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So let’s chat about a few things that drive me completely, totally, over the edge when it comes to customer service. I admit, I am not the most patient person, and I have worked in some form of customer service for my entire life. My first paying job (besides babysitting), was at Burger King in Gillette, NJ. Don’t mock. I have never been the sort to think that I was “too good” to work somewhere. In my 15 year old head, a paycheck represented one thing: freedom. Getting my own money was exciting and fulfilling, and it allowed me to buy expensive clothes and other ridiculous items that my parents balked at.

I haven’t always been so psychotic about customer service. I admit, in my late teens and early 20’s there were a few jobs that I either didn’t show up for, walked out on, or was fired from. I think that began while I was waiting tables at a Friendly’s restaurant at 17. I quit that job in a blaze of glory when they sat me a late night table of 6 people. each of them ordered a coffee or a soda and a Fribble. Wait, you don’t know what a Fribble is? Well, it’s a super thick shake that is served in a giant plastic quart sized cup and was super annoying to make, especially to an insolent 17 year old. So, as I was delivering the large, unwieldy tray to their table, I lost my balance and tipped the tray all over the table. There was literally a sea of Fribble coating the 6-top. So, what does any responsible 17 year old do? I left. I told them I’d be right back to clean it up and I walked out the front door. Not one of the great customer service moments in history, I admit.

I’m not sure what shifted in me over the years, but as I matured and moved into different levels of customer service that included more responsibility, I began feeling a deeper desire to please guests. When I opened Urban Waxx that desire blossomed into a full fledged obsession. At our last meeting I told the girls that it is completely unacceptable for us to be average. Average sucks. Average is everywhere. Go into most shops and you will encounter average service. It makes me bananas. Want to know some of my top service related pet peeves?


  1. Lateness. I have a problem with lateness that those who work with me deeply understand. Maybe it’s the Swiss in me, but I hate lateness. One thing that will make me lose it is keeping a client waiting for an appointment. For some reason, when our clients are late I don’t find it offensive, but when one of US runs late and/or keeps a client waiting, it’s completely unacceptable. It rarely happens. That makes me happy. I blame my problem with lateness on my chronically late mother. Pick your kid up last from school a few times and see what happens: they get nutty like me. I hate being kept waiting at appointments. When I check in to a doctor’s appointment and they tell me it will be a 45 minute wait, I get frustrated. I feel that keeping our clients waiting tells them that we do not value their time, and that is simply not true. The solution? We almost always run on time. And when we don’t, there better be a darn good reason.
  2. Rudeness. I mean, this is a given. Who wants to deal with a rude customer service person? I feel like rudeness has become tolerated if not accepted in the US. It’s bizarre. I mean, I once trained a gal at a previous salon that kept talking to a client checking in while eating her bagel. When I pointed out that eating and talking to a client with her mouth full was rude, she told me that she liked the front desk job and the coworkers, but that the customers bothered her. Hmm. Rule 1 of being in customer service: like customers! I mean, everyone has a bad day once in a while but being rude or disrespectful to the very people that are keeping you in business should never be tolerated. Never.
  3. Sitting. Ok, I know this is weird and maybe a little nitpicky, but it really annoys me when I walk into a salon or a shop and there is someone sitting down behind a desk. It makes me feel like I am intruding on their private time. I can’t tell you how many times I have walked out of a store because the person behind the counter/desk is sitting down looking bored. Notice their are no chairs behind the desks at Urban Waxx. The front desk staff is always ready to walk clients to the waiting room, pour a glass of wine, and show you where the restroom is. Always.
  4. Being ignored. Ok, so maybe this is part of number 2, but it deserves attention. Being ignored is the worst offense. Ever sat at a restaurant table and had 2, 3, 10 employees walk past you without making eye contact or addressing you? How does it make you feel? Yup, pretty crappy. Same thing about walking into a shop and having the front desk staff act like you aren’t there, or have someone talk on the phone in front of you without making eye contact. All unacceptable behaviors that make guests feel generally yucky. Even if whomever is helping you is swamped, all it takes is a quick smile and a “I’ll be right with you,” to soothe the savage beast. Ignoring a customer is very, very rude.
Ok, so that’s 4. As you might imagine, I have many more. But, it’s getting late and I am working myself up right before bed. Not good. Generally, I think it’s imperative to treat clients with respect, to validate them, and to always remember that they can go to many other businesses. It’s an honor to have people want to come to my business and spend their hard earned cash. It’s a choice; not a forgone conclusion.
Tonight I will go to bed reading one of my most favorite customer service books, recommended to me by my dear friend Liam. It’s called “Zingerman’s Guide to Giving Great Service,” and it’s by Ari Weinzweig. He is one of the founders of Zingerman’s, my favorite mail order food catalog. Zingerman’s maintains a customer service policy that is almost obsessive in pleasing its enormous customer base. It’s amazing. Check it out. www.zingermans.com. This little book alway’s inspires me to be better.