Thursday, November 4, 2010

Who says customer service is dead?

Many who know me have commented on my impeccable sense of style, particularly my fashionable haircuts (insert sarcastic tone here). Now I know you are asking yourself, where does someone like that go to get his beautiful locks cut? Well, believe it or not, I typically go to whatever local discount chop shop that has the shortest line. For my basic needs, which includes getting out the clippers and going to town, I don’t need a beauty shop or a stylist, a simple barber will do.

So, on a recent trip to visit family in Mississippi (you didn't think I'd criticize a local business did you?), I went to visit just such a haircut establishment. I went to the desk, gave my name and was assigned to Betty's chair for my haircut. Betty was a middle aged woman who immediately explained to me why she was late to work that day. She took full responsibility by explaining that she had locked herself out of her house and had to climb in a window. I'm still unclear why that made her late for work, but when someone has scissors near your scalp, you don't ask a lot of questions.

She immediately began formulating a number of explanations (lies) she would give her supervisor that night to avoid getting in trouble. After coming up with a number of scenarios (one of which included running down an elderly woman in the Wal-Mart parking lot), she settled on a story where she hit a deer on a back road near her home (how she would explain the lack of damage to her vehicle was a detail she clearly had not considered). Once she had settled on that . . . fabrication, she asked me my opinion.

Now normally my advice to anyone in a similar situation would be to take responsibility as truth is the best policy, however, at this point she was trimming my sideburns and the fear of having a mohawk overruled my interest in giving good advice and I confirmed that the dead deer scenario really seemed like a great plan (I assume she is no longer employed there).

Now I've got to tell you, cutting my hair is easy, normally it takes between 4 and 10 minutes. Unfortunately, on this occasion, my haircut along with the development of a cover story for being late, took significantly longer. In fact, at the 30 minute mark, we were only about half way through.

However, I remained optimistic, we had settled on a story and she seemed to feel confident she would be excused, so I thought we'd zip through the last few minutes. Unfortunately, that was simply not the case. My haircut experience was quickly sliding into what any law enforcement professional would classify as a hostage situation. I mean seriously, I was in a chair with a tarp tightly wrapped around my neck and sharp blades circling my head and neck, I was ready to call SWAT.

Fortunately, after another 20 minutes in the chair (my legs had gone numb at this point), we had mutually agreed that she should not marry her boyfriend as he was clearly not putting her needs before his own, and she released me. After refusing an offer to wash my hair (how long would that have taken?), I quickly walked to the counter and paid for my . . . experience. I left my customary tip and she thanked me and closed by saying, "Hey, next time you need a haircut, call first to make sure I'm here. This was very helpful." How was I supposed to respond, “Glad I could help?” Despite all of that and as much as I hate to say it, it was a great haircut. So, who says customer service is dead?

When I returned home, my wife asked what had happened to me and why I was gone so long.  I simply said, "I hit a deer on a back road . . . or was it an elderly woman . . . I can't remember."

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