Customer Service and the Customer Experience

Last week I went to get my hair cut. I made an appointment. I arrived for my appointment 5 minutes early. There was nobody to check me in, so I dutifully sat in the waiting chairs, and sat, and sat as my appointment time came and went. I watched as the stylist that I had an appointment with worked on another client. 17 minutes after my appointment should have started (not that I was counting…) he gave me a nod to come over and sit. I sat down and he asked what kind of cut I wanted. I told him and for the next 20 minutes he didn’t say a word to me. Oh, he chatted it up with the stylist in the next station, but not with me. After he finished, he held up a mirror, spun me around, still not saying anything, I said it was fine, and we were done. A women showed up to take my money. I paid and left. That was not an experience that I enjoyed and I will not return. What’s wrong with this picture…?

Well, to start with, whenever anyone walks into an establishment, they should be greeted at the earliest opportunity. People want to feel welcome and it doesn’t take much to set the tone. That’s why many businesses have receptionists. If you don’t have a designated receptionist and you are otherwise engaged, simply look their way, smile while making eye contact and say, “I (or someone) will be with you shortly. Please feel free to walk around (or have a seat,  or whatever else is appropriate).”

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If you are running late, acknowledge it with the person that is waiting and apologize for the inconvenience. A sincere apology goes a long way to making the schedule glitch okay. You should also let them know how long you will be. You need to adjust their expectations. When you are ready for them, apologize again and put forth a supreme effort to over deliver on their experience. (you should always be trying to do this anyway)

Engage with them! Get to know them. Ask questions, make eye contact, nod, smile, care about what they are saying and, of course, give them great service on whatever they are coming to you for.

Leave them with good feelings. As someone leaves your presence, make them feel good so they want to come back. “Great job today! I can’t wait to see you next time.” “Great having you here. I hope you come back again.” etc. This is their final impression and you want it to be a good one.

No matter what your service business is, from personal training to retail, the experience of the consumer will either build or kill your business. Mistakes will occasionally happen, but everyone understands that. It’s how you handle those situations that makes the difference. Always keep their experience in mind and plan for making it the best one possible.

What’s your biggest customer service pet peeve? I’d love to hear.

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