When it comes to your salon, the real heroes are your staff. They work tirelessly to represent your brand and build lasting relationships with your clients, mostly through in-person interactions. This need for human connection will never go away, and those relationships are crucial to the success of your salon.
But, as technology evolves, the ways to optimize your staff’s time do, too. I’m talking about “bots” powered by Artificial Intelligence. Before you think, Terminator, allow me to explain: Artificial Intelligence (or AI for short) is the fancy term we use to describe smart, interactive online tools that can recognize and answer simple-to-fairly complex questions. To break it down even more simply, it’s computers working with humans—sometimes spooky in the movies, but very convenient in real life for your business.
If you want to learn more about why you should consider AI for your salon, check out this article. An AI-powered bot (or virtual assistant) can help you “answer” missed calls by texting the caller, as well as set appointments and answer questions. Once you’ve decided to implement this type of AI assistant into your business, it’s important to get your staff excited about it, too. After all, this bot is there to help them, so they should be educated—and dare I say excited—about your new hire.
Here are some tips for getting your staff on board with the bots:
Empower them from the beginning
Employees like to feel informed and included from the beginning—this helps new processes and initiatives feel more like a collaborative effort than a mandate. Explain to your staff why you’ve made this decision and outline the ways it will affect and, more importantly, help them. Give them enough notice to know it’s coming, as well as the chance to address any concerns they may have. Getting their support from the start is crucial to the success of the program and your working relationship.
Emphasize the win-win
There’s no doubt an AI receptionist taking over your front desk will save time, but even the most rational of humans would be a little concerned that they’re being replaced or no longer needed. First, acknowledge your staff’s feelings and listen to their concerns. Then, explain that this will actually save them time and grow their career.
Here’s a little story scenario to help visualize it…
It’s a busy day at your salon. All your stylists are booked, and your front desk is buzzing. A new client has just finished up, looks fabulous, and makes their way to the front desk to pay. Your front desk person—let’s call her Sarah—asks her how everything was and starts the checkout process. The client inquires about some of the retail items you offer to care for her new ‘do, so Sarah starts explaining them. Then, all of a sudden…riiiing, riiiing, riiing. Your phone is ringing. Sarah is torn. She wants to continue this conversation to help this new client (especially since it’s her first time in). Riiiiing, riiing, riiiiiing. She rushes through explaining the products and excuses herself to get the phone. While deciding what to do, Sarah might have missed the call of a new client and lost the sale of high-margin products.
With an AI front desk assistant, this story could have ended differently. Instead of choosing between the client and the phone, Sarah can give her full attention to assisting the client while knowing that the phone is being answered and clients are still being served through the system.
The bottom line: automating your front desk tasks frees up your staff so they can focus on your clients and their experience. It takes something off their plate, so they can give their full attention to bigger matters. Everybody wins—especially you as 85% of missed call customers never try again. This is an easy way to capture that potentially lost revenue while maintaining your standard for customer service.
Redefine their role
In addition to saving time on their tasks, this is a great opportunity for you to create a little career development for your staff. When you implement your AI assistant, consider redefining what your front desk staff duties entail. Instead of focusing on the tiny tasks, position it as “promoting” them to higher level responsibility and opportunity for growth. Emphasize a focus on their customer service skills, and make their position more about being a face for your brand and building deeper relationships.
And it’s important to mention that AI isn’t perfect or without the need for human oversight. A new part of your front desk’s role can be to oversee the bot and run quality control on its responses. AI takes a huge lift off your front desk, but can’t provide all the nuanced answers a human could. Empower and train your staff to step in where needed, handle any issues that may arise, and help the bot improve with questions specific to your business. (Think of it as a mini-robot intern, who wouldn’t love that?!)
Highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability. This is huge. By giving your staff more stimulating responsibility, they’ll feel more engaged and motivated to excel in their position. Which translates to more revenue and happier customers for you. Plus, employee engagement reduces turnover, so you can invest more of your time into training a staff that’s happy and likely to stick around longer.
Ask for their feedback
After you have everything up and running, keep an open line of communication with your staff about how things are working. They’re on the front lines and see more than you do in using the system—so make sure you have consistent check-ins to gather feedback and solutions. Set up recurring meetings and encourage them to document and submit any thoughts or areas for improvement.
Adding new members on your team can be intimidating, and an AI version requires unique adjustments. To make the transition enjoyable for everyone at your salon, keep strong communication with your team and find new ways to educate and empower them. In the end, remember that everyone on your team wants to create the best experience for your clients…even the bots.
Want to learn more about how an AI receptionist can streamline your front desk operations? Get a demo.
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