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Dec 20, 2016
by Vivant Skin Care
Policies. Procedures. Every company’s got them. They protect you in the case of a dispute. They let your clients know what to expect. But they can also send your customers all manner of unintended negative messages if you’re not careful about the words you choose.
For new customers getting ready to book a service, your policy page may be their first introduction to you. While you want to make all your policies crystal clear, you don’t want to appear inflexible or unwelcoming. It’s worth examining how firm a stance you want to take on specific policy issues and evaluate the language you’re using to communicate them.
If your policy page is full of phrases like “we are unable to...” or “we reserve the right to…” or “we ask that…” you could be sending the message that it’s all about you, when, in fact, you want your customers to feel the opposite. It’s all about them.
Sometimes it’s as simple as turning a phrase around.
Consider replacing “we ask” (a command) with “we recommend” (a strong suggestion).
Rather than spending a paragraph punitively explaining how a late arrival will affect other guests and disrupt your schedule, appeal to your customers’ needs. How will a late arrival affect them personally?
Try something like this instead, “In order to enjoy the full benefit of your service, we recommend you arrive 10 to 15 minutes early to allow time for any necessary preparation. We want you to feel relaxed, not rushed.”
If it takes you three long paragraphs to explain your cancellation policy and you spend half of that describing all the ways you and your staff will be inconvenienced and lose money because of a short-notice cancellation, you might be telling your customers that you feel your time is more valuable than theirs.
One salon website we visited required a first time customer to read and acknowledge a lengthy cancellation policy before even being allowed to book a service online. Most customers will simply move on to another salon that feels more welcoming.
Keep your policies simple, straightforward and free of judgment.
Just because you start a sentence with please, doesn’t mean what you’re saying is nice. For instance, the phrase “please be advised” rarely precedes something pleasant. Do say please, but don’t follow it with a demand or a contentious proclamation.
Use words like “accommodate,” “appreciate,” “thank you,” “we hope,” “we understand,” “help,” “look forward to.”
Avoid words and phrases like “regrettably,” “unfortunately,” “cannot,” “won’t,” “will result in,” “not responsible for.”
Beyond language, consider the policies themselves. Do you have too many rules and stipulations? Too many line items on your policy page may make a customer wonder why you need so many rules. Is it because you often have complaints? Does it mean you see your customers as an annoyance? Either way, it doesn't engender confidence and good will.
Not every potential conflict scenario needs to be spelled out with a specific policy in which you are the victor. Wouldn’t it be better for your customers to feel that should a concern arise, you are eager to hear it and provide a solution?
What you ultimately want is for your customer to feel valued. Rigid, nitpicky policies can make your customer feel like an opponent. You may save yourself the cost of a missed service or avoid giving a refund, but you may also lose the opportunity to create a long loyal relationship with a customer. Better to err on the side of the customer rather than the side of caution.
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