Thursday, September 13, 2007

Salon Experience

Case Study:
Pepper's Salon, Puyallup, Washington
Challenge: Improve website and increase traffic flow of new clients to the salon by October 2008.
Idea Wanted: Get more out business from the website, and create a customer experience that draws more new clients.

The Background: Owner Sally Flink has a reasonably successful salon, which has been operating for 20 years. They have a small advertising budget and a website that is doing okay, but not great. The website is two years old.

Pepper's has already added several magic spots to their customer experience, but these need to be tied together in a cohesive theme.

Advice: First develop your theme. Then design your customer experience around that theme.

In Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, brothers Chip and Dan Heath tell us that if you want to make your experience sticky, step outside of standard operating procedure:

"The most basic way to get someone's attention is this: break a pattern."

Themes allow you to break the normal business pattern for a customer and create stickiness. Themes give you permission to create a different world within your business, surprising your customers with something sticky and out of the ordinary.

Pepper's has chosen Style as their theme.

Our Ideas:

  1. Extend the Style theme to the website: Add pictures of famous hairstyles from which your clients can choose, for example Victoria Beckham's, and then add a link to "send to a friend."

  2. On the website, post comparison pictures of styles that you've done for clients next to the model style or famous person's style. Again, add a "send to a friend" link.

  3. When customers enter the waiting area, rather than offering coffee, tea or a water, offer an upscale stylish beverage; such as Brazilian Blend Coffee, Chai, or Voss bottled water.

  4. Team up with a local, upscale fashion retailer and have live models showing the latest fashions during your busiest hours.

  5. At the time of checkout, take a digital photo of the client's perfect style, load it into a database, then include it in a follow-up email to the client.

  6. Advertise your hours. Pepper's is open at 7:30 in the morning until 9:30 in the evening on some days. Use the advertising budget that you do have to run a television or radio spot at 7:30am to say that Pepper's, The Salon With Style, is open right now.

The Lesson:
The Customer Experience is so vital to a business' success for two reasons:

The first reason is that it creates customer loyalty. Shaun Smith, co-author of See, Feel, Think, Do: The Power of Instinct in Business, says that merely satisfied customers are not loyal customers. Customers who are satisfied at level four on a scale of five have only a 25% intent of loyalty, but customers satisfied at a level of 5 out of 5 have a 90% or greater intent of loyalty.

The second reason is that when you establish loyalty, the customer experience then serves as the launching pad for word of mouth marketing. Once you have earned their loyalty, they give you their advocacy. You must design the customer experience with magic spots to give your customers talking points when they give you referrals.

For more small business marketing lessons and advice, see our other blog: The Marketing Spot
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