Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Hey You... Listen to Your Customers!

I don't have much hair. I know you don't care about that and neither do I, really. I lost much of my hair when I was in my twenties, so I have had a long time to get used to it.

Given that I don't have much hair, you might think that getting a haircut would be quick, uncomplicated and never a source of frustration. You would be wrong.

I can afford any barber or stylist out there, including the guy who cuts John Kerry's pompadour. True, It would be insane of me to patronize someone who charges the price of a home entertainment system to cut my few remaining hairs. I think I am far from insane. I am just making a point. Precisely because I was so frustrated about my hair experiences, I stopped in at a Walmart yesterday and bought a hair-cutting thingamabob. It cost about $30.00 and had a bunch of doohickies and thingamajigs that help make it possible for anyone to cut hair.

I want to stress that I am the last guy on earth who should be entrusted with anything that buzzes and has sharp little cutters. It might, after all, slip in my butterfingers and leave undesired results or worse. Still, given all that, I was desperate enough to purchase the thing and to attempt to cut my own hair.

My wife had an appointment in town last night. I waited until I heard her car roll down the driveway before I got out the clippers. I didn't want her to see me struggle. I wanted to make sure I had the time, before she returned, to correct the inevitable mistakes I would make. If I goofed badly enough, I might even have had to shave my head, then pretend that that was what I wanted all along. I needn't have worried. It didn't matter. Ten minutes after I started, I was sporting the best haircut I have had in years. Piece of cake. Everything went tickety-boo. Things were hunky-dory. I was happy.

So, if I can cut my own hair to my satisfaction, why haven't countless barbers and stylists been able to do the same?

The answer is easy. No-one listens to the customer anymore. It's not just barbers and stylists; it's just about everyone who provides any sort of service or sells anything. Why the hell is that? Doesn't anyone want their customers to come back again?

The last time I was in a barber shop, I said to the girl, "Take about an inch off the top but don't cut the sides too short." You can guess what happened. She took about a quarter of an inch off the top and at the sides I looked like a skinhead. I didn't even bother berating her. I paid and left. There is no point anymore in saying anything to anyone about poor service and unsatisfactory results. The girl was trained to cut hair in a certain way. She simply couldn't make the mental adjustment necessary to give me what I wanted. The guy who cut my hair the time before, worked in one of those ritzy 'hair stylist' establishments. He was highly insulted when I pointed out that he had cut my hair unevenly and that the hair on one side of my head was longer than on the other. He was, after all, the 'expert.' He couldn't wait to collect his money and get me out of the shop.

This diatribe is not about cutting hair, really. It is about each of us listening to the people who pay our salary. That means the customer. It doesn't matter where we work, what we do, how much we make or even how we feel about our job -- like it or not, our wage is paid by a customer. For policemen, firemen, politicians or bureaucrats, that means the taxpayer.

Realistically, any barber should love to have me as a customer. I don't talk much, tip handsomely and the entire process takes ten minutes. After all, if one has 'three hairs in seven rows,' an expression my late father used to describe the follically-challenged, getting a haircut is not going to take a lot of time.

So, that's it. From now on I am cutting my own hair. Now, I just have to convince my son that I can be trusted with his unruly mane. Not much chance of that, I'm afraid.

Should any customer of any of my companies read this, let me state unequivocally here that we do listen to you. If you are ever disatisfied with any service we provide or with anything we sell to you, let us know. I promise that we will do everything possible to fix the problem. Then we will try to devise a way to avoid a reoccurrence.

We don't want you to visit another 'barber.' We value you as a customer and always will.

1 comment:

  1. I'm surprised you have waited so long to make the discovery that the difference between a poor haircut and a more than acceptable haircut is about ten days. I've been doing my own styling since 1949 when I joined the RCAF. Back then, and for several decades afterwords, I kept my hair in a brush cut. Try leveling off the top by studying your handiwork in two mirrors, one to give you a reflection, and the second to reverse the image so that you can see what a great job you are doing. Much success old friend, and be sure there will be some days everyone will wonder why you don't remove your hat.