What are your must-haves when it comes to customer service in beauty?

I really like to see the brand/retailer give some power to their customer service representatives so that they can solve customer issues quickly and efficiently without having to escalate to the “let me talk to a manager!” level. It’s also important to be able to ask questions and get real answers quickly, like they should know if something is permanent or limited edition!

— Christine


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Phoebe Avatar

It’s great when the makeup artists/ sales assistants know everything about the products and releases and when they take the time to be friendly and learn your beauty needs. Also, I think it’s important to be able to remember customers and be able to offer products they might like knowing what they usually buy and their personal style/taste. This has happened many times for me like one makeup girl saved a ltd edition highlighter behind the counter for me even before I knew about its release and shows that they pay attention (or maybe I just go in store waaayyy too often). I also like when they make you feel special, I was at my work xmas party and had forgotten my sparkly lip topper so I went to Selfridges to the same makeup counter and the girl helped me get another one free (I only had to buy the cheapest item, a lip liner), like that is great customer service and shows that they care about the customer and can build a better relationship with them.

Marie Avatar

I prefer to do a lot of research online first, so I don’t walk into a store with a lot of questions about products.

But I like customer service to be available if I need help finding a shade match or checking back stock.

But don’t be too pushy. I was once at an Ulta store where the employee was very intrusive as if she thought I was going to shoplift.

Store policies should allow for returns even if the product is opened and used. I hardly ever return things but I like the freedom of not worrying about it if the product is not working out.

And the best service people offer to try the product on you and offer generous samples and testers.

In fact, I am more likely to purchase more. For example, I needed help finding a shade of foundation to match. A makeup artist helped me find the right shade, and she applied over almost my whole cheek. So then I looked a little pale. She used a little powder blush / bronzer. I bought the foundation… thought about the blush / bronzer and ended up going back to buy that color a day later.

V Avatar

In backwards land, when I worked at various counters, I had 2 managers that used to reprimand me for doing exactly what you described and for doing any more than slamming some eyeshadow on 1 eye which is rude in my opinion. If we weren’t crazy busy I couldn’t see how sending any customers off with screwed up makeup could be considered customer service. Many people do their makeup shopping in store so only matching a tiny patch of foundation to their skin (where they can barely see it) and hoping they’ll be satisfied enough to make a purchase seems lazy to me. Most customers were unable to tell if they wanted what they couldn’t even see.

Nancy T Avatar

R. E. S. P. E. C. T.!
Respectful, responsive, and helpful at the first try. I do not want or need the hassle of multiple tries at fixing something and then them offloading me to someone else, or worse…. Taking their frustration over not being able to fix/solve/address the problem out on me! Because then they’ve poked the bear. A very sarcastic and angry bear, if provoked!
I’d much rather it never go to defcon 10 in the first place, tbh. Therefore, treating customers in a respectful, dignified manner and being trained to be a proficient troubleshooter are qualities that give me a better sense of confidence in a company’s C.S.

amy Avatar

I echo the other commenters, but do most of my shopping online. I found that Ulta and Macy’s and Nordstrom’s were terrible in person, but great CS over the phone. Ulta was in my face and didn’t seem to understand that I wanted to browse. It made me leave early because they were so pushy.

Macy’s had a hissy fit when I returned a foundation that had a GWP. I wasn’t trying to get cash or even credit, just another shade, but they said they couldn’t do that without returning the GWP (it had been a month or so). I looked at the shades they had but the ones that would have suited me were out of stock. So instead of helping me find another (or another brand even), they were snotty about the GWP (several associates complaining in front of me), as if I have time to buy a product and keep a GWP a month then try and return.

Nordstrom’s salespeople just ignored me, as if I didn’t appear their best customer type. I thought I imagined it but another woman complained to me about it, saying they were assuming she wasn’t going to buy when she intended to treat herself to an entire new skincare wardrobe.

However, online is much better for N and U. Macy’s is still a pain, which is why I don’t bother anymore, even online.

I’ve found that BeautyHabit and Bath & Unwind and CosBar to be really great.

Rachel R. Avatar

Number 1: Courtesy and respect. Also: Basic knowledge about stock, or even what an item is. Online: Replying to emails. I shouldn’t have to post on your FB page or tweet to get some help. Not requiring that cheap items be sent back: A picture should suffice. Providing free shipping if the item arrives broken or is the wrong item, as that is not my fault. I agree completely that staff in person and onliine need some power to take care of things without constantly escalating to a supervisor or manager.

Deborah S. Avatar

1. Respect for the customer and recognizing when I say I am just browsing, that I am just browsing. SA’s who make me feel like they think I am going to steal something will make me leave.
2. If I am a frequent customer, learn my name and my preferences. Let me know when something is coming that I might be interested in.
3. Know your inventory and whether or not you are expecting to get a particular line. I can’t tell you the number of times that I have asked if they are going to be getting the new ****** and they haven’t a clue.
4. Issues specific to Ulta include not offering the discount unless you ask for it. Not even the measly $3.50 off coupon that they have everyday. Not having the gift with purchase or if they do, they don’t offer it or get it when you purchased the product unless you ask for it. I cannot tell you the number of times I have purchased a product and then when I got home or to my motel, I have received a coupon for discount on that very product.
5. Know how products work. If the customer asks then offer to apply. If the customer tells you they have tried something and they don’t want to try it again then respect that. I had an SA at Sephora try to force me to put on a skincare product when I told her that I couldn’t use it and that it had caused a reaction before. I ticked her off so she left and wouldn’t help me after that. Now when I visit that particular Sephora, I will go to any other associate rather than deal with her.
In Sephora’s favor, I was asking an SA about a Farsali product and she hadn’t heard of the product. It was new so I wasn’t faulting her about that. I went about my business and shortly thereafter a young male SA came carrying the product. He had overheard our conversation and went downstairs to their stock room where incoming products were kept and he got one for me. He told me that he had seen boxes marked Farsali and wanted to make sure that was what was in the box before telling me. Above and beyond the call of duty.
Most importantly, I would like to see the contact point with the customer have the ability to make decisions and problem solve without having to find a “supervisor” to make the decision.

Stacy Avatar

Honestly I just wish they were more educated in regards to products and their ingredients, especially skincare. My biggest pet peeve is when I ask for a suggestion for something, let’s say a brightening eye cream, and the person just says “well a lot of people seem to be buying this one.” But is it going to fulfill my needs? Would it work with my skin type? And I get this answer ALL THE TIME

Agona Avatar

CS needs to make a customer feel like they are respected and their business is important. Not blame the customer and refuse to resolve issues.

I had to stop buying from Kiko Milano last year because my single shadows kept arriving broken. CS refused to refund/resolve the issue saying that too many shadows were arriving broken–which isn’t exactly something I have control over. I get they were trying to blame the Post Office…but I also order shadows from South Korea that are shipped internationally and never arrive broken, never mind the countless orders from Sephora and Ulta. Shrug. Too much makeup elsewhere that I can spend my money on so their loss. I especially don’t buy that it’s my carrier if my international orders show up in perfect condition, since that has to take the extra step of being handled by Customs.

Jane Avatar

Clean spaces and ability to touch the product. Have products in stock and have place to remove makeup. And then they can leave me be. 😉 I enjoy talking a tad bit with the reps, but truly I come to touch, drool and purchase and rarely want advice.

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