For Debbie Devine, owner of beauty salon Urban Day Spa, digital technologies have become an increasingly important part of day-to-day operations. In this blog post, Debbie talks about the difference technology has made to her business and gives advice on how SMEs can embrace technologies.
Get close to your customers
We’re always looking for ways to get closer to our customers and build loyalty. We started using Phorest eight years ago as booking system, but it’s become much more than that. There are many options in the system that allow us to build up direct relationships with our customers. We’ve been able to add on a loyalty scheme where customers can build up treat points to get a free treatment. We also use the system to encourage reviews via email or text and we can choose to publish those reviews on Facebook or Twitter. This has become a huge part of our customer engagement strategy and it’s a great way for people to hear real-life feedback from our customers.
Top tip: stay close to your customers, engage with them and reward loyalty.
Know your customers
We want to build a community with us and our customers. We couldn’t do that without knowing who they are and what they want. We use all the data and insights available to us, it could be Facebook Insights or Google Analytics, to get to know our customers and find out what they like and want. We track our analytics all the time: bookings, web visits, social media engagement, downloads, reviews, feedback, newsletter opens. All of this information then guides how we interact with the customer. In our first few years of business we were stabbing in the dark; we’d take out a newspaper ad but we had no real way of knowing who saw the ad. Now all of that information is available to us and it’s invaluable.
Top tip: Constantly track your data. It will give you all the information you need to make changes and keep your customers happy.
Communicate regularly with customers
We think it’s so important to keep our customers up to date with what’s happening in the salon. We send out a bi-monthly email newsletter with special offers, new products and vouchers. We also publish that newsletter using a bit.ly link on Twitter and Facebook and we send it via text message. We want to make sure that everyone can access the newsletter via a channel or device that suits them; that way we’re more confident they will read it. We see an upswing whenever we send out our newsletter so we know it’s a great driver of business. We also post regularly on Twitter and Facebook and we’re always trying to be creative with our content. We don’t want to just post about special offers, we try to offer useful and interesting information, as well as some competitions.
Top tip: keep the channels of communication open with your customers and keep them informed about what’s going on, whether it’s new products or services, special offers, or any news about your business.
Embrace new technologies
We use a lot of technologies but we know that things are always changing. It’s important that we are where our customers are so we’ll probably be looking at Snapchat next year. We’ll use it to connect with our younger client base. Video is something else we’re looking at doing; beauty vloggers are so popular right now so that’s definitely something we could do. We know we can’t stand still so we’re always on the lookout for new systems and technologies; we recently started using a system called Re Connect that can tell us which customers we haven’t seen in a while. We can then target those customers with an email with special offers, or if we like, a gift voucher, to try to get them back to the salon.
Top tip: be open to new technologies. Look at what’s out there and see how (or if) you can use it to improve your business in any way.
Be aware of costs
We don’t just invest in new technologies for the sake of it. It has be worth it and we have to see a return on our investment. As a small business we’re always focused on trying to keep the costs down. For example, we wanted to add functionality on our website where our customers could buy a gift voucher. We researched a couple of options, most of which were too expensive. We then found an Irish company called Voucher Connect who did exactly what we wanted for a relatively small investment. This feature is so popular on our website, and we saw a return in a very short space of time.
Top tip: research your options. Know what you want and what you’re prepared to invest and keep that in the back of your mind.