Why The “Salon Experience” No Longer Starts In The Salon

And Why You Should Care About The “Consumer Journey” Of Your Clients Before You Even Meet Them

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One of the perks of having built a community like Hairstylist Tribe is every time I need to “renovate” my hair whether it’s an A-line bob (I love bows) or a color correction, I get to pick and choose from a community of thousands of hair professionals.

I start what is called the “consumer journey” long in advance of me even making an appointment to speak to someone about my hair.

What I usually do is check what city I’m going to be in, and I find all the hairstylists I can within our Tribe that look like they could do what I want.

I find hairstylists who often post (on Instagram) but who also specialize in what I’m looking for.

I search for hairstylists who communicate to me through photos and videos what they care about the most when it comes to hair.

What I noticed about my experience leading up to having my hair done recently by a hairstylist whom I haven’t met before was that I was able to trust her MONTHS in advance of meeting her.

Which leads me to the theme of this article: TRUST
In fact, you might already know this but, most clients have trust issues — even if they don’t seem like they do.

Before the internet, there was no real way to build up trust with a beauty professional.

You could get referrals or see photos in flyers, but all the action was in the salon.

That was the original “consumer journey” — all offline and that’s all there was.

Things have changed (thankfully).

The consumer experience also known as the user journey starts “online” first before it goes “offline” to the salon.

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Potential customers no longer start their consumer experience the moment they walk into your place of business; they begin their customer journey before you are even aware of their existence as they’re looking at your social media account.

They start creeping your social media platforms and sizing you up long before they enter YOUR experience — you start being part of theirs in other words.

You can now “patch” together with the different steps that happen in the client’s mind from “I had an idea to get my hair done” to “I just got my hair done” but to keep it simple.

I’ve identified Four Steps in the online part of the consumer journey I believe every beauty professional should be aware of:

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The Trigger — There’s the idea the client has which is to get their hair done. 
A flag goes up.

Exploration & Research — Usually right after that moment, they start searching and sorting through all the hairstylist resumes known as social media profiles.

3. Decision Making — The next measurable moment is when they decide on which hair professional will do their hair — it could have been something specific with the stylist’s online portfolio that made that client tick.

4. Action Taking (Reservation or Appointment-making) — The fourth measurable moment in the consumer journey we can identify as hairstylists is the first moment of contact — the client decided to message you online or text you or call.

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Take my personal journey to get my hair done recently as the example again.

It was late November, and I knew I wanted to color my hair purple in March but for my hair to still be healthy after that hair service I had to feel comfortable with the work of whoever was going to do my hair.

I had an ideal time frame on which city I was going to be in by March.

In this case, I needed a color specialist who did kick ass purples and cared about hair health in the Vancouver area (Canada).

After navigating Hairstylist Tribe and going through my search aka creeping process, by early December, I zeroed in on and decided to direct message @hairbymonika.q

That same day I decided I trusted her enough at this point to set up an appointment.

Given her super professional Instagram profile and her involvement as a teacher in our industry my anxiety levels lowered and my trust level increased instantly when I crept her profile.

You see this is all part of the consumer journey — these things happen before the client even sits in your chair and you have to be aware of these factors.

Something changed when the Internet “happened.”

Be mindful of the fact that the consumer journey starts the moment that client looks in the mirror in the privacy in their home and says to themselves, “I need to get my hair done, I’m going to look at Instagram for 3 hours until I find someone I trust”.

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We also have to understand as an industry that there is a type of rational conversation the client has with themselves as they are creeping social media hair accounts.

Consumers start their relationship with you, the hair professional, the moment they lay eyes on your Instagram account.

Even a walk-in who decided that same morning she was going to do something about her hair that day checks and creeps MULTIPLE hair accounts before walking in without an appointment.

Whether a client books with you three months or 3 days in advance or you get a cold walk — in, you damn better know that they creeped you out all over the internet.

In other words, those local hashtags we all take for granted so much made it easier for potential local clients to trust most beauty professionals and us don’t realize it.

I always say “no client hangs out in the Google search bar — they spend time on Instagram and Facebook.”

If you think reviews of your services are important, imagine how dark clients go to look at the details of your professional life — even your personal life.

You must be willing to put yourself in the mindset of a customer and understand how THEY behave online before they reach out to you.

Too many beauty professionals are concerned about how they’re going to act around their customers while in the salon, but what they should focus on is creating a good first impression before they even meet their clients.

As I mentioned above, there used to be only one type of customer experience — “offline” customer experiences where the client had no idea what the hairstylist was capable of before the appointment.

However, in 2017 as I write this, there is a new layer that has been added to the customer journey which is an “online” component.

Social media not only allows the client to start the consumer journey in the privacy of their phone, but it also gives YOU the ability to know that and helps you prepare, so you position your online portfolio in a way where the client knows what to expect before they even call for an appointment.

(Powerful stuff ^^ re-read the above paragraph)

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My consumer journey was having Monika do my hair was a pleasure the whole time I was in her chair because my interaction with her online portfolio before even speaking to her allowed me to build my trust levels enough to reach out for an appointment.

I hadn’t met this person yet, but because of the way she’s been positioning her profile it allowed me to trust her more then hairstylists I’ve known in person for years.

Pre-appointment trust matters a whole lot then we have all been led to think — it sure matters to me as the client.

So feel like a customer first.


P.S. Another way you can look at the “consumer journey” in today’s fast-paced world is the total of experiences and moments that a client has with a service provider both online and offline from the “I need my hair done” idea to the “I got my hair done”

It just so happens to be that the journey starts long before you, the beauty professional, know your clients.

P.P.S Beauty schools, the industry and salon experience has taught us all a lot of the offline experience, but the world changed.

Social media came to life, and new layers of client interaction and consumer behaviour have arised because of technology.

It’s best if you are aware of them and educate yourself so you can future-proof your business.