be more likely to return to you for their pet’s next bath or haircut.  

Interested to learn more ways PawCare can help your business grow? Make time to chat with one of our grooming business experts today!

Brooke is a freelance writer, and has created articles for companies like Betterpet, Hepper, and PawCare. Her dog, Tuggles, and her cats give her real-life experience as a pet parent and sometimes appear as guest contributors in her posts. She happily makes her home in the Appalachian foothills where she takes note of the local wildflowers and haunts the neighborhood coffee shops.

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