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.
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