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Instant messaging is key to salons during lockdown

UK’s leading online business directory, Yell Business (business.yell.com) has released a new research into how small businesses have adapted to survive in light of Covid-19 and how the pandemic is changing the way businesses and consumers communicate. And how is this related to salons? Well, out of all sectors that were studied in the report, the Hair and Beauty industry was found to be the most adaptable, with 100% of H&B businesses surveyed introducing a new communication service, focused on instant messaging. Very good news indeed!

The new study reveals the scale of the challenge business owners have faced in recent months with three quarters (76%) of SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises) introducing a new messaging service due to Covid-19. H&B businesses were found 100% adaptable with:

  •       41% started doing online video consultations
  •       37% have started taking online bookings
  •       36% online video tutorials
  •       21% introduced contactless payment systems 
  •       18% started home deliveries/visits

Over half (54%) of H&B businesses who introduced a new service said it was crucial for them to be able to survive the pandemic, with 90% stating they plan on continuing the service post Covid-19.

Getting the message?

The research also identified how the global pandemic has accelerated changes in the ways’ businesses are communicating with their customers. 98% of H&B businesses have introduced new ways of communicating in 2020 with instant messaging platforms coming to the fore. Over a quarter (28%) have started using WhatsApp to communicate with customers and 23% have started texting. 18% of businesses have started using Facebook for the first time followed closely by Instagram at 17%.

While a phone call is still the most popular communication method for H&B businesses and their customers alike, the most effective marketing communication tool used by H&B businesses during the pandemic was found to be Facebook Messenger. When asked whether the tool had been either ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ effective since March’s national lockdown, 67% of businesses stated that it had. Direct mail (66%), a Facebook page (64%), SMS texting (64%), WhatsApp (63%) and Instagram direct messaging (58%) followed.

Instant messaging

The emergence of instant messaging tools such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and other social messaging platforms as vital communication tools for H&B businesses was identified in the research. Nearly a third (32%) of businesses surveyed said that instant messaging is key for business success post Covid-19, whilst 33% stated they had seen an uplift in enquiries thanks to using instant messaging services during the pandemic. 33% said that they had seen an uplift in repeat business and 30% saw an increase in sales. 

Choosing the correct channel to communicate with customers was found to have far reaching benefits for H&B businesses too. Yell’s research revealed that over a third (36%) of consumers would be more likely to buy from a business that communicated with them on their preferred channel. 28% of consumers would be more likely to recommend the business to a friend and 24% would be more likely to spend more with that business. Conversely, if an SME communicated with a customer on the wrong channel, 37% of consumers wouldn’t use that business again and 18% would even leave a bad review for the business.  

Some good news

Despite the challenges brought on by Covid-19, H&B businesses remain positive for the future. 74% of business owners state that they are optimistic about the success of their business in 2021 and, on average, 79% said they were more prepared to deal with another lockdown.

Claire Miles, Chief Executive Officer of Yell commented: ”The last six months have been incredibly tough for the hair and beauty industry but it’s heartening to see that the majority of the sector remains optimistic in the face of adversity. Our research highlights not only the sheer adaptability of businesses but also their ability to find the right way to communicate change to their existing and potential customers. It’s clear that during these uncertain times, instant messaging services have been a real lifeline to hair and beauty businesses who have had to adapt and adjust their models quickly.”

Now, more than ever, communication with clients is key, so if your Messenger hasn’t been very active so far, probably it’s time you change this…

For more of the latest industry news, click HERE.

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