2 March 2024

Etiquette for today’s salons

Does etiquette have a place in today’s salon? It may play a more important role than you thought, with just a few updates!

Elisa Motterle has been defined by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera as “the face of third millennium etiquette”. Indeed, she is the only Italian Etiquette Trainer certified by the International Protocol and Etiquette Academy of London. Estetica’s Erika Marchese interviewed this Amy Vanderbilt for today’s salons for and etiquette update.

Her mission is to bring etiquette into a new age and demonstrate to individuals and businesses that good manners are not just a set of old-fashion rules that are useful only to British royalty. Instead, etiquette is a powerful tool that can improve your own standing and add value to both social and professional relations.

Elisa offers her clients a set of unique skills. These include in-depth understanding of the dynamics of Luxury, of relational marketing, and of the client experience. She personally gained this insights during her extensive career working in some of the most important Luxury Goods in the world.

What exactly do you mean when you talk about “modern etiquette”?

There are many preconceptions about modern Etiquette: often when I talk about what I do, people seem confused or frightened. They sit up straight in their chairs – and they just don’t understand how the correct placement of flatware on the table can truly influence a person’s life and job.

Of course, placing flatware correctly on the table is part of etiquette, as is good posture. But the true difference that Etiquette makes in the life of someone who chooses it – and the true modernity of Etiquette – is the focus on details, which translates as attention being paid to the people around us.

Modern Etiquette is therefore a complete set of skills – even from different worlds! From knowing table manners, to presentations, social and cross-cultural events – that enable us to present the best version of ourselves, getting others to feel comfortable,, knowing how to deal confidently with any situation that may arise, even unexpectedly.

Which are the 3 best modern etiquette rules to follow in the salon when dealing with clients?

In a salon, like in a boutique, 3 suggestions that I would make to take better care of your clients are:

1) Pay total attention to your client

Eye contact, a warm greeting, a welcoming smile and a polite phrase like, “Hello, how are you? Let me know if I can help you.” I realize perfectly well that these are actions that people take for granted, but there are numerous businesses where this small gestures never occur.

2) Always begin with a more polite or formal register

A more polite register can sometimes be perceived as being too formal, or as something used only for people of a certain age. Instead it can have a pampering effect on all your clients, even younger ones! As I always say, true luxury cannot be bought, but lies in the human element of the salon experience.    

Note: let the client to be the one to initiate a more familiar register if and when he or she decides.

3) Know how to listen

Although sometimes a professional already knows the best way to follow up with a client. One must never be too imposing and ignore the client’s desires. Etiquette means, listening carefully. Even confusing requests can provide us with the tools we need to then respond to them more effectively. Then we can make a proposal based on our expertise. In this way the client feels as though he is truly taken in to consideration and is important. It is absolutely necessary to remember that in that moment the client is the protagonist. If he or she feels like chatting, fine. Go along with him or her, making pleasant small talk, but without being invasive! Knowing how to converse is a very important skill in the customer experience, above all in a place with many lulls, like a salon.

What are the 3 errors to avoid in order to make the client feel comfortable and welcome, as well as to gain his or her loyalty?

One very serious mistake

In the salon and in daily life, is negative language. Etiquette is never negative! Focusing on the client’s “defects” (even if with good intentions), criticizing someone else’s work (“but who bleached your hair?”) or even worse, criticizing other clients. These are all behaviors that never make a good impression and can drive people away from your salon.

If the best practices are applied, especially during the treatment, mistakes that may be made after should also be mentioned:

If a client complains about something post-service

No matter what it involves, the best thing to do is to never belittle or minimize. Saying something like, “But no, it’s only an impression, you look great” is not the right answer. Instead, own up to the error and make amends. Despite the wrong color, the client will feel validated, listened to, and pampered.

When booking the next appointment, never insist

The risk is that the client will make a run for it and never come back. Asking is fine, and if the client is already certain, he or she will book the usual spot without hesitation. But etiquette means leaving the client – especially a new one – plenty of space. This way he or she can evaluate his or her experience without any rush. No pressure always gives the best results.


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