Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Trimming customers or margins?

I got my hair cut yesterday at Toni and Guy. I haven't been there since April but returned after they sent me a questionnaire accompanied with a £10 voucher.

It was quite a good customer questionnaire, with just five questions and clear multiple choice answers. It got me thinking about my experiences of the company over the seven years I've been going to the salons, having read The Ultimate Question last week. To save you the half day that it took to read the book, it asserts that companies which focus on their net promoter index (the number of advocates minus the number of detractors) will outperform their sector.

I'm not an advocate of Toni and Guy. They do appear interested in their customers. Not only did I receive the questionnaire but in the salon, there's now a 'black book' for customers to give their personal details in exchange for exclusive offers. I've not experienced that since my first visit in 2001.

Yet my problems with the company persist. When I first attended, I thought Toni and Guy to be the best of the high street salons. Now I only consider them dependable - you know they're not going to rely on an electric razor and you'll get a tapered finish on the neckline. However, I can't remember the last time someone made an effort when massaging the peppermint conditioner, when I was given water in a glass rather than a white plastic cup or when I was given advice about the cut or appropriate products.

To cap it off, I got questioned when I handed over the voucher and told that in future, I should only attempt to redeem it from Monday to Wednesday and if I notified them when booking. No such restrictions were offered on the voucher itself.

It appears to be another company that has expanded its salons at the expense of quality, where getting good staff is secondary to filling salon capacity and where fully satisfied customers are an after-thought.

I hope I'm wrong and that they or you will correct me if my experiences are unusual.

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