Based in Washington, Ross is a general manager of a food safety company. His musings explore life, work and every moment in between.

Customer service matters.

I’ve been on vacation this week. Laura, Sloan and I took off Wednesday afternoon and won’t be home until tonight. I needed this break. Just a few days to get away, to find a different perspective, to see some family, and to get my hair cut.

Wait, did you say haircut?

My hairstyle has been the same for 25 years. Since abandoning the bull cut in 5th grade I have had (within reason) the same hair style. Yesterday, I went to Floyd’s 99 Barbershop in Longmont, Colorado to get my hair trimmed. I was paired up with April the stylist who asked me good questions about my hair. She proceeded to exceed my expectations in how my hair looked when I left. And yet I will never go back.

April was dismissive of what I thought. She told me that she was great at cutting hair and that this was going to be my best haircut. She told me that she was too good to work for Floyd’s – that she was planning on starting her own mobile hair service called “the hair whisperer” and that I should give her my contact info so that I would not have to go back to Floyd’s. She told me how bad it was to work for Floyd’s and then asked me to buy car insurance from her boyfriend who worked for All-State. She explained drama with her roommate, family drama, and personal drama. I was uncomfortable. Not because of what she told me (it was benign), but because I wasn’t there to be her life coach. I was the customer.

When she asked me if I wanted the extras (shampoo, neck shave, shoulder massage) I declined. All I could think about was getting out of there.

I’ll never go back. Despite the fact that she was competent at her craft, her negative and “me first” approach to customer service was so disappointing that all I wanted to do was leave.

I have probably been like April – unaware to my emotional wake. I have probably left a bad taste in a client’s mouth. And yet I would not tolerate that behavior of me or anyone else. Customer service matters. It’s as much the job of mine as it is April’s at Floyd’s. And it is a job worth taking seriously. If we do not, our clients will not return.

Nappuccino.

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