Can you afford to lose customers?

Not too long ago, my best friend visited from Chicago and we made plans to go shopping, get our makeup done at my favorite boutique, and have lunch.  This has become a tradition for us, and we have tried to do these things together every time she has visited over the past several years.  We choose this particular makeup boutique because we obviously love their products, but also because they will do our makeup for “free!” My husband wouldn’t actually consider it free, considering I end up buying many of the items they use, but they don’t actually charge for the service.  The first time we went in was before my wedding, so I could learn some new techniques and do my own makeup on the big day.  We had such a great time; the girl who did our makeup was so nice, and we truly enjoyed speaking with her and getting to know her; not to mention, she did a great job!  The next time we went in was before my friend’s wedding, and once again, had a very nice makeup artist who did a wonderful job.  We had such a great time and planned to do it again the next time she was in town.  When she planned her New Year’s Eve trip, we set aside a day for our traditional outing and were looking forward to our new looks and a fun lunch.

When we arrived at the mall, we went straight to the boutique to get started!  Only this time, they said the rules had changed.  They were no longer doing more than one makeover at a time, and we would have to make reservations for about an hour and half from the time we arrived.  We were already getting quite hungry, but we decided we could kill an hour and a half walking around and figured if there was no one else there, they wouldn’t mind making up our faces at the same time.  When we returned, I volunteered to go first and the employee began asking questions about what I was looking for.  I told her I had used these products for years, had a good idea of what was there and was just looking for some new, younger colors.  But apparently she wasn’t listening, because she began with a sales pitch about their anti-aging cleansers and moisturizers.  I listened patiently, then again explained that I was only after new makeup colors.  Rather than pick colors specifically for me (like the girls have done in the past), she simply picked out a pre-made kit that they were clearly promoting at the time, and used only those colors.  I asked her to write them down so I could re-purchase in the future and she just wrote the name of the kit.  Meanwhile, we were getting quite “hangry” and asked if, since there were girls standing around talking about their New Year’s plans, maybe my friend could get her makeup started.  The girl told her that her appointment didn’t start for 15 minutes so she would have to wait until then.  She decided that she did not want to get her makeup done at all, and let the girls know exactly why.  They finished up, we purchased nothing, then headed to lunch.  What a letdown!  Not only was this our fun tradition, but it’s also the store I frequent when I’m purchasing new makeup.  While I’ve had a number of great experiences there, that one bad experience left a sour taste in my mouth and I will not be returning.

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So what does this mean for you?  Nothing, unless you want customers to return to your business!  As everyone knows, people are much more likely to leave a bad review than a good one.  And they are more likely to tell their friends about their bad experiences than their good ones.  So remember, even if a customer has been loyal for years, one experience can change that and send them in another direction.  It’s important to work with your customers to build partnerships, and develop give and take relationships. When I wrote to the makeup boutique’s management to explain the situation, I never got a response!  Maybe if they had written back and apologized I would have considered returning.  But apparently they are doing well enough to lose a few customers.  Can your company afford to do the same?  Maybe my complaint sounded silly and trivial to them, and they didn’t think it worthy of a response.  But your customers are how your business survives, and while the customer isn’t necessarily always right, you do depend on them and therefore should make sure they know they are worthy of your time.

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Marriage Memories: Part 2 (AKA My Beef With Tipping)

Last week I told you about my experience with a wedding reception venue, and as my four-year anniversary is approaching, this week I want to tell you about the experience we had on our honeymoon. What a difference there was! While we experienced bumps in the road with the reception venue, the honeymoon was smooth sailing. We were lucky enough to find an all-inclusive resort in Cancun for a decent price, so after throwing all of my summer dresses into a suitcase, I knew I would have to put forth little to no effort once we arrived in Mexico.
To begin, let me just tell you how amazing our resort was. So beautiful! In fact, we stayed at the Beach Palace resort, and if you are enough of a reality TV junkie to have watched “Snooki and JWoww” you would have seen our resort featured when they stayed there for spring break; JWoww said “Beach Palace is so dope right now.” That’s my claim to fame. I’m a bit of a loser.


Because the resort was all-inclusive, we knew that we would be perfectly fine staying there the entire time, other than any excursions we chose to take. There were five different delicious restaurants to choose from, along with a sports bar and pool bar. The resort offered activities each night, like a Michael Jackson tribute, that we were lucky enough to watch while eating our private, honeymoon dinner with our own personal server. All in all, it was a wonderful experience at a wonderful resort. But the best part about this resort were the people who worked there.
The all-inclusive aspect of this resort included gratuity, so when you went out to eat it wasn’t necessary to take along any kind of purse or wallet. You could choose what you wanted from the menu, as much as you wanted, and never have to worry about how you would be paying for it, or how much you should include for a tip. Because of this fact, you might think that the service we received wasn’t up to par, but you would be wrong. We received better service at this resort than we ever have at any restaurant where the server is actually working for a tip. On the night that my husband decided it would be cool to eat an habanero pepper, our server was extremely attentive (after laughing at him with his fellow servers, of course) and brought over milk and anything else that he needed. All of the servers were very patient with the sheer amount of food that we ordered, as we sometimes just ordered “one of each” and attempted to eat as much as possible. The bartenders went out of their way to prepare drinks that we would love and the staff working on the boats for the excursions provided entertainment and beverages, making the trip enjoyable even though we ended up waiting on a boat for an extra 2 hours due to a scheduling conflict.

Upon returning to the states, we experienced a bit of culture shock when we went to our first restaurant. Prior to our trip, having been a server in college, I operated on the “20% no matter what” rule. My husband did not love this policy, but usually just let me take care of the tipping side of things to make it easier.

However, when we returned I realized how entitled servers can be, expecting at least 20% no matter how attentive, friendly or competent they are. As I mentioned, I was a server, so I fully understand the difficulty of the job; I know there are nights when you walk in the door and are given five tables right off the bat. You are expected to handle all of these tables with ease, giving them all the proper attention at the exact time they need it. Unfortunately, that is impossible. Inevitably, someone isn’t going to get the attention they want and are going to leave feeling less than satisfied. What I am talking about, however, is when your server steps outside to smoke a cigarette, leaving your water glass empty and your food under the heat lamp in the kitchen. Or when you are ready for your check and your server is standing around talking to her coworkers, making you late to your movie. In both of those situations, that server does not deserve a quality tip because they did not earn it. However, they still expect it, which is where the problem lies.
As a society, it’s time we stop acting like we deserve everything our heart desires without actually working for it. It’s not fair to complain that you can’t find a job if you aren’t willing to put in the work to find one, or better yet, perform a job that you feel is “beneath you.” It isn’t ok to assume that someone who lives in a big house was given a hand out, or is living beyond their means; most of the time people who live in big houses do so because they worked their tails off to earn it. And if you’re a server, or do any other job that accepts tips: just because the standard tipping rate is 20% does not mean that is what you deserve. The point of a tip is to show appreciation for a job well done. If you are a taxi driver and you drive in circles looking for my destination, chances are you won’t receive a tip; actually, chances are I won’t pay you at all. If you are a hairdresser and I ask for a half-inch trim and leave the salon with a Carol Brady bob, you’re probably not going to get a good tip. And if you’re a server who is more interested in your weekend plans than you are in refilling my wine glass, please do not act bewildered when you see my 10% tip. Because I promise you my husband would have left you nothing.