once upon a time i took issue with the amount of time the mobile phones distracted my associates from their work. text messages from family and friends that blew up each day distracting minutes that add up to hours of diversion from the work at hand. in the store and on the production floor, these virtual conversations between groups and individuals began to steal time from our daily productivity. eventually i just had to insist that everyone park phones away until break time. otherwise the distractions became a source of annoyance from which there was no hope of my release. at the day's end, time is money.
technology began to morph onto the pavement, and as i attempted to walk two ornery terriers down a narrow street filled with people texting and walking, a whole new approach to maintaining sanity was necessary. sure, i live in a popular, bustling neighborhood. however when i moved in.. it was a quiet and up-and-coming place where no one roamed. with no park or trees for several blocks, walking the dogs has become a super mario brother's game. i think deal with it fairly well now that i have learned how to navigate. i whistle to the pups as we walk to keep them focused on the job at hand. as i do, the people heading toward me look up and correct their gait. it actually creates a quick personal moment through this game board that is my street, where people look up and we smile.
the latest trend to contend with are social media sites finding new ways to connect our businesses with potential customers. Facebook, Instagram and now Yelp, all contain buttons that allow the user to contact directly to the business. a next generation idea that leaves me in a bit of a bind both personally and professionally. most everything now connects to my mobile phone, so i've changed the alerts that blew up my phone night and day. to live within the specter that people want to give me their business is an amazing, wonderful thing. but a conversation with each person via text/email is in an inefficient, impossible thing for me to comprehend on a daily basis.
imagine if you will that i get a request for an appointment. super! but here is the rub. an average appointment conversation on the phone takes 3 minutes. 5 for a new customer. 98% of the time, our business runs right on schedule. unlike most salons where time is a nebulous entity that ascribes you to a realm of double booking and who knows if you'll ever get finished, in our salon you get in and out on time. the level of specificity involved with placing you into an appointment with the appropriate stylist for the correct duration and service category is daunting. understand that the question most asked after any question i might ask is: what's the difference?
though we have everything listed on the menu page, a certain amount of conversation is required. things like: are you interested in a junior or senior stylist? is it a single process or a highlight? partial, half or full head? traditional foils or specialty highlight? demi or permanent color? glaze, color balance or toner? if you have curly hair or long hair or special needs, that is another conversation. discounts and coupons are only accepted by certain stylists. each stylist takes a different amount of time for the services they do. i see you tracking with me so no need to belabor the point.
a simple text message from one person wishing to make an appointment through these sites or by email might eat up a half hour or more. times that by a dozen plus all the other things i need to do while working (let alone the people who makes requests long after i've left for the evening) and productivity takes a dive. customer service takes a hit too. and for as much as these buttons are supposed to add to the customer experience, they can also rob it of any real connectivity. we choose not to offer online booking because of how we run our business. yes, it is convenient. but book it wrong and the experience will be shattered.
our relationship with our clients begins with the first phone call. a chance to feel us out. see what we are about. it gives us a chance to find out what you need. what you desire. connecting vocally is when we begin to set your expectation. how we are best able to exceed those expectations.
buttons are a great beginning. but connecting easily and connecting well are two very different things. to utilize all that technology has to offer, we have to find a way to do more than simply function. given time, i have no doubt we will. and we are so grateful that technology is moving in ways that build our customer base, especially where review sites like Yelp com into play. word of mouth is always, always the best advertising. how wonderful that people take the time to share their experiences, good and bad. it keeps us on our toes, offers feed-back that no amount of survey monkey could offer, and gives the consumer a personal way to contact us for services. kudos!