A Tale of Two Haircuts - Guest Blogger Danny Snow

Today's post comes from guest blogger, Danny Snow. A powerful message that applies to any organization. 


A Tale of Two Haircuts

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

There is no doubt that right now is the best time to deliver a great customer experience and the absolute worst time to deliver a poor one.  

With that in mind, let me tell you about two very different haircut experiences my family has had over the past week.

Experience #1:

Last week I decided to try and cut my own hair as I wanted to wait one more cycle before returning to a barber (while I gauged the impact of COVID-19 in our community).  I discovered that I didn’t have the right clipper attachment for my preferred hair length.  After some trial and error, I realized it would be best to go see a professional who would be able to fix my mistakes.  

I pulled up my Great Clips app, checked in, and then drove to their Windermere location.  I’ve been going to this location fairly regularly for the past 10 years or so.  When I walked in, the two ladies who usually cut my hair were there waiting for me with big smiles on their faces and said, “Danny, we were so excited to see your name pop up in our system.  We’ve missed you.”  They even apologized up front for the fact that they wouldn’t be able to wash my hair afterwards due to COVID-19 because they know that’s my favorite part.  

I was the only customer at that point and for the next 15-20 minutes, the three of us talked about our families and how everyone was weathering the storms we were experiencing in 2020.  We laughed as we talked about some of our favorite scenes from the television show, The Office.  I was thrilled that one of them told me she had started watching Lost after I had recommended it at one of my previous appointments.  

It was probably the single best haircutting experience I’ve ever had, and it really had nothing to do with the haircut.  The haircut itself was great (which it has always been) but there are probably 5 to 10 other salons in that area that would give me the same haircut.  The excitement they exhibited when I walked through the door, as well as the attention and interest they showed in me and my family is what made the experience so memorable.  

What I really love about this particular location is that this experience is very close to business as usual.  The entire staff has always been incredibly friendly. This time there was definitely something extra special about my visit, and that difference ensures that I will continue going to see them for years to come.  It was very clear to me that they truly valued and appreciated me as a loyal customer.

Experience #2

This past weekend, my wife scheduled an appointment to get our son a haircut.  He’s 3 years old and has only had his hair cut by one barber at a local shop right by our house.  We’ve been going there for two years now and she always does a great job.   Occasionally I’ve had my hair cut there as well.  I really like to go there for the face shaving package they offer before I travel for a speaking engagement.  It’s become part of my usual routine and it’s one of the few times I do something to pamper myself.  Over the past couple of years we have formed a relationship with her and we always have great conversation.  The services cost a bit more than they would at a chain, but we liked the fact that we were supporting a local small business (she is actually the owner of the shop).  My father in law and brother in law have started going there as well based on our recommendation.  

My wife scheduled a 12:25pm appointment and showed up at 12:19pm.  She was met by the barber with a rather rude, “You’re late.  You had a 12:10pm appointment.”  No smile.  No hello.  No sense she might have even been joking around.  From there it got worse as she said absolutely nothing else during the entire haircut.  My wife was visibly upset when she came back home with our son afterwards.  She was hurt because it felt like they were friends after all this time.  Our son is always excited to go see her for his haircut and this was just a completely different experience than what it has always been.  On top of that, we have never been late for any appointment we’ve ever had with her. 

Now, obviously someone messed up on the appointment time.  And when you need to keep a schedule, a delay could cause some frustration.  I understand that.  I also understand that there’s a very real chance she was stressed out about her business as this has been an incredibly rough time for companies around the world.  I also recognize that she could be going through a number of other issues in her life.  It could also be the fact that there is a brand new Great Clips right across the street that was advertising haircuts for $7.99, which is half the price of what we were paying for my son’s haircut.

However, regardless of any of that, this was a terrible way to greet any customer (let alone a regular) who is just coming back to your newly reopened establishment.  We should be jumping for joy at any business that comes our way right now.  

Here’s how I think this should have been handled:

A warm “hello” or “welcome back” or “I’ve missed seeing you” should have occurred.  That should be business as usual and there is no reason to miss easy points like that right now.  After a quick greeting, she could have asked my wife what time she had down for their appointment.  This would have initiated a conversation where she could have told my wife that they had her down for a 12:10 appointment, and when they weren’t there, she had to move on to someone else that was waiting.  She could have asked if it was possible for her to come back later in the day or wait until the person in her chair was finished.  


She could have simply talked with my wife and son during the haircut like she normally does and perhaps the rude greeting would have been forgotten or at least minimized the damage it had done.  But to be completely silent the entire time just made the experience seem so much worse.

As a business owner, there is way too much at stake right now to give your customers a reason to look elsewhere.  I can’t say for certain whether or not this will keep us from ever going back, but the thought is definitely in our head.  And, it’s not like there’s a shortage of good (and cheaper) barbers in our area.

Here’s something to think about: How will you be greeting your customers as they come back to do business with you?