My son Sam has gorgeous, flaming red hair. It is also thick and unruly, which results in a variety of bed-head that would be award-winning if there was such a contest. He likes it longer, and so do I.
A few years back, when his hair became overly shaggy and I was having a difficult time deciphering him and the dog, I took him in to my local chain haircutting salon to fix.
The woman put him in the chair, threw a cape on him, looked at me, and said,
“What do you want?”
“A haircut,” I replied.
“No, do you want a 2, a 3, what do you want?”
“I’m not sure what you are saying. I want it a little longer, but it needs to be a bit shorter than it is right now.”
“Then you want a 3.”
“I don’t know. What’s a 3?”
“Number 3 clippers. Is that what you want?”
“I don’t know if I want that. I want it longer in the back. It seems to work better when it is a little longer.”
“Then you want a scissors cut?”
“I guess. I am not a hair stylist so I am not sure I am understanding you. I don’t want it shaved, if that’s what you mean.”
“So you want a scissors cut.”
“OK. That means you don’t use a clippers?”
“Yeah. Is that what you want?”
“I think so.”
Wha, wha what?!!
What did I want?
I wanted her to tell me what to do.
I wanted her, as the expert, to help me manage his unruly head of hair. I wanted her to tell me the best cut for him, and make suggestions that would enhance his look. I wanted her to help me figure it out.
I wanted my son to walk out of the salon with a great haircut that fit his unique personality.
I wanted her to enjoy her job, and make the mundane sort of fun.
I wanted her to care, and take the burden off me. I wanted her to own the challenge.
That’s not what I got.
I assume this person was trained to be a hair stylist. She is supposed to be the expert. Why didn’t she ask me questions, and based on my answers, make an expert suggestion? All I got, was “What do you want?” Was she simply being lazy, or did she really expect me to know what a number 3 is?
Here’s the thing, it is so easy to make assumptions about individuals and assume they know more than they do. You know it, so they should to. For example,
We assume people know how to be good residents, and chastise them when they aren’t, but we never teach them what it means to be a good neighbor, or provide them with tools that help them become good residents.
We assume people enter our offices and have done research on floorplans and know exactly what they want, based on their limited understanding of the product. Instead of helping them discover, based on expertise, floorplans that will fit their lifestyle, we leave it up to them.
The next time you are tempted to throw a challenge back at a client, and make the assumption all your training and expertise doesn’t really matter, think about your true role and responsibility. As an expert,
- Listen, ask questions about lifestyle and needs and then, based on what you learn, make an expert suggestion that solves the client’s lifestyle problem.
- Have some fun and be confident in your role as expert.
- Be an expert. Take the time to prepare and make sure you know more than your competitors do.
- Remember, when a client walks through your door and presents a problem, whether that be a stopped-up sink or an apartment need, that’s all they should have to do. You own it from there. You are the expert. You are competent and confident and you love helping people get what they need and want.
Last, but certainly not least, deliver, and remember how much you add to overall value perception and satisfaction.