Sunday, 29 June 2008

Parting of the Ways -

I’ve fallen out with the hair salon I’ve been frequenting for about two years. Paying loads of money for a haircut in a fashionable West End salon has always seemed, well, a bit silly. Maybe it’s a man thing. Nevertheless, I liked the way Veronique (not her real name) cut my hair and the salon’s atmosphere and price were fine.

When I phoned to make my last appointment, no mention was made of a price increase. There was no notification at reception, nor was I advised at any time that my haircut had gone up by 30%. Only when I went to pay did I realise that there had been a price hike. That’s when the snooty male receptionist announced the increase, as he matter-of-factly inserted my card into the machine. While the transaction was being processed I said, “Excuse me but that’s more than I usually pay.” He said, in a no-eye contact robotic fashion, “Our prices went up this month.” That was it.

I know the Manager of the salon; I caught his eye and suggested that if you are going to raise prices by 30%, it would be good to advise the customer in advance of them being gowned, or should that be gauged! He responded with some lame excuse and what I would describe as an almost-apology. You know the kind of thing, when someone tells you they are sorry if you are upset by what happened to you, not that they are sorry that they were the cause of the upset. So what’s the big deal, you might say? Here’s the big deal. I want to be treated as though I’m special. I want to feel as though my custom is considered important, something that’s valued.

In short, I want good old fashioned excellent customer service. When, as in this case, a luxury-priced service provider makes no attempt or effort to make a disgruntled customer feel better, they don’t deserve to keep the customer. It’s so simple, all the Manager had to do was offer me this haircut at the old price, or give me a couple of their own-brand hair products as a gesture of goodwill. Or, perhaps send me an e-mail saying sorry about the lack of communication regarding the price increase. I wanted it to be demonstrated that my custom was valued and that they wanted me to come back - I guess what I’m really saying is don’t just stand there… do something!

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