Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Customer Service: Learnings from the barbershop

It is probably because of my father's Air Force life that habituated me to visit barbershop regularly.

Today, after my daily game of tennis, I visited my barber (hair stylists, as they are referred to nowadays). I, usually, pay a paltry sum of Rs. 50 plus a decent tip of Rs. 10.

As I went in today, the barber asked if I had walked or visited the gym as my T-shirt was wet with sweat.

After instructing him that I needed a short haircut, I left it to the capable hands of the man and his tools to do the art work on my scalp. When the job was finished, I was satisfied and was going to happily give him the usual tip. But then he stopped me, asking me to relax in the seat. For the next 5 minutes, he drummed, pressed, and massaged my head. Phew, I was ready to go for a sleep. Refreshing! Oh no, I was not planning to increase the tip, though certainly tempted.

I thought it was over but then he brought a dry towel, placed it on my shoulders. Next 10 minutes were a period of relief. Relief from the tension that had built in into my shoulder and back muscles due to tennis. I so much wanted to let Mr. Barber continue but, alas, I was getting late for office.

Without hesitation, I pulled out Rs. 30 along with the hair cutting charges of Rs. 50. More than 50% of the actual cost of “actual” service rendered. Both Mr. Barber and I were smiling. I was because of the service. He probably because of the tip and making a customer satisfied.

I thought to myself, on a normal day, I would have stopped with the haircut. On a normal day, Mr. Barber would have stopped probably after the head massage. But the anticipation of what customer might require, though unstated, changed the experience.


bagki said...

good one Ganesh... though in project management terms, that would amount to a scope creep. It is not the barber's job to give you a massage, it is not his profile+ the customer didnt expect him to do so.

What if the customer had just walked out without paying a pie? would the barber still be smiling? i mean empathy is different but in a customer/vendor relationship can we take the risk of introducing new elements without letting the customer know?

In a particular case in our project, where we tried to infuse an element (our reasoning was customer comfort) the guy said that it is not required ;-)

Someday's dreamer said...

So there are the untaught lessons of CRM and the practical deal. You sure seemed like a Delighted customer :) Yup, using all my MBA jargon! (Gotta use 'em somewhere :P ) And next trime, in CRM class, you can bet I will state this example :D

Bharadwaj said...

A wonderfully meaningful conclusion drawn in a beautieful manner from a simple event!

Sriganesh R said...

Hi Bagki,

You won't believe if I tell you that I did think in the same lines, soon after writing the post. Maybe, because I work in a software firm.

And I must say I can't agree more with that thought of yours.

But this concept can be well applied in account mining. The idea is not to serve more than what customer expected or required. It is about understanding what else customer might require. This requires customer orientation.

Also, I do not suggest that this has to be taken and applied across without customizing.


ram said...

Hi Ganesh,

This is so very true. In today's scenario, it is more imp to understand what your cust wants. Being in a service industry, I understand the importance of this. Sadly though, you need some one (read clients) who can reciprocate.

Savitha said...

I cannot agree more that Customer Delight is the thing that matters the most when you are providing a service.

I bet that even if the customer did not want what was offered as an additional service, he would sure remember the gesture the next time he (or may be some one he was influencing) was looking for a service provider. That I guess is worth the tip that may have gone unpaid.

Kumar said...

good one, ganesh. i've experienced this kind of delight several times from my barber too. salon industry is being swept by the customer-friendly behaviour wave for quite sometime now. of course, there are many who charge you astronomically, but it's nice to see someone like this as well. finally it's a service industry and they've got to do something like this to stay afloat.