Why You Need Consultation Forms, And What To Do If It All Goes Wrong

Do you get EVERY client to complete a consultation form?  Do you read it?  Do your team read it?

Consultation forms are legal standard operating procedure in the beauty business – and its drilled into every beauty professional just how important they are from day dot. But what if it is forgotten or overlooked?

Whilst we all aim to be 100% perfect, we are humans, and there can be an occasional slip up and something can be overlooked.

If you are lucky, it won’t matter – the clients will have no allergies or issues.  However in that very, very rare case where they do – you may get well and truly bitten in the bottom.  And nobody wants that.

And bitten I was once, when one of my therapists didn’t realise her client hadn’t completed a form and proceeded to do a treatment on them.  It soon transpired that they had an allergy to perfumed products

Now, this therapist is a GOOD egg.  She is thoughtful, caring, likable, reliable and an excellent team member – but she made an error.  An error that could have caused us HUGE ISSUES.

In that 0.01% of times you make an error and the client reacts to the treatment – what on earth do you do?

When something goes wrong it is all about how you deal with the situation
When something goes wrong it is all about how you deal with the situation

1. Handle the issue with respect and dignity

The client is unhappy and annoyed.  Had they been taken through the correct steps, this issue wouldn’t have happened. This could have happened to them previous to a really important event such as a wedding – and they may be very upset.  Be understanding to this and do not makes things worse.

2. Refund

You took their money for an inadequate treatment.  You didn’t follow procedure.  Give them back their money straight away and dont argue it.  This will straight away demonstrate an agreement that they have accepted your action.

3. Don’t tell them what you normally do

Telling the client you always usually complete forms is irrelevant.  What happens to every one else doesn’t apply in this case.  You didn’t with them and you must be responsible for your actions, or those of your team.

4. Apologise

You haven’t ensured your client’s safety and they know it.  Acknowledge over the phone or face to face that there has been an error and accept the mistake.  Do not try and weasel your way out of this.   You must face the music and accept that honesty is the best policy.

5. Listen

If the client gets angry and vents about the situation, calmly listen.  They are upset and they need to know you are taking them time to understand their issues.  They will also feel much better about getting it off their chest.   It is also much better that they vent their feelings to you, and not to the next twenty people they speak to.  Or the local media.  Or Twitter.

6. Keep notes

You must keep a record of everything they say to you and what you say back.  Also print all emails and correspondence and keep in a file.  If you need to refer back to this then it will pay to be organised.

7. Get them back in

They are worried about your competence as a business.  If they leave angry and feel their issue hasn’t been sorted, they will not return and will spread negative words.  Provide them with a different treatment, with a different therapist (preferably senior) to calm the storm, complimentary.  You want their thoughts to be “I had a problem, they listened, they fixed it, then they reassured me with a great alternative treatment for free. I feel satisfied with their response”.

You may even find that they become an even more valuable client in the future.   Sometimes a mistake can lead to excellent customer service and resolution of a problem – with the client leaving thinking more highly of you than had the situation never happened.  Just make sure they complete a consultation form this time…

8. Refer to the insurance experts

If the client wants to seek compensation, refer them to your insurance provider who will take care of the issue for you.   Yes, you should have the appropriate, specialist insurance!

Panic has never helped anyone.  Ever.
Panic has never helped anyone. Ever.

9. Dont Panic

Its scary when it happens but follow these steps, deal with the issues and slap your self / staff member on the wrist then move forward. It happens to us and it will keep you awake at night if you dont deal with it head on.  Keep your forms up to date and relevant and seek advice if you need it.  But also remember that people generally will accept that we are humans and occasionally mistakes can happen.   It is how you deal with it afterwards which is key.

Have you had an experience in your salon where a client has gone from being upset to thinking you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread?  If so, let me know in comments below – I’d love to hear about it!

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