As every business should know, customers are hard won and easily lost. So how is it that awful customer service is still so common?
Take my own experience last week at a hairdresser’s in Tunbridge Wells, to which I’ve been going for the best part of a decade. I arrived to see an empty salon apart from two staff sitting down, facing away from the front entrance and tapping on mobile phones. They didn’t look up as I entered, and only did so when I said hello. One of them, whom I hadn’t seen before, slowly got out of his chair and said in a bored voice, “What can I do for you?” The conversation then went like this:
Me: “Can I leave my bag here?” [It had my laptop in it, and I wanted it to be next to me where I could see it.]
Hairdresser: “It’ll get covered in hair if you leave it there.”
Me: “Oh, OK, well I’ll leave it here then.” [I had to put it behind me, out of my line of sight, and then sat down in the chair.]
Hairdresser: “How do you want it?”
Me: “I’d like a number eight, but I do like it kept long at the back, and then I’d like it thinned…”
Hairdresser: “I can’t keep it long at the back with a number eight.”
Me: “Really? I’ve had it done like that every other time I’ve been here. Can’t you do that?”
Hairdresser: “I can’t do it long at the back with a number eight.”
Me: “Well I’d like it kept long at the back, so could you do that please?”
Hairdresser: “I’ll do it, but if you want a number eight it’ll take about an inch off the back.”
Me: [getting out of the chair]: “Look, let’s leave it, I’ll come back another day.”
And that was it. In all, I’d been in there for less than a minute. Back home I told my wife, and she recommended I try another hairdresser she knew. I did so the following day, received excellent service (including a number eight, but long at the back, with my computer bag in front of me covered in a plastic sheet) and will carry on going there from now on.
Thirty seconds was how long it took a small business to lose a loyal customer. If I were the owner of that hairdresser, with staff like that, I’d be pulling my hair out.