Most of us have been raised to have manners, to be kind, to say please and thank you and to live by the golden rule of treating others the way we’d want to be treated. Basically, how to be a decent human being. Ever since I started going to the beauty salon to have my hair professionally cared for dating back to my junior year in high school, I’ve had various experiences with communication and customer service, most of them being good. Within the last 10 years, lack of communication and poor customer service has increasingly become a problem.
Not Respecting My Time
The last beautician I had when I was still getting relaxers (aka creamy crack) had a lot of clients. She was always busy which meant she was running behind constantly. It was very rare if she wasn’t overflowing with customers or had time to spare. Over the years, she began to take advantage of my kindness and understanding by blatantly disrespecting my time.
Here’s what I mean. While I always made sure I was early for my appointments, she either wasn’t at the shop yet or had five or six people ahead of me. When she wasn’t at the shop, it wasn’t because I was super early. It was always because she was running late. Ten minutes, fifteen, a half hour, to an hour or more late. She never called me to say she was running late. She never left word at the shop that she was on her way. She showed up when she showed up. Not only would she show up late, but she’d stop doing your hair so she could go get food, or someone else would bring her food and she’d take an hour to eat, laugh, and play around with her family members who were always at the shop. Meanwhile, her customers sat and waited under the hooded dryer or in her chair. And we waited and waited and waited. That, (among other egregious things) is what made me go ahead and big chop and start my natural hair journey.
Lack of Communication
Since getting locs, I’ve encountered locticians who do not communicate well at all. My first loctician was not a forthcoming person. I had to constantly ask and practically drag information out of her. She never told me how my hair looked or how it was doing. I had to constantly ask and she always gave short answers. Mind you she has experience with sisterlocks and traditional locs, she went to school to become a trichologist, and she has all these other certifications when it comes to hair. She advertised and promoted her knowledge and certifications, so I thought she would share her knowledge and expertise with me, her client. No. It became clear early on that all she cared about was my money. She ran her business like a revolving door – she got you in and got you out. And she too was always running behind.
I had the same unfortunate experience with my last loctician. She promoted herself as someone who knows how to care for your locs so that you will have healthy locs and claimed to be knowledgeable in all styles of locs and care. Once again, she wasn’t forthcoming. She said my new growth was breakage because my hair grew outside of the loc and in my parts. I had to explain to her that no, it’s not breakage but simply how my hair grows. My thought process on this is if you’re so experienced with locs of all kinds and you have 20 years of experience under your belt, you mean to tell me that you’ve never encountered someone with locs whose hair grows outside of the loc? If I had breakage I would have lost locs by now, and I’ve only lost one loc on my entire two year loc journey.
A few weeks after my visit with her she announces on Facebook that she’s moving out of state and is not accepting anymore new clients or appointments as of October 1st. She knew she was moving out of state when I first saw her, so why bother wasting my time taking me on as a new client? Okay, her reasons are pretty obvious: I was just a means for her to get more money before she moved. I get it and it is what it is. But to make this announcement on Facebook instead of telling your clients personally was just plain tacky. I could have continued my search for a loctician instead of wasting my time with her – and I actually like her locking methods! She washes my hair first and then soaks up most of the water out of my hair and then starts retying with a crochet needle. It’s gentler on your hair and it’s less tension when you do reties on damp hair. I’ve never experienced that before and I loved it!
This past weekend I went for my last retie with her and, and in her Facebook announcement she promised to give recommendations to all of her clients during their last appointment with her. After she was done with my hair, I asked her what were the names of her recommendations. She paused and said “Welllll…I have this one young lady in mind. Her name is (such and such) and she’s on Facebook but I want to give her a heads up first before I start sending people her way. But stay tuned for my Facebook post because I’ll provide all of that there.”
Excuse me? WHAT?
So you basically lied. You had no recommendations ready for your clients, or you didn’t want to give ME any recommendations. I’m not sure what it was, but her vibe was very off to me. You know how there’s something not quite right about someone, like their aura isn’t quite aligning with yours but you try to roll with it anyway because your relationship with them is new and you want to give them the benefit of the doubt? That’s how I felt about her. In that moment I felt like she left me hanging and she didn’t care. Why would she care when she’s moving away soon? On top of that I was a new client so she really probably didn’t care. Any other time I would have freaked out not knowing who was going to do my hair next. I would have left her shop pissed and started my search right then and there. But I didn’t care. I already had a plan.
In all of the examples I gave above, customer service was not the focal point. To me, customer service goes beyond being polite. Communication and customer service go hand in hand. I’m not expecting the people I receive services from to do back flips and cartwheels for me every time I’m in their presence, but I do expect transparency. I expect the “professional” to ask key questions of their client, especially if they are new clients, instead of the client having to ask all the questions. There should be an equal exchange of communication and participation in getting to know what the other expects and needs, and whether or not those expectations are reasonable or can be met.
Frankly, I’m tired of initially being told that someone knows how to do x, y and z only to get you in their chair, but later finding out that they cannot do x, y and z. I’m tired of one-sided communication with those I am paying to care for my hair. But more importantly, I’m tired of encountering horrible customer service. I’ve come across too many people taking advantage of others for the sake of money. We’re in the middle of a pandemic. People have lost jobs and still haven’t received unemployment payments. There’s so much going on. Where is the compassion or care? Why would one think NOW is the time to jack up prices and charge for every possible thing they do to your hair even though just yesterday it was a standard service? It’s wrong on so many levels. On the positive side, I love seeing so many men and women working their side gigs and trying to make money that way.
Because of the trend of locticians raising their prices, it’s forcing a lot of women to learn how to self-retie, which to me is a good thing. I find it to be empowering to see so many women taking charge of the care of their hair all while saving money. I’ve decided to join these women by taking charge of the care of my hair. Between myself and my sister-in-law, we’re going to figure this loc thing out. We’re going to take care of my hair and it’s going to continue to grow and thrive. I’m going to give myself the best customer service ever.