Expectations of customer loyalty – Awkward moments and reproaches (stories)

barber

For years I went to the same hair stylist at a rather upscale salon in my town. The stylist always did an outstanding job, even to the point where a few people on the streets complimented my hair. Even a French woman in a diner once walked up to me and said in her lovely accent “You’re hair is so beautiful! So French!” Even one of my doctors complimented my hair, and compliments from him are quite rare.

My stylist was particularly skilled and artistic at her craft, so the prices for her services were very high even compared to her work colleagues’. I spent the money nonetheless, even though the bill could be around $300 if I had many hair services on the same day (haircut, color/highlighting, conditioning treatment, blow dry, flat ironing, and of course the huge tip). Frankly, the price started to become excessively high. My husband and I vowed to cut some corners to save money. As reluctant as I was, I decided to try a different and cheaper hair salon. I switched maybe nine months ago. I really like the new stylist. She is more fun to talk to, and does a good job with my hair. Perhaps it’s not “Wow!” worthy, but it’s still nice. The same hair services I mentioned above cost less than $200 when my new stylist does it.

Barbers are very similar to stylists. If my husband happens to get his hair cut by another barber in his regular barber’s absence that is a real no no. You might see them on the street, or come back to them months later, and get interrogated. “Where were you? You got your hair cut by someone else? They didn’t do a very good job!” Ever hear those words? I’d be a little afraid to hear something similar from my old stylist. Or maybe an awkward silence.

There are many service and product providers who also expect loyalty. Most often they are mom and pop businesses, or salespeople that keep track of interactions with you. These may include drycleaners, cafés, and restaurants that you might have visited regularly.

camel cigsMy husband was born and raised in Czech Republic, formerly known as Czechoslovakia. Back in the days of communism, people tended to go to the same barbers, the same butcher shops, vegetable/fruit stands, newspaper and magazine kiosks, and other places, too. Sometimes there were shortages of what his family needed. If they developed a good relationship with these service/product providers (were friends, put extra money under the table, and of course were loyal), they would be fortunate and get some rare items that maybe no one else got. For example, they’d ask for potatoes, and the provider would whisper something like “I put something special at the bottom of the bag.” Wink. Wink. Then they’d get home and find a bunch of bananas and a couple of oranges, which were in very short supply. At the magazine kiosk, my hubby would ask for cigarettes, then the vendor would say “Have an extra # Koruna on you?” Hubby would then get the drift and give him extra. Instead of some lousy cigarettes, he’d get prized Camels from America, which the kiosk owner got from a mysterious source.

My mother-in-law at one point in the past (still during communism) started to grow dissatisfied with the quality of the meat from her butcher. He was giving her lousy cuts, and started to not have meats she wanted. She complained to my husband’s dad, who mentioned this to his barber. The barber said, “I have a great butcher, who if you went to and mentioned my name would treat her really well. However, he wouldn’t accept your wife knowing she was quitting another butcher. They sort of have loyalty to each other not to steal customers. What I suggest is to go to my butcher, and tell him your old butcher just died. Then he’d happily accept her as a customer.” So, that’s what my mother-in-law did.

grease trucks
Grease trucks

A fond memory I have, which I have described in a past post, was the friendliness of proprietors of the food grease trucks that used to be at my alma mater. There were about six trucks right near each other. People would pick a truck, and if you were a regular, you were treated very well. It happened that I almost always ordered Earl Grey tea with milk and sugar. My chosen grease truck guy knew that, and knew the exact time I would come. Each day I didn’t even have to order it. It would be ready for me as I walked up to the truck. Imagine if I just went to another truck and left my regular grease truck guy holding the tea? I wouldn’t dare do such a thing! Big trouble would brew (forgive the pun), and I’d probably never be welcome at the old truck again.

Do you have a service or product provider you’re loyal to? Have you ever received a scolding after being MIA for a while? Ever see one you left in public and duck down behind a car to hide?

13 thoughts on “Expectations of customer loyalty – Awkward moments and reproaches (stories)

  1. Vandana October 16, 2017 / 3:50 pm

    That’s quite relatable, especially with the hairdresser and stylist. I have been pampered by mine for nearly 7 years now!! My doctor, a general practitioner, is another person to whom I’ve been totally loyal.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight October 16, 2017 / 3:59 pm

      It is very nice to go to the same people as long as they continue to serve you well. I’ve been going to one of my doctors for 12 years and another for almost 20. It would be horrible if I changed the one doctor since I see him at least once per month.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Vandana October 16, 2017 / 4:05 pm

        Very true, Cindy. I’m quite a skeptic, when it comes to random doctors and medicines. The one I go to has been watching over my grand parents and parents.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight October 16, 2017 / 4:09 pm

        Wow! That’s not that common anymore to have a doctor that really is the family’s doctor.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Vandana October 16, 2017 / 4:15 pm

        Haha! Exactly, I did miss mentioning him to be the ever friendly, dependable family doc”!😊

        Liked by 1 person

  2. NaPropasti October 16, 2017 / 9:14 pm

    Excellent point about some of the people taking their customers’ loyalty almost as an obligation. How about throwing in a little something extra, so that I won’t even think about going to a different butcher next time?

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight October 16, 2017 / 9:20 pm

      Great point, NaPropasti! My husband and I went to the same drycleaners for almost 20 years spending oodles and oodles of money there, and not once did they say “Thank you for al of the years of patronage, one shirt is free this week.”

      Like

  3. zlotybaby October 17, 2017 / 11:26 am

    I’m only loyal to the extent it serves me, is in a believer of healthy loyalty. For instance when I was preparing for a French exam, I had a private tutor. The lingerie worked together, the more sloppy and dismissive of the classes she became (coming unprepared, having no idea what we did last time, saying the same things over an over again) so eventually I had to ditch her. Even if someone’s providing a good service your situation my change, like in your story. I think you should never be loyal to a service provider or a brand when it stops suiting you. Unfortunately, the service providers can be entitled. There was this one lady who destroyed my hair (instead of purple highlights I ended up blond) and then was bugging me about getting my next visit booked every time I appeared at the beauty parlor for other things. Eventually I was tired of giving excuses (and of course I didn’t feel like telling her straight she destroyed my hair what should have been obvious) and started going somewhere else. Now I have a great hairdresser who almost doesn’t talk (I hate small talk).

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight October 17, 2017 / 12:10 pm

      I agree that bad service providers really should be sent a clear message about their bad service. Way too often waiters/waitresses get big tips for lousy service. It’s sometimes hard to avoid them if they work at a favorite restaurant.

      Liked by 1 person

      • zlotybaby October 17, 2017 / 12:14 pm

        I think customers are a part of the problem. I really struggle with expressing my anger/disappointment or anything negative really with people I don’t know. I usually just give a big tip as a habit. When the hairdresser who destroyed my hair offered me discount for a next session I still came back. Like what’s wrong with me being so lenient?

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Melissa A. October 17, 2017 / 12:15 pm

    I’m loyal to certain brands, but not services. I like a certain brand of mayonnaise, of milk, of bread, of soda, of some meats & cheeses. I suppose I’m loyal to certain stores too, and won’t go anywhere else unless I’m desperate. Very good post! 🙂
    I think everyone can relate to both customer and proprietor loyalty. Especially service people in low-paying jobs. It’s the ones that go out of their way to be pleasant that I tip the most and always return to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight October 17, 2017 / 12:24 pm

      I guess I am also a bit more lenient on service providers in the very lowest paying jobs, but often they don’t get tips.

      Liked by 1 person

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