Compare and Contrast

For service and sales professionals, everywhere.

I don’t often get manicures and pedicures…I prefer to do the latter myself while I am watching a movie, as I really don’t like the experience and environment of most nail salons. That said, when I travel, I often find time to get a pedicure in one of the local establishments.  I’m in San Francisco today, working the the Sloan Miyasato group this afternoon, and visited the hotel Spa (Intercontinental) this morning to have my feet made beautiful. My senses and powers of observation were heightened today because our topic tonight is creating the internal and external customer experience – what’s expected and how to deliver it.
I started by calling the Spa to inquire about a reservation and the price. They had time at 10:00 and I was told it would take about 50 minutes. I expected $50 and it was $65…not a big difference, but it’s still only a pedicure.
I arrived just before my appointment time and immediately noticed the fresh, lavender scent and the soft music. The spa was spa-manicurecool, the colors of pale blues and cream, glass tiles on the walls and natural bamboo on the floor. Amber at the desk called me by name, asked if I would like to change into a robe (I declined) and directed me to pick a color and to a place to sit.  The pedicurist, Tam, arrived and called me by name, and asked if there was anything special she should know about, which began a brief discussion about likes and avoids.  It was a time for me to meditate, to concentrate on my breathing and be conscious of the sensations and the quiet. This pedicure included a paraffin wrap (glorious) and Tam finished by fanning my feet to dry the polish. Yes, fanning. Amber checked me out, asked about the rest of my day and thanked me for staying in the hotel and for visiting the Spa.
Compare and contrast this setting and experience to most ‘Nails to Go-ish’, on every other corner in most major cities in America. For around $45 dollars you get a mani-pedi. There may be someone at the desk, but not likely, and someone will call out ‘pick your color!’ and you sit until called to a line of pedicure stations. Lots of chatter and clatter, music that is loud and competing with at least one television on a channel I have never seen anywhere else. I am asked to pay when I sit down and there is not much conversation, unless I am getting a manicure…which evokes a tsk, tsk about my cuticles. After the polish is applied, I am shuttled to the ultraviolet station to dry..and invariably scrape a nail and need a fix-up and more tsk, tsking.
No, they are not the same. Nor are they the same price. I never feel I have spent the money well at the cheaper salon…I am polished but agitated. Today, I am polished, relaxed, impressed and writing about this experience. It’s not about that money. It’s about how I feel during and after the money has been spent. And I feel good to get services from an establishment that honors it’s workers so that they are willing and able to deliver this lovely experience rather than the questionable conditions under which the other types of salons operate.
The takeaway – Excellence takes something to deliver and it has a price tag. When the customer complains about the money, it’s because the experience doesn’t add up to the price on the tag. 
Give it your best.
Now, go sell something.

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