Do customer service skills really matter?

I have recently been thinking about customer service skills. I know it’s not exactly up there with questions about life, the universe and the value of the Euro. But it was a recent experience that got me pondering down this train of thought.  Indulge me for a minute so I can explain.

On the hunt

I recently moved and have been on the hunt for a new hairdresser for some time. As someone who has their hair done frequently, I wanted to find a reliable hairdresser with just the right combination of technical colouring and cutting skills and with an engaging personality that helps to make the seemingly endless hours at the hairdresser move along swiftly, with, at the same time, the reassuring knowledge of a consistent outcome each time. However, I am not asking for incessant chatter either, it’s a fine line and a good hairdresser knows this delicate dance. Most important is for them to do a good job, and for me to walk away feeling good about myself and happy in the knowledge that my choice of hair salon was a good one.

Slow start

We got off to a slow start, and half way through my appointment, and after several failed attempts to start a conversation, I settled into reading a magazine and enjoying the quiet time I had to myself while embracing the ritual of having one’s hair done. But once my hair was done, my heart sank.  I knew I had a problem. My roots were a blazing orange. Being brunette and having asked for a full colour, it should have been a relatively straight forward task. I felt that I could have achieved better result with a bottle of Nice N’ Easy at home.  So I cautiously broached the subject of the unwanted orange roots, only to be met with complete denial and utter disagreement. Our ideas of what constituted the colour orange differed as dramatically as my roots did from the rest of my hair.

The bitter end

Long story short, after several consultations and much resistance, they reluctantly offered to redo the roots. By this stage I was 3 hours in and could not face sacrificing another hour, with the very real risk that I could quite possibly leave the salon in a worse condition than I was currently in. I politely declined, paid my bill, and made a solemn vow to commute to my previous trusted hairdressing salon, even though it is completely inconvenient both travel- and time-wise to do so.

Building foundations

In the meantime, to console myself, I took my blazing roots to the nearest beauty counter to stock up on some foundation. The lady behind the counter offered to help, and once I requested my foundation number she set about retrieving it from the shelf, only to discover that they were currently out of stock. Just as I thought this day could not get any worse, she offered me a sample of my foundation and a few other little samples to go with it. She smartly asked if I would like her to hold back a bottle when the new stock arrived and inquired whether she could take my phone number so that she could call as soon as it did. The expected delivery, I was informed, would very likely be the next day. She was friendly, upbeat and so swift with her solutions that I hardly had time to realise that not having a product in stock was an inconvenience. I was happy to acquiesce. Despite the inconvenience, what I ultimately experienced were the refined customer service skills and service delivery that made me feel valued as a client.

The good, the bad and the ugly

The two experiences could not have been more contrasting.  Had the excellent customer service experience happened without the bad one having preceded it, it may very well have gone largely unnoticed.  A customer-centric approach is expected of businesses in 2019, yet what does this mean to the consumer in real terms? For me, it meant being heard and having the person I was speaking to being empowered and willing to make the decision to find a resolution.As savvy consumers, not only are we able to source other options on the spot, but we can leave an online review to tell fellow customers just what we thought of the experience. The difference between a good and a bad review, I realised, is largely down the customer service skills of the staff who you engage with and how they make you feel.

Customer Service is at the heart of what we deliver for our clients in FMI. Exceeding expectations, expectations which are norm in our day to day dealings. For further information contact Gavin Spencer to discuss your requirements, 01 496 3399.