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Anna Papachristos | January 23, 2013

Dealing with Divas: When Customers Condescend

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nails_pic.jpgMonths ago, an old friend from college recommended I visit the nail salon she frequented during her time at school. My mother and I were in search of cleanliness and reliability, so we both turned to Facebook for trusted recommendations. Since then, we've become regular customers, visiting every now and then to indulge in the traditional manicure/pedicure. While my mother enjoys the chance to escape reality, I've come to depend on the flawless appearance to deter me from my nervous nail nibbling habit. Each employee does an amazing job, and their friendly demeanor makes you feel like royalty the moment you walk in.

But, each time we have an appointment, we typically encounter at least one or two customers that could... well, let's just say they could use a reality check.

Last weekend, we visited the nail salon to unwind. While in the midst of getting my manicure, one woman entered, condescension in her tone of voice from the very first word. She entered and immediately asked for the gentleman working on my mother's nails. Though she was outwardly disgruntled about the wait, one employee insisted on ushering her in and setting her nails to soak. When that same employee offered to stand in for the gentleman, the customer asked if she did as good a job as he did. The nail technician responded, saying they all do great work (which they really do), and the customer said, "I bet that's what you all say." She spoke loudly, as if her volume would dissolve their Korean accents, and then opted for clear nail polish, making it known that she arrived with every intention of choosing a color.

Just moments after that woman finally settled in, another entered the door with her mobile phone glued to her ear. She stood in the doorway, impervious to everyone's greetings, and just wiggled her fingers in one technician's face as she quietly whispered "manicure" so as not to interrupt her phone call. This customer continued to chat, leaving every single person in the salon with nothing to do but stare and scoff. (Yes, even I snuck in an eye roll.)

Call me crazy. Call me old-fashioned. But, when someone provides a service, you should not treat them as if they are fulfilling a duty, but doing you a favor. You may pay them money, but there's no excuse for belittling these honest, hard workers simply because they don't speak English quite as well as you. (Oh, did I mention that the first woman actually had the nerve not to tip?) These women had no regard for those they employed to care for their cuticles.

When I walk in, I try to treat these people just as that--people. The women mentioned above are only a small sampling of the divas they have to deal with on a daily basis. Instead, I try to counteract such superiority with empathy. Surely not everyone who walks in there is awful, but I firmly believe that these talented technicians deserve to be treated just as kindly as they treat me. Perhaps if everyone adopted that mindset, no matter the business or industry, everyone would feel more appreciated and be willing to go above and beyond to treat their customers even better than they already do.

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