On Customer Care and Retention: A Few Musings with Polly Hancock
The other day I got to sit down and talk with my beloved hairdresser, Polly Hancock. Polly is a successful hair stylist and co-owner of the New Florence Salon in Emeryville, CA. She is also the co-owner of the popular Prizefighter Bar, also in Emeryville.
Polly Hancock is a great example of business success. She co-owns two thriving businesses. With her hair clientele, including yours truly, she no longer needs to advertise. Her client list is at capacity, and has been for years. So, I expected our conversation to be about her take on social media and advertising to build a business. But, as you will read, Polly wanted to emphasize customer retention, another key aspect of marketing work. For sure - it is one thing to get someone in the door, but another thing to keep a customer for 10-20 years and counting. Here are some takeaways from our conversation.
Polly noted that she has clients who have been with her for 20+ years now. “They have grown with me.” This is a beautiful sentiment about the shared journey together as client and business owner. The business is active and evolving: growing, maintaining, streamlining, and reprioritizing. The business and the relationships remain dynamic.
Polly strongly emphasizes a personal touch. “To me, it is about paying attention. It’s caring.”
You get to know people. You remember their personal interests, family, and work lives. It is about an ongoing dialogue, and ongoing business together.
Speaking about the bar she co-owns, the Prizefighter, Polly mentioned the community of employees. As one of three co-owners, they have strived to create a home with a professional vibe. Making a work environment that is good and fair to employees translates to people being a part of it. “That vibe and camaraderie translates to the customer experience.”
Polly then elaborates on the idea of the “customer experience.” What maintains a customer? What creates staying power? What makes a customer want to be “a part of it?”
“Customer experience goes farther than anything else.” She talks about the idea of the whole - the whole package and the whole experience which includes the environment, the conversations, the service, and the products.
And - always - the service. “I couch it in the service term.” Polly - at both of her businesses - is all about excellent service. It is what she admires in other businesses, and it is one of the values she holds so high. Most of all, she lets her artistry speak. As a devotee myself, I concur. She is ultra talented and consistent as a hair stylist. And, indeed, she is warm, funny, present, and engaged each time we are together. She remembers my life, and asks about it. I too keep coming back year after year for the great haircuts, the friendly vibe of the salon, and being in the company of a caring person.
So - to take a few cues from Polly Hancock, spend a few moments and reflect on these potent words and phrases:
Owners and customers growing together
A work environment that is good and fair to employees