I had a terrible service experience at a bike shop the other day. It was so bad I didn’t buy any of the parts I wanted. I won’t go in to the details, but this awful service actually caused me to spend 3 hours at the hospital after I ate it on my bike 15 minutes after leaving the shop. Tetanus shot, road rash and what I thought was a broken wrist. I started my Yelp! review from the ER and also copied and pasted it to Google. So much anger!
As I was writing the review, I thought about how it was ironic that I hate Yelp with a passion but it was also the very first thing I thought to do after a negative service experience. And looking at my yelp profile, it seems I generally find the time to write negative reviews but rarely positive. But hey, I’m a cranky bugger.
Writing a post on Yelp, or just having a service experience that is lacking puts us in the position of the majority of people who have written negative reviews on our own businesses and it made me think about how many cues we are given and opportunities we have to fix issues before a client takes to the internet with revenge on their mind. And often it’s not revenge, it’s simply an expression of frustration, though with hair, it tends to be more personal and dramatic. And rightfully so.
What causes a business or service provider who clearly recognizes the client is unhappy or frustrated to let them leave their business without a plan for resolution? At this bike shop, they were rude from the outset but I still chose to go with this simple service because I needed it done and it was only $120. When I picked up the bike, the majority of the work hadn’t been done, the work that was done was done very poorly and they were completely unapologetic when I clearly told the entire staff that I was really upset about the situation. I had been planning on purchasing a rack for the car, new pedals, a new stem, and I had bought 2 bikes from them within the last 4 years. I’d never experienced a business so clearly demonstrate dislike for their customer.
But I’m quite sure that in their mind, I was simply being an asshole and being difficult. I was being a psycho.
How often do hairdressers, who take tend to take criticism of our work personally, make the same assessment of the client who is expressing their anger and frustration over the services we have provided? Oh, I’m not saying their aren’t psychos out there, but in reality there are a lot less of them than we like to expertly diagnose once our skills have been questioned. How many of us are truly objective and honest about our work? Have you ever changed a parting because a bit of grey didn’t cover, or a foil bled or the ombre blend was chunky and hard? Taken a client outside so they could see the colour that they (or we) couldn’t see in the salon?
What about when a client says “It’s fine,” or goes completely silent. We know they aren’t happy, but we don’t react unless they expressly tell us they dislike their hair? Do we just get them out the door because out of sight, out of mind? I think many of us do.
Once again, I hate Yelp, and I hate it for 2 main reasons:
Firstly, I think they use extremely shady business practices. I used to advertise with Yelp and after 12 months I was able to quantify that there was no real difference in the traffic I got with advertising and without, so I didn’t renew my contract. Within a week, six of my 5 star reviews were filtered out, and all of them had been written by regular contributors and had been considered legitimate by Yelp for several months.
Yelp claims it was just a coincidence, but I don’t believe it.
I also hate their predatory sales calls and that each month some new person calls me and tries the hard sell if I log into my owners account.
The second reason I hate Yelp is simply that they exist. It gives people an avenue to publicly complain rather than go to the business and try to seek resolution first. And this is where things get more complicated.
My own recent experience at this bike shop had me expressing my frustration to several people in the store. Nobody took me aside and sincerely apologized and tried to make it right. I stood there obviously angry and they didn’t care. And as I was writing my own review on Yelp, hoping to negatively impact their business, it go me thinking how often this happens in my own salons. How at fault my own company is for ignoring a client’s dissatisfaction or unhappiness. I think it must be a lot more often than it should. I can’t imagine people deliberately go to a hair salon with the intention of being unhappy. I have to assume 99% of the people out there want to leave a salon loving their hair. Sticker shock can be an issue, but it usually isn’t if the client truly loves their hair. Some people are crazy, but there really aren’t that many of them. We know that they are the minority.
Is it your agenda to deliver amazing hair, that you yourself would want if you were the client? Are you empathetic to the client experience and able to not make the service about you but about the client? Do you truly care?
I think most people who take to Yelp are just like me. They were not happy and the business ignored them. As an owner, I would hope the client would reach out to me and ask for resolution, but I have a feeling that most people already did in some way reach out to someone while still in the salon. And they were ignored.