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Customers Want Compassion in a Tense Situation

Own Up and Step Up When You Blow It

A few weeks ago, you may have seen CNN or been made aware of an incident involving a salon owner allegedly berating a young mother whose child was crying during his haircut.  Once the mother was brought to tears, she was heard by other patrons saying “I’m sorry.  He’s autistic.”  The mother left the salon in tears and the stylist followed her outside to continue the haircut while the child sat in his mothers arms.  haircut
This story originated with a post by one of the onlookers on Facebook, was carried to the local news stations, then on to CNN.
It was a sad situation all around.  According to news reports, the lawyers responded that the owner was concerned for the child’s safety.  They stated that she meant no harm.  They then proceeded to state that perhaps the salon would consider donating some profits for autism awareness.
The public apology  that the owner offered was ridiculous.  She basically said that she never meant her actions to result in consequences.  Subsequent to this event, half of the staff has quit, the bad press surrounding this situation continues to grow, and social media has barely started to subside.
 
Why am I writing/ranting about this?  Because this is an extreme example of what we see each and every day in business.  The owner of the salon blew it.  She clearly was annoyed by the commotion of the crying and fuss by the little boy and lost her cool. 
 
My thoughts…
 
1) At the time, she should have offered to help in any way. She should have tried to see if there were any other areas in the salon to continue the cut, ask the mom if she knew of anything that may help her son, ask if she wanted to continue with the cut despite his upset, or if they wanted to come back later.  Clearly, there was a scene, but using some compassion and empathy would have helped immensely.  Sometimes, there just are no other options and you just have to push through it and be as helpful as possible.
 
2)  Once she blew it, she should have owned up to it.
Upon reading the public apology, I’m amazed that the owner actually permitted it to be printed.  It was so robotic and “legalized” that it took away any apologetic intent.  
She could have said something along the lines of…
 
“I’m so sorry about the way I handled this situation.  It seemed to be a bigger disturbance than it actually was and I completely mishandled it.  Berating or confronting someone in an already emotionally charged situation is never helpful and I just didn’t think at the time.  I was off my game and for whatever reason wanted to squelch the situation rather help.
 
For those who take particular offense because of the child’s autism, I’m truly sorry.  That really had nothing to do with my poor judgement and handling. 
 
Although it may be far too late, I’d like to reach out to the family and offer free salon services for one year.  I’d like to personally apologize for my actions and for the embarrassment and distress that my outburst caused the mother.  That is not who I am, nor ever want to be.”
 
I’ve waited to write this post in hopes that I’d eventually be made aware of something genuine coming from the owner.  But, as of this morning, no amount of searching has turned up anything after the “apology” that was issued.
 
Please understand that people blow it.  We have outbursts. We make mistakes.  We say things or act in a way that we wish we could take back when the dust has settled.  When that happens, take ownership of it.  That genuine humanness is all people are looking for today.  Concern for others is the best way to build and repair relationships, both personally and professionally.
 
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue or any others that you are currently involved in.  Please comment below and share.
 
Helping you focus on your customers,
 
Kristina
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