Growing up can be both awesome and sucky. It’s awesome because you can do what you want, when you want; and it sucks because you have to pay your own bills and work pretty much every day. Ah, the double edged sword of young adulthood. There are ways, however, that growing up can be more awesome than sucky and that’s what this series is going to be about – how not to suck in your professional life.
Your professional life can’t suck if you don’t have a job. Want to know how to get the job you want? Here’s how – show up. Really! 90% of the young people who say that they want a job and that they’ll “stop by to fill out an application,” never show! Then the ones that do show, often show up smelling like a stale cigarette, dressed unprofessionally, with their cell phone pinging away in their pocket or purse. (*Side note: I’m as obsessed with my cell as the next person but there’s a time and a place, kids, and this is the “how to get the job” part. You might not like everything I have to say but trust me, if you want the job you’ll listen.)
Live by the Boy Scout motto: Always be prepared. If you want the job show up, show up early, and show up fresh. Do you hair, put on some makeup, wear something stylish but make sure it’s appropriate (if it’s something Kim Kardashian would wear, don’t wear it); we’re in the beauty industry so the expectation is that you’re going to be stylish, not whorish, so be mindful of skirt length and boobage if you’re a chick (not shorter than your fingertips when you hang your arms at your sides) and if you’re a dude, make sure your pants aren’t wrinkly, your hair looks polished and your scruff looks intentional. Not sure what the difference is? Google it. Stat. Or, ask someone. People in the salon industry notice details.
Speaking of details, know what else people will notice? When you ask them for a pen to fill out the application you came to fill out. Make sure you bring a pen with you. But I’m bringing my resume, Heather, so I won’t have to fill out an application. You have a resume? Awesome! Bring the pen anyway. Human resources says that employers have to have an application on file. For those of you without a resume, no worries – we’ll go over resumes in my next post – but in the meantime, type up a quick bio about your achievements and activities as they relate to the job you’re applying for. Highlight clubs you belonged to, previous jobs you’ve had and the awesome things you did while you were there, your GPA, honors programs, volunteer work, community service – kidding – don’t share your community service experience unless asked. Make sure you include your contact information and make sure it includes the following:
Now that you have the basics covered, print your bio on nice paper (not copy paper, yuck), get out there and start putting in applications. Next topics will include how to build a resume that doesn’t suck and how not to suck in an interview.
Here’s to not sucking at work!
In an industry where everyone on your team “touches” a client – the receptionist, the assistant, the stylist – it’s important that everyone on your team defines and delivers customer service the same way. What does that mean? Well, if your receptionist creates magic for your guest, creating the expectation of exceptional customer service, but your assistant chews gum while speaking, gossips about the client she just had, and then leaves your guest with a wet head at the shampoo bowl then, guess what? You know that their definitions of service vary greatly and that you have probably gotten a one star review on Yelp. “But I have an employee manual that outlines my expectation when it comes to customer service; I have systems in place,” you say. That’s a great start, I’d reply, but modeling what exceptional customer service looks like must be your next step.
Think about it this way – if a person’s only perspective of customer service is the employees they interact with at WaWa, or 5 Below, the local grocery store, Kohl’s, or Walmart, then their idea of customer service is basic: unenthusiastically greet the guest, take their order, take their money, and then look past them and say, “Next.” And, before you get your undies in a knot, I know that there are some amazing service providers at those places but they are the exception, not the norm. The service standard is B.A.S.I.C. Let’s pretend for a moment that another member of your team’s idea of customer service is with the people they deal with at Nordstrom, the Ritz-Carlton, Whole Foods, or Morimoto; places where customer service takes on a whole new meaning – borderline obsession. I’ll give you an example.
On a business trip to the Tyson’s Corner area of D.C., my husband and I stayed at the Ritz. When we arrived, we were exhausted and hungry. I picked up the menu for room service to order a quick sandwich and was disappointed when I discovered they had only white bread as a bread choice. I ordered a sandwich anyway and at the end of our stay when asked to complete a service survey, I wrote a note that said I was surprised that a hotel like the Ritz-Carlton would only offer white bread to its guests. A few weeks later I received several voicemails from a Ritz-Carlton employee apologizing for my disappointing experience at their hotel. A few days later I received a letter in the mail from the GM at the Tyson’s Corner hotel offering me a free overnight stay at any Ritz-Carlton hotel in the world to make up for not having a different choice of bread during my stay. Talk about INSANE customer service; their decision to go above and beyond shocked me, pleased me and, ultimately, ruined me because now I expect a free hotel stay anytime WaWa is out of my favorite kind of bread. Realistically, though, that customer service experience forced me to rethink what customer service really is.
BusinessDictionary.com defines customer service as: All interactions between a customer and a product provider at the time of sale, and thereafter. Customer service adds value to a product and builds enduring relationship. Huh. Really? So, then that should change every single client/employee interaction, right? Right! And, it should also make defining customer service pretty simple: every interaction should be adding value and building enduring relationships and if it’s not, then your employees aren’t providing customer service at all. “But what about modeling customer service, like you talked about earlier?” Good point. We’ve defined customer service, now how can exceptional customer service be modeled for your team? Simple. A road trip (or, two).
If you’re conducting regular trainings with your team, take the next training time and pack everyone into a car and drive them to Nordstrom. Take them into the makeup department and have them speak to the counter staff; purchase something – ask questions – observe. Go to the clothing or shoe departments and mosey around; engage a sales person and watch the customer service experience unfold before your eyes. Let your team see, hear, and experience a level of customer service they may not be familiar with. Afterward, go to Starbucks and grab some coffee and while you’re there, observe how the Starbucks team interacts with one another and with their guests. Then, sit down with your team and ask them what stood out the most for them at Nordstrom and at Starbucks. Ask them if the service experience they received was different. And then, ask them if they think that that level of service would be well received at the salon and if they think exceptional service could have an impact on the salon’s bottom line. When you get back to the salon, engage your team in a role playing exercise where they will have the opportunity to practice delivering exceptional customer service. It may feel awkward at first – change is sometimes uncomfortable – but when your salon develops a reputation for being the most customer-centric salon in your area, your paychecks will feel anything but awkward.