Hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons officially closed on the 24th March in the UK, following the implementation of lockdown. Although some have been able to respond to the pandemic digitally, introducing e-commerce for the sale of products and even carrying out online consultations to prescribe at-home facial kits, there are some services this hasn’t been possible with and as individuals working within these businesses often build friendships with many of their customers, it’s fair to say it’s been a difficult period.
Thankfully the government has said that ‘personal care’ businesses will be able to reopen in phase 3 of the roadmap, which has been given a preliminary date of July 4th. Though this date is dependent on relevant data to ensure citizen safety, even once phase 3 is met businesses wishing to reopen will need to do so while adhering to various guidelines. For example, appropriate distancing and hygiene measures.
Given that the hair and beauty industry employs around 250,000 people in the UK, and also generated over £7.5 billion for the economy in 2017, it is essential these reopenings are successful. A large part of that success will depend on the effectiveness of communication, of informing individuals of opening dates and times, and detail any protocols that must be followed as part of the government guidelines. To help companies along, we have spoken to one of our partners, Premier software, who specialise in software solutions specifically for the hair and beauty industry and below we have highlighted just a few ways businesses can harness the power of SMS to enhance their back-to-business strategy:
Using SMS to come back-to-business with a bang
First and foremost, you need to let your customers know when you’ll be open for business again. Though social media and email can be great communication channels, with SMS your messages benefit from a 95% open rate and 90% of messages are read within 3 minutes. This message, above all others is vital to a successful reopen and given SMS far surpasses the reach and speed of alternative channels it makes sense to utilise it. Moreover, 160 characters can go further than you think, meaning you can include any exciting plans you may have for day 1 to help generate a buzz among customers.
Furthermore, it has been confirmed that hairdressers will be able to open from 15th June to operate a ‘click and collect’ retail set up. Salons will be able to sell items like shampoo and hair oils to customers so they are able to make their first steps towards reopening. Although not every business will be in a position to do this, for those that are, SMS can be used to inform potential customers of available products which may be of interest and any potential offers.
How SMS can help businesses adhere to safety guidelines
Here, SMS can be used in two main ways. First to educate customers on any procedures that they must follow, for instance if there are any restrictions around numbers allowed within the premises at one time. Second, to assure customers of the safety procedures you have put in place, for example increased levels of hygiene. Although many cannot wait for businesses to reopen, we must remember coronavirus has caused a lot of fear. Being able to reassure customers that your business is doing everything within its power to maintain customer and staff safety, could go a long way in maintaining customer retention.
Moreover for companies that do decide to open for ‘click and collect’ next week, you can notify customers of collection and payment instructions, to ensure you avoid multiple customers coming at once.
Communicating with your customers
As hair and beauty services are likely to be far more in demand than usual, especially during the first few months of reopening, utilising SMS can help you maintain contact with customers who may be struggling to get an appointment and help manage various admin tasks. Below are just a few additional use cases of how SMS may be able to help with your communication strategy:
Send bulk notifications
By utilising bulk SMS, you can communicate with your entire customer database in just a few clicks. This can be a great way to notify individuals as and when more appointments and / or treatments are made available. What’s more, as individuals pick up their phone on average 58 times a day, you can be confident your message will be received and read by all recipients.
Engage with your customers
Though hair and beauty businesses benefit from one-on-one time with customers, sometimes it’s worthwhile using a tool like an SMS survey, to get an overall picture of customer feedback. This can be really valuable if you are planning on reopening with a restricted number of services, or reduced hours, as you can use recipient feedback from an SMS survey, to help you make these decisions. Furthermore, as SMS boasts a 32% conversion rate compared to the email average of just 3.26%, you can ensure you receive the largest response possible to help you structure your back-to-business strategy.
Send time-critical reminders
Upon reopening, appointments will need to be carefully spaced and SMS can be used not only to remind individuals of their appointments, but also to communicate any last minute changes. For example, you may find your appointments are running overtime on a particular day, so you can use SMS to notify customers due in later on. This can be really beneficial – particularly early on, to avoid customers clustering in waiting areas. And since 90% of all SMS messages are read within 3 minutes, you can be sure your message is delivered and read almost immediately. For more examples of how you can use SMS within your salon, please see Premier Software’s video for more details.
To find out how TextAnywhere can help with your back-to-business strategy, please do not hesitate to contact one of our friendly team at [email protected] or call 0845 122 1302. Or to find out more about Premier Software and their solutions for the hair and beauty industry, email [email protected].