Thursday, November 19, 2009

If You Are Being Paid To Be An Expert, Don't Be Afraid To Give Your Opinion.

I went to get my haircut a few weeks ago and when I made the appointment, I was asked what level of hair designer I wanted.
"What levels do you have?" I asked
"6. Level 1 is for recently graduated students all the way up to our top designers at level 6." The receptionist told me.
I didn't understand that. Basically, she wants to know if I want someone who knows what they are doing to do my haircut or not right? So, I go for the highest level because I want a good haircut even though it was really expensive.
When I show up for the appointment, the "hair designer" comes out and asks me 800 questions about my hair, if I color it, when I cut it last,etc. Fine. Great. Then she starts asking me what kind of haircut I want. She asks me how long my layers should be and what to do around my face. She asks me within an inch how long the layers should be and if I wanted the back to be longer or an inch shorter and this went on and on for about 30 minutes.
Finally I just said "look, I'm paying you $180 to do my haircut! I came to you because you are supposed to be good at this. Shouldn't you be telling me what will look good?"
Perhaps that was a little abrasive but I was paying for an expert. I expected one that had some opinion of what I should do. I didn't learn how to do hair, how should I know how long my layers should be?
I also see this in client meetings all the time. Teams of people who are being paid as experts that don't give any kind of expertise. Guiding I can certainly understand but by giving a client (of any kind from hair to advertising to landscaping) a thousand questions so that there is no real thought work being done by the expert is not good work.
Clients want to feel like they are in good hands when they choose any kind of expert and the people that have confidence in their work enough to tell a client that going platinum blonde is an awful idea or that their marketing campaign is actually turning people off is part of that expertise.


Blogger Grace Boyle said...

Maybe they really weren't the expert, after all. That would really annoy me but I often wonder, are we paying for quality?

My new salon in Boulder has tiers of hairdressers. Basically the first level are cheaper and newer to the game. I go in the middle and also go by a recommendation from multiple friends. I'm paying for an experienced hairdresser (she has been doing it for 5 years) but I base it mostly off the recommendation. If she was at the top tier and came recommended, I would still use her. Now I trust her and I don't have to pay an arm and a leg, even if I want a new 'do.

November 19, 2009 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger Caitlin said...

Grace - I think that when faced with this "tiered" stuff recommendation is absolutely the way to go, it felt like I was blindly choosing an expert. :)
I also think that some clients like to be in complete control of their project and play a major part in the process (whatever project that might be) but an expert needs to be able to read which ones might need some more suggestions.

November 19, 2009 at 9:47 AM  
Blogger Royce said...

I agree with you on this. In more general terms, I think a lot of what this comes down to is just the ability of a client and vendor to communicate with one another. Sometimes the two parties are on a wavelength and understand one another, and sometimes they are not. Sometimes a client has a personality of total dominance over their project that won't mesh with certain vendors but will mesh with others.

I know that the vendors I keep business with and continue to go back to time and again are those that I trust not only because of their work but also because of their ability to communicate with me in a prompt, professional, and helpful way. In some sense it is a collaborative effort between vendor and client.

November 19, 2009 at 1:01 PM  

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