One of the areas our mystery shoppers pay attention to is checking whether or not the therapist or stylist employs ‘active listening’. We often find that whilst employees are concentrating on asking the right questions they often forget that it is just as important, if not more so, to listen to the client’s answers. Angela Bartlett, MD Hidden Beauty UK, Mystery Shopping for Spa, Beauty & Hair Sectors. 

Communication isn’t just about the talking

Being a good communicator is part of being a good stylist or therapist and being a good communicator is not about talking a lot! Listening skills can be developed and if we are listening actively it greatly enhances the communication process leading to a more satisfied client, which will hopefully lead to them rebooking in your salon or barbershop.

When we listen actively we are giving the client our full attention without making them feel uncomfortable. We are not partially listening to what they’re saying and partially listening to what our colleague is saying to another client. We are completely focused on the speaker when we are actively listening. We’re trying to fully understand what is being transmitted and paying attention to the client’s body language, tone of voice, pace and facial expressions as well as their words. We are looking for the sentiment and feeling behind the words so we are listening with more than just our ears - we are listening with all our senses.

Client Experience

Listening is the key to a good consultation

Good listening skills are particularly important during the consultation process. Gaining as much information about the client’s needs and expectations is important if we are to deliver an outstanding service to them.

Always ensure the client is comfortable and seated during the consultation process and encourage them to talk with the occasional nod and by smiling. Try not to tower over the client as this can be intimidating but sit down next to them whenever possible. The consultation should ideally take place in a quiet area, particularly if it’s for a beauty treatment where the client may want to discuss issues of a more private nature such as excess hair growth or skin concerns.

Delivering an exceptional service

A therapist or stylist with good listening skills will deliver a more appropriate treatment or service for the client because they will have taken on board what the client’s real needs are. Our mystery shoppers check to see if what they have said during the initial telephone conversation or consultation process is translated into a service that fulfils their requirements.

Careful listening ensures that the client’s needs are interpreted properly and will follow through to the recommendations made for homecare products and further treatment bookings too, as the therapist or stylist will be able to make better suggestions to help with client choice.
David Hockney once said, “Listening is a positive act: you have to put yourself out to do it” and of course he was right. It’s not easy to listen actively, it takes practice but it will reap rewards with loyal clients who feel they have been really heard by their therapist or stylist.


  • The NHF has produced a guide to delivering an outstanding 'client experience’ which is free for members to download from the NHF online shop or call the team on 01235 831965 for a copy.
  • Hidden Beauty UK are specialists in mystery shopping services for beauty and hair salons and as an Trade Member of the NHF, you can find out more about their service at Hidden Beauty UK.