Posted by: Jo Duxbury | 9 June 2009

Respecting your clients’ time

This afternoon I went to get my hair cut. I was going to treat myself to a cut and blow-dry at a high profile hair stylist’s salon in Westlake (the guy who runs it is a  well-known hair stylist, he’s booked up until August but one of his senior stylists had an opening). Not a good experience – but it’s given me food for thought:

First, I stopped by the salon on my way home the other day to make an appointment in person (and also check out the salon as I’d never been there before). They were closed. When I phoned the next day, I got their voicemail. Hmm. I hate leaving messages for appointments so I called again a couple of days later – voicemail again. Eventually I left a message. The next day someone called me back and scheduled me in for 3pm today.

Today I arrived at the salon at 2.59pm – I have a thing about punctuality and hate being late. I introduced myself and was told to take a seat. Fifteen minutes later I was still sitting there. Yes, the chairs were achingly trendy and leather-covered. Yes, the decor is very nice. But what I was there for was a haircut.

Just as I was about to get up and ask how much longer it would be, someone came over and (minus apology for keeping me waiting) showed me to a (rather hard) white leather chair, this time in front of the mirrors. Hooray, I thought, here we go. But no. I sat there like a spare part for another 5 minutes. Enough was enough and I started gathering my things to leave. A stylist appeared from nowhere and introduced herself as the person who would be doing my hair. No apology, no ‘sorry to keep you waiting’.

By this stage I was pretty cross – I’d been kept waiting for 20 minutes with no apology, update or even an offer of refreshment. I’d scheduled my work and meetings around this appointment. I ended up walking out – and ultimately wasting 80 minutes (it was an hour round trip). The receptionist did call after me ‘We’ll give you a free treatment’. Oh yippee. Going back in there would be like sending food back at a restaurant – and I didn’t really want to find out what the hairdressers’ equivalent of spitting on your salad is…

What could the salon have done better in this case?

1. Don’t have your main landline on voicemail for days at a time. I didn’t know if they were still in business – and I’m probably not the only client who has wondered that, given the recession. I also had no idea when – or if – they’d call me back (to their credit, they did call within 24 hours). If I hadn’t had them recommended to me, I would have given up and gone elsewhere.

2. If you know in advance that appointments are running late, call your clients, apologise and ask them to come in 15 minutes later. But do this well before their appointments if you can, so they can plan their day and journey.

3. If clients arrive and it’s clearly going to be some time until they are seen, let them know immediately and apologise for it. Give them the option of popping out (this salon is in a small mall) and calling them when you’re ready for them. Or at least offer to get them tea, coffee or water while they wait. Respect your clients’ time and always apologise for wasting it. Keep them updated as to what is going on – don’t just plop them on the comfy chairs and ignore them.

5. If you have seriously annoyed a client, your damage control should be more than yelling a freebie offer after them as they head out the door. This salon has my phone number so what would really score points would be for someone to call me tomorrow, apologise, and make an effort to remedy the situation. Like offering me an appointment with the owner himself (or any senior stylist) at my earliest convenience. I don’t want freebies; I just want them to recognise that they messed up and show me that it is important to them to try to make it right.

These are such small things which cost practically nothing – but they can make a huge difference. I’m quite sad about today as I was really looking forward to a fab new haircut. Instead, I wasted half my afternoon and got a walk-in appointment for a trim (and a glass of water!) at a small local salon where the staff were friendly and efficient.

Have you had any experiences like this where a company either completely disrespected your time – or remedied an unhappy situation effectively? I’d love to hear about it.



  1. Hi Jo
    thanks for this – glad I spotted it – was about to make an appointment with them this week!
    Love your site.
    Chat soon

    • Hi Andrea – good to hear from you and glad you like the site 🙂
      I am sure that they do a great job at Reto, once you get in a chair… maybe give them a go and let me know if they’ve jacked up their service now?

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